Posts Tagged ‘coffee shop’

Coffee Depot

April 19, 2022

It takes more than decour to create a coffee shop. The most important, the coffee, neglected. Cheap crap catering supply coffee from Lincoln Tea and Coffee, does not a coffee shop make.

A classic example of spoiling the ship for a ha’porth of tar.

Interior pleasant ambience, chairs, the tables, walls, lighting, but then ruined by serving cheap crap catering supply coffee from Lincoln Tea and Coffee, a company that sells bagged coffee, black over-roasted oily beans. Cheap low quality catering supply coffee that goes to greasy spoon cafes where they don’t care what they buy or serve, so long as it is cheap. It is not what a coffee shop worthy of the name that cares about its reputation would serve, or what any self-respecting barista passionate about coffee would touch with a bargepole.

Watch in any speciality coffee shop, coffee is ground fresh for each cup, weighed on accurate digital scales. At the end of the day the beans emptied from the hopper, stored in an airtight container, the burrs in the grinders cleaned.

There is a reason for this. Precision matters. Coffee beans are fragile, easily damaged by light, easy to oxidise, leaving stale beans. Once a bag of coffee beans opened, will go stale within a week. Once ground, will oxidise within minutes.

It says everything need to know about the coffee supplier, that they supply ground coffee, even worse claim it will last a year.

I ordered a cappuccino. Not good, cup size too large, chocolate added.

First impressions, not good.

Chocolate is never added to a cappuccino, there is only one size for a cappuccino, the correct size.

I took it back. Asked for no chocolate and the correct size cup.

What came back was so so. That it was drinkable, due credit to the barista. To be able to to produce a barely drinkable coffee from the poor quality beans is a credit to the barista. I left untouched after a few sips.

Seating outside, illegally obstructing a public highway. The risk, parents with a buggy forced into the road or worse, a disability scooter topples the rider into the road under a lorry. Why would anyone wish to sit outside breathing in traffic fumes?

The location is poor. On a busy main road, polluted, ten minute walk along the Brayford from the city centre. [see below directions from the city centre, the scenic route]

The coffee shop has potential, Ideally needs better equipment, better grinder, better espresso machine.

Throw out the ugly cups. And use correct cup size.

As a matter of top priority and urgency, ditch the rubbish coffee beans. There is absolutely no excuse for using cheap crap beans, especially not when we are spoilt for choice with roasteries that care about coffee, know what they are doing, take a pride in what they are doing.


– Seven Districts
– Two Chimps
– Cartwheel Coffee
– Outpost Coffee

Then we are spoilt for choice for guest coffee

– Coffee Gems
– Mad Heads

Mad Heads are in Kyiv, still operational, and can ship coffee to the UK. Exceptional coffee, and would be helping Ukraine. There are no import duties (Ukraine is not in the EU).

Ten minutes walk from the city centre. Twenty minutes out of a day. Maybe for exceptional coffee, only they are not serving expetional coffee. If wish for exceptional coffee have Coffee Aroma and Madame Waffle in the city centre. If wish for bad coffee have greasy spoon cafes and corporate chains.

Only one thing worse than serving bad coffee. An attitude that we know we are serving bad coffee but we can get away with it.

My visit it was busy, but not when I looked in following weeks. I learnt later there was an opening offer when I paid a visit.

Students have coffee shops on campus. Only there six months of the year.

Difficult to see will survive.

Directions: From the High Street walk down the side of Stokes on High Bridge, along the River Witham, alongside Brayford Pool, along Fossdyke, under a bridge, turn right to the end of the street, the Coffee Depot opposite. About a ten minutes walk.

Fresh Local & Wild

January 28, 2022

The entrance belies the size of the interior.

On entering it is like stepping into an empty warehouse, lots of empty space, and rows of tables as though a works canteen.

My interest was piqued, what was this new venture, how was the coffee?

Very little local in terms of local produce, but yes local businesses, each has a stall, the stalls not manned.

Bananas on the fruit and veg stall rotten, everything else appeared fresh.

Zero waste stall, no one to ask of the various products and I’d be reluctant to use the chutes.

Bread from Vine’s bakery on another stall. What happens to the bread at the end of the day, half price, given away?

Wild? I saw nothing wild.

The coffee?

