Posts Tagged ‘coffee culture’

Four coffee trends that are not

September 8, 2018

Biggest load of bollocks I have read on coffee in a long time, from Morning Advertiser, aimed at, don’t laugh, failing pub industry.

Remind me again, how many pubs are closing every week?

Article talks of operators. WTF are operators?

Those of us who appreciate coffee, drink in speciality coffee shops, served by real baristas, not some one in a chain who knows how to press a few buttons, a job that could be done by a robot, only low paid McWorkers in chains are cheaper than robots.

When an article has bullshit marketing phrases like ‘maximise coffee sales in a saturated market’, ‘deliver a desirable experience as opposed to just a drink’, then you know what follows is going to be a load of bollocks.

iced coffee

Yes, cold brew coffee, summer of 2018, the hottest summer on record, 80 days above 25C, has been the year cold brew has taken off. Why, because a refreshing drink on a hot day. Not because of marketing hype.

Cold brew coffee, have to know how to make, has to be made with top quality speciality coffee.

Matthew Algie, suppliers of catering supply coffee. One of the chains using their poor quality coffee, Cafe W in a handful of Waterstone’s. Not coffee from a speciality coffee roastery. One reason why undrinkable coffee in Cafe W.

Consumers expect to see iced coffee and it damages their perception of establishment if not seen, is another example of marketing gibberish and simply not true.

But do not confuse cold brew, made with high quality coffee in either a cold brew drip tower or immersion, with hyped nitro cold brew served in a can or on tap nor with what I saw recently boxed cold brew the cold brew equivalent of wine in a box, served at room temperature with ice added.

fake milk

If wish to ruin a cappuccino use fake milk.

Fake milks are no substitute for real milk, impossible to make a cappuccino, looks disgusting and tastes disgusting.

If you have an aversion to milk, then ask for a pour over.

And if you really must serve fake milk, blend in the pouring jug, marginally better, but not great.

serving coffee

Yes, need best equipment, best coffee, top class baristas, and no not possible to train baristas, they learn from working with top class baristas who correct their mistakes.

Laughable the ‘insight’ from Jacobs Dowe Egberts on the need not only for top quality coffee but also how it is served.

It will not be Jacobs coffee then. One of the worst coffees I have ever come across was Jacobs coffee in a coffee shop in Cyprus. Undrinkable coffee, the coffee beans black and over-roasted, a stomach churning smell. In Athens, Jacobs coffee seen as a joke.

The only insight from Jacobs Dowe Egberts is that they are able to con ‘establishments’ their word not mine, into buying their poor qualty coffee.

In Cyprus, con coffee shops with the coffee machine scam, lease our machine and buy our coffee. Free machine, then pay more for low quality Jacobs coffee, than would for coffee from speciality roaster in England including the shipping costs. And like the tied pub racket, cannot use any other coffee in the machine, cannot serve guest coffee, if do the espresso machine will be removed as in breach of contract.

the coffee consumer

Yes, there are various reasons to visit a coffee shop, it is a social activity as well as drinking coffee.

Reasons not mentioned, art exhibitions, poetry, live music, excellent cakes and food, even waffles.

Not mentioned, coffee chains opposed the latte levy, their business practices predicated on grab it and go takeaway coffee.

The only way to enjoy speciality coffee is to relax with a coffee served in glass or ceramic, as would a good wine. If enjoyed in convivial company all the better.

reality

In a pub you will get awful coffee, served by someone who knows nothing about coffee.

Wetherspoon, will get decent real ale, the food not good, the coffee LavAzza from a machine.

Fake 1930s bar Cosy Club, output of chemical factories masquerading as beer and lager, real ale if you are lucky on a single hand pump, no craft beer, and corporate food menu. The coffee should be good, as supplied by Clifton but with those serving clueless on coffee, will get a bad coffee, which is not doing the reputation of Clifton any good, but maybe they do not care.

The average pub, and they are a dying sector, the landlord screwed by a pubco, serving poor selection of beer, let alone decent coffee. Not only screwed by the pubco on rent, also screwed on what they pay for their beer. A brewer recently told me the price they sell their beer to a Free House, and what a tied pub pays when forced to buy via the pubco approved distributor, a massive mark up in price, leaving little or no margin for the tied landlord.

Over the last ten years, we have seen a rise in coffee consumption, due to the massive expansion of coffee chains serving undrinkable coffee. The market has saturated. And any indie coffee shop opening to serve catering supply coffee with unskilled baristas is on a hiding to nothing.

Never move into an existing market, create a new market, as Brew Dog did with craft beer, biggest fish in the pond as the only fish in the pond, then grow the market.

The growth in the coffee sector, as with craft beer, is speciality coffee shops, serving high quality coffee in a pleasant environment. The baristas, time permitting, only too happy to converse with the coffee drinker, their enthusiasm contagious.

As with craft beer, the market grows as people discover what beer and coffee should taste like.

One speciality coffee shop opens in town, then another. They are not in competition, between them they expand the market.

When Krema opened in Guildford, they were busy from the day they opened.

In Winchester, first one, then two, then three Coffee Lab coffee shops opened, in parallel, Flat Whites opened a kiosk, then a coffee shop. All are busy.

In Hull Old Town, three excellent speciality coffee shops. Thieving Harry’s, Two Gingers, Caffeinated. They are not in competition, between them they expand the market for high quality coffee.

Same in Lincoln three coffee shops, Coffee Aroma, Madame Waffle, Makushi aka Base camp.

Same again in Nottingham, The Speciality Coffee Shop, Wired, Outpost Coffee.

And again in York, Spring Espresso, Attic, Kiosk.

Not only England. Paralimni in Cyprus, Robustos speciality coffee shop, the owner George has this summer helped set up a speciality coffee shop in nearby Protaras.

The sector has grown because people passionate about good coffee not operators, have opened coffee shops to share that passion with their customers.

And one of life’s ironies, not only are the speciality coffee shops expanding whilst pubs are dying, not only guaranteed to find quality coffee in a speciality coffee shop than in a pub, are also more likely to find quality craft beer in a speciality coffee shop than a pub.

The source for the information in the article has come from buying companies, chains, suppliers of catering supply coffee, consultancies, not from speciality coffee shops, which explains why the article is a load of bollocks. And probably written by someone who knows nothing about coffee.

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Are compostable coffee cups compostable?

February 14, 2018

The proposed 25p latte levy appears to have focused minds.

In the UK we are throwing away 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every single year. These cups cannot be recycled due to a plastic liner in what at first glance appears to be a simple paper cup. 

An environmental disaster, deadly for for marine life.

Something has to be done. Hence the proposed latte levy.

Indie coffee shops as always are taking the lead, are starting to offer on sale compostable paper cups, reusable KeepCups, discounts if bring back cups for a refill.

If I am on my way home, have picked up fruit and vegetables, I can pop my compostable cup in with my fruit and vegetables, then when home, deposit my compostable coffee cup on the compost heap.

But what if not on my way home, what if not a convenient compost heap, what then with my compostable coffee cup? And therein lies the dilemma, what to do with the compostable coffee cup? It will find its way into the general waste stream.

The underlying assumption, is that my compostable cup will do what it says, actually compost.

Only one way to find out, drop a couple of cups on the compost heap, sit back and wait. That was a few weeks ago. Nothing has happened. They are siting there. Though to be fair, it is winter.

If I am at Infinity Foods in Brighton or at the farmers market in Guildford, I will often pick up a biodegradable plastic bag, these are made of plant-based cellulose.

I will fill with kitchen waste, throw on the compost heap, or at least I used to.

What I found was, everything rotted down, the bag still there, even after several cycles through the compost heap.

For comparison, yogurt pots, those made of waxed paper, do rot down, leaving behind the plastic liner.

The plastic bag is very thin compared with the compostable paper coffee cup.

We need more people to do as I have done, deposit these compostable paper cups on their compost heaps and monitor what happens.

KeepCup and clones thereof are refillable, but from observation the take up and usage is low.  Easy to see why, expensive, bulky, often heavy, a pain to carry around.

This may though change, with 25p latte levy helping to focus minds and indie coffee shops reporting an increase in interest.

In Australia, or least Melbourne, Abigail Forsyth co-founder of KeepCup reports reuse rate has risen from 1% to 30%. Still low, but 30% a lot better than 1%.

The demographics to aim KeepCup at office workers popping out for a coffee, coupled with substantial discount when used.

Compostable coffee cups, KeepCup, are addressing the symptoms, not the underlying problem of grab it and go consumerist culture, typified by the chains serving disgusting undrinkable coffee.

Do we not value good coffee? Why do we not grant coffee the respect it deserves?

We wax lyrically about the terroir. We would not dream of swigging a good wine out of a plastic-lined coffee cup. Why therefore do we not treat a good coffee with the same respect?

We have to encourage relax in an indie coffee shop with speciality coffee served from glass or ceramic, the only way to appreciate a good coffee.

We need dialogue between baristas and clientele, as to what we must do to get rid of disposable coffee cups.

Why do indie coffee shops close so early?

November 19, 2017

I love a coffee shop that stays open late (by UK standards). — Brian Williams

A tweet raises an interesting point, why do indie coffee shops in England close so early?

I like to finish what I am doing of an afternoon, then sit and relax in a coffee shop with a  coffee. Only I cannot, as by then they are closed, or closing.

I have to rush what I am doing, finish by mid-afternoon, to catch the coffee shop before it closes.

I have then defeated my purpose of going there, to sit and relax.

People finish their shopping, finish wandering around, leave work, want to sit and relax with a coffee, only they cannot, or at least they cannot in an indie coffee shop. The chains are still open, they end up in a  chain and it becomes a bad habit.

Glutton & Glee, now under new owners with a silly name, the staff are at the door at four thirty greeting customers with ‘we close in half an hour’.

How to make customers feel welcome, I think not, without really trying.

I have sat and watched a steady stream of potential customers turned away in that last half hour.

I have sat at the back of Glutton & Glee, amongst the decaying furniture that has seen better days and had a visitor pose the question, why are they turning away customers who have money rattling in their pocket they wish to spend?

Why indeed? I have often wondered why?

Not only wondered, I have asked.

The answer goes something like this.

If we stay open longer, we have to pay the staff.

This answer defies logic.

You pay staff the hours you are open. You are are turning away customers that if they bought three cappuccinos, a cake or two, you have already covered the cost of paying the Living Wage let alone the Minimum Wage. Your fixed costs are just that, fixed, whether open five hours or twenty hours.

Look at the demographics in Guildford, wealthy middle class who are used to being in Europe, visitors from overseas, students, migrant workers. All are used to coffee shops being open late.

I am used to being in coffee shops until early evening, late at night, early hours of the morning.

Europeans friends I talk to are completely at a loss why coffee shops close so early. As am I.

In the summer, should be open until at least six, midsummer until at least seven. In the winter it is different, cold and wet and dark, wish to hurry home.

There needs to be flexibly. If sorry have an appointment, have the kids to pick up, that is different.

Nor would I dream of asking for a  coffee when I see the machine is about to be cleaned for the night.

Union Summer Carnival

June 22, 2017

I arrived a little later than I would have wished.

I was half an hour later than I wished arriving in London, then I went on a detour to Lower Marsh, behind Waterloo Station, to investigate Lower Marsh Market and happened upon a little coffee shop Love & Scandal.

As a result, I missed the cupping session and arrived part way through a fascinating talk on coffee, trees, forests, climate change and Ethiopia.

Kew Gardens have been carrying out mapping of the forests, how will be effected by climate change, how to mitigate, and will the coffee varieties survive.

To preserve the forest, we need to add value, we add value by encouraging the farmers to focus on quality not quantity, but this will only succeed, if the farmers have a market for their quality beans.

Union has been helping, they have improved the care of the trees, educated the farmers to only pick the ripest reddest coffee cherries, have improved the drying stations to use polypropylene netting not hessian and to establish a cupping station to enable the farmers to evaluate the quality of their beans.  These must be in excess of 84 on a Q scale, anything above 80 qualifies as speciality coffee.

Union are marketing as the region, Yayu Forest.

How much information on a bag of coffee?

This came up in the next session on Generation Z and the five waves of coffee.

Five?

Most people are only aware of three, if that.

Zero: Quality coffee beans, usually Arbabica, available from local stores.

First: Mass marketing of instant coffee.

Second: Starbucks, a marked improvement, coffee as a lifestyle.

Third: Artisan coffee shops, roasters, focus on high quality, money going to growers.

Fourth: Professionalism.

Fifth: Marketing hype, creation of chains.

Oxfam are still stuck at zero, peddling the fairtrade scam with tubs of black powder to which you add hot water, poor quality coffee that makes people feel good because they have been duped into thinking they are helping growers.

Many would question the existence of the fourth and fifth waves.

This session people either loved or hated. I fell into the second camp.

Anthropologist David Graeber describes bullshit jobs. That was what I was seeing.

Generation Z, Millennials, I groan when I hear these terms. Are people hardwired within their DNA when they are born?

We live in a world where nearly everyone is interconnected through their smartphone.

This has huge implications on social behaviour.

What we should be discussing is this interconnection, and how it is used, not stereotyping behaviour on the basis of when born.

We saw it with Jeremy Corbyn, when he easily won two leadership elections, when despite the smears in the oligarch-owned and controlled media, he almost won a General Election.

PR and marketing show little understanding of this interconnection, how it functions.

It is also personal space, invade at your peril.

Social media is social networks, social, interaction, many to many. It is not broadcast, one to many.

Andy Street former boss of John Lewis has said you do not control it or own it, it takes you where it flows.

We are post-capitalism, capitalism ended in 2008.

Basic tenet of the market is that it self-corrects. it did not for 2008 banking crisis, the criminal bankers had to be bailed out.

Classic Marx, cost is land, labour and capital. We now have a fourth factor, information.

Information has a tendency to flow, you cannot unknow what you know. Like water downhill, it has a tendency to flow. Only artificial and draconian copyright and intellectual property rights restrict this flow, and in doing so, hinders innovation.

We have pure information products, e-books, digital music, that can be reproduced and distributed at near zero marginal cost. We have physical products with high information content, eg mobile phones.

The marginal cost of information products, or physical products with high information content, is falling exponentially.

Robots will take over at least forty per cent  of jobs, or would if it were not for wages being held artificially low.

If we focus on brands, then at risk of cultural jamming, as Naomi Klein, author of the seminal No Logo, discusses in how we jam the Trump brand.

Nike went from producer of $70 retail sports shoes, factory gate price at the sweatshop factory of one dollar, to a lifestyle choice.

Apple likes to project a lifestyle image. What of the workers committing suicide?

We are used to dealing with producer coops. Why do we not see this the other end, cooperating coffee shops, collaborative commons, open coops?

Actually we do. Baristas help each pother, little cooperating networks form.

In Lincoln, indie coffee shops are considering, maybe already have, a joint loyalty card.

Rather than attempt to form so-called fifth wave businesses, why not grow organically, skilled baristas leave, set up their own coffee shops?

If we follow this route, we also can sustain organic growth for coffee roasteries, and plough money back to sustain growers,  encourage them not to replant coffee trees with a  less sustainable crop.

Try a quality coffee in an artisan coffee shop then go back to tax-dodging corporate Starbucks and demand the same quality?

I think not. More likely to search out other artisan coffee shops.

How much information to put on a bag of coffee? Danger of information overload. Why not small information panel, QR code to scan for more information.

Every bean has a story to tell. Why are we not telling that story?

The earlier session on Ethiopia, was telling that story.

Queen’s Award for Sustainable Development presented to the two co-founders of Union.

A coffee throwdown in three rounds.

Here I was a little baffled. Different methods were used by the competitors.  Should everything  not be equal, a level playing field? One method in itself, may produce a superior outcome. On the other hand, maybe that in itself tests the skill of the barista, with the coffee given, part of their skill, is to choose the method that will best bring out what the coffee has to offer.

Watching the competitors, intense concentration.

Then the judges, which coffee would they prefer? They indicated by pointing to or tapping the cup.

The judges explaining their decision, would have provided useful feedback.

On display, a fancy all singing and dancing espresso machine from La Marzocco.

It was one of several different  machines, there to be used.

A couple of baristas were making a coffee. Could I have one please? They handed me their coffee. A queue formed.

There was to be a short talk by a guy from La Marzocco. Either it did not take place or I missed it.

On entering, various coffees on show, fake milk, chai.

Including the almost mythical Geisha coffee.

I have always thought, using cold brew coffee to make cocktails, a waste of good coffee. Half of Cold Brew Coffee is padded out with recipes.

World champion barista Martin Hudak World Coffee in Good Spirits Champion 2017 did an excellent job of making me think again with his excellent cocktail, but even then, use of Geisha.

More on Geisha, read the excellent must read God in a Cup.

The Japanese chilled filter I liked. Little recipe cards were available.

Many will be familiar with Oatly, or at least the name, as it was the wrap around for Caffeine 26.

My experience of fake milk was a cappuccino in Malaika, a vegan coffee shop. To say the least, it was disgusting.

A Greek barista was making himself a cappuccino. Would he make me one too please?

It was so-so. A marked improvement on my previous experience. Not great. Was this the coffee, the machine, the barista? A direct comparison with milk would have been useful.

The previous week, dinner with an Indian. She told me how they drink tea, half milk, lots of sugar. It sounded disgusting. I was shocked. I expected as I drink tea, fresh boiling water on tea leaves, no milk, no sugar.

Prana Chai was served ice cold. To me it was like a milkshake.  A strange tea milkshake with spices.

Talking to the guys later as we walked to the DLR Star Lane Station, they said they were thinking of describing as tea latte, which seemed apt.

In the car park, excellent pizza from a clay oven by Arancina.

For everyone a goody bag.

All in all, a very interesting, informative and entertaining day, and a big thank you to Union for the hard work organising their summer festival.

 

Coffee Culture

May 5, 2017

I occasionally walk past Coffee Culture as I walk through the courtyard of The Angel Hotel. I have never popped in, as it is off putting the smokers hanging around outside.

Today I thought I would give it a try.

The decor is ok, but that is as good as it gets.

Everything they did, screamed they know nothing about coffee

I was offered coffee in normal size cup or an outlandishly large cup.

Never use a large cup.

I ordered a cappuccino.

It looked disgusting, and did not taste much better. But at least I was asked, did I want chocolate, it was not dumped on top.

Never use chocolate, use cocoa.

The coffee was a on a par with the free coffee out of the machine in Waitrose in Farnham.

A tad too hot, milky, watery, barely drinkable.

The best that could be said of my cappuccino, was served in an attractive cup, the same cups used by Harris + Hoole.

I walked out and left it.

Outside a board telling me an award winning coffee shop.

This once again emphasises the point, awards have become meaningless.

I do not know which award they are referring to, they are not one of the best coffee shops in Guildford, not by a long way, nor for that matter is Caracoli which has a board outside making that ridiculous claim.  It is like awarding Costa the nation’s favourite coffee shop brand, completely and utterly meaningless.

Whoever drew up the short list of coffee shops for Surrey, clueless on coffee.

The coffee beans used, catering supply for the trade, no roast date.

Why bother? There is no excuse these days for using poor quality coffee, other than cutting corners and do not care what you serve.

The notice also says, locally sourced. Since when has Scotland been local? There are plenty of coffee roasters locally or in London they could have used, could have used if they cared and knew anything about coffee.

And no, tea pigs is not quality tea.

Coffee Culture is not a coffee shop, it is a cafe that serves coffee masquerading as a coffee shop.

Take back coffee culture

May 9, 2016
Jam of the Week

Jam of the Week

Adbusters Jam of the Week:  Take back coffee culture: Support indie coffee shops.

Despite years of backlash, Starbucks can still be found on every corner around the globe. Its efforts to create an ethical image have done little to hide its dominating nature.

For centuries, coffeehouses were meeting places for philosophers, artists and activists. That’s where big ideas percolated and revolutions were hatched. But who wants to talk politics at Starbucks? Despite their attempts to manufacture an atmosphere of creativity and community, Starbucks remains an invasive presence in any neighborhood.

This week let’s break the corporate chain. Take a stroll in your neighborhood and zero in on one independent coffee shop you really like. Get to know the owner and the baristas who work there. Make it the place where from now on you connect with your community and your friends.

A couple of blocks from Adbusters, here in the Fairview Slopes neighbourhood of Vancouver, is a wonderful little indie coffee shop called Wicked. We go there almost every day, often to strategize and cook up campaigns . . . there’s something truly wonderful about being plugged in like that.

This week let’s give the indie coffee movement a worldwide boost . . . let’s walk away from Starbucks and never go back.

This is the revolution of everyday life.

For the wild,

— Team Adbusters

Old Town Square in Prague, girl drinking from a Starbucks takeaway. Another girl approaches, ‘scuse me, can you tell me where I can find Starbucks?

One of those moments when you want to cringe.

Starbucks at Prague Castle

Starbucks at Prague Castle

Prague Castle, the location with the most stunning view over Prague, occupied by Starbucks. A grass terrace, a spiral stone staircase. They were even queuing.

Why do people drink this disgusting coffee? Do they have no self-respect? is there something wrong with their sense of taste?

And it is not only Starbucks, Caffe Nero, Costa, are no better.

Nor is there any excuse when there are quality indie coffee shops, with their own unique atmosphere, where the barista can tell you more than you ever wished to know about coffee, where the coffee actually tastes good, is usually sourced direct from the farms, where you meet interesting people, and they pay their fair share of tax.

If you find an indie coffee shop serving excellent coffee with atmosphere, tell your friends, make it your meeting place.

The very first coffee shops in London were where people went to read newspapers, to discuss the issues of the day.