I was pleasantly surprised. I had an excellent cappuccino, baristas who know how to make coffee. An espresso blend The Lincoln Imp from Seven Districts a local roastery.

Apart from their roastery in the middle of nowhere, the only place worth visiting to try Second Districts coffee.

Lincoln now has three excellent coffee shops

  • Coffee Aroma
  • Madame Waffle
  • Fresh Local & Wild

In the near future, it is hoped to have bags of Seven Districts coffee on sale.

When buying coffee beans, only buy from a reputable roastery or an indie coffee shop where they are passionate about coffee.

St Mark’s closed and boarded up retail units, little footfall, no surprise Fresh Local & Wild empty.

St Mark’s is out of the way, a detour from the town centre, but if passing by, then pop in for the coffee.

The location is not good, not in the town centre, and although hosting local businesses, a chain.

The ideal location would be the Lincoln Central Market and were it not for the dysfunctional local council lacking in vision, they would have kicked the tat out of the market, much needed renovation, then created something akin to Fresh Local & Wild, local businesses, quality local business not rubbish, art and a specialty coffee shop.

In the summer it is hoped to have outside seating.


My initial thoughts, with reservations, 5*, but now 2* and that is being generous.

Seven Districts and guest coffee from Two Chimps, but for how long, the baristas have walked, the coffee is terrible, and giving the roasteries a bad name?

The fruit and veg stall, rotten produce, one visit half the produce rotten. My last visit, only three baskets of what I would not describe as fresh.

Vines Bakery pulled out?

The coffee was the only reason for a visit, now not worth a visit.

Only two coffee shops in Lincoln worth visiting for decent coffee:

  • Coffee Aroma
  • Madame Waffle

How long before Fresh Local & Wild closed down? There is virtually zero footfall at St Mark’s, the store must be haemorrhaging money to pay the rent for a unit this size, plus staff, plus heating and lighting, plus business rates.


January 13, 2022

I had several people tell me Effy worth a visit.

Today a visit, my first visit.

My first impression stuffy, as can be from the steamed up windows. They need better ventilation, especially during coronavirus pandemic.

Awful lighting, a dull pink glow, which makes feel as though eyes are not functioning correctly.

Coffee on sale on the shelves Manhattan, a roastery in Rotterdam. Though not what I was served. Difficult to read what was written on the bag due to poor lighting.

A few cakes on display. Whether food served or not, I do not know.

I ordered a cappuccino. Bailies, a roastery in Ireland that I was familiar with. Short lived Flat Whites served Bailies as a guest coffee.

The only coffee shop I have seen an Origami in use other than in Athens, though not on sale. Using Kalita wave filter papers.

Knowledgeable and helpful barista.

Too busy to try, I left a few coffee beans of the coffee I had with me.

We now have four excellent coffee shops in Nottingham

  • Effy
  • The Specialty Coffee Shop
  • Kigali
  • Cartwheel Coffee

All within a few minutes walk of each other, a few minutes walk from Nottingham Station. 

From Kigali worth a detour to Sneinton Market to Luisa’s bean-to-bar craft chocolate and Neon Raptor craft beer brewery.

Kigali is located in Hockley, many interesting indie businesses. If looking to eat try Paste (Thai restaurant) or Ugly Bread Bakery. 

I asked did Manhattan have a coffee shop? No. It was recommended try Fuku Friedhats in Amsterdam. 

That is one of the nice things visiting coffee shops, recommendations of other coffee shops to visit. It my be a few minutes walk away, a nearby town, or even as in this case, another country. My visit to Effy was based on recommendations.  A friend had asked me, recommendations for Amsterdam?

General Store

December 9, 2021

A coffee shop cum general store selling high quality provisions, overlooking Winchester Cathedral.

I had found last year, looked in and stayed at least an hour longer than I would have wished.

It was quite busy, but not too busy.

I decided to stay and to have lunch. It was excellent. A rarity to find anywhere in Winchester worth eating.

Lunch followed by an espresso which was ok and a cappuccino which was excellent. Though I would have preferred not to have been served in takeaway cups. Why takeaway I do not know as my flapjack which was excellent was served on a plate.

As I was eating lunch, I looked out and noticed it was raining. It poured for the rest of the day. I was going to get wet.

I came away with a bar of chocolate, a box of chocolates and a bag of coffee.

Paper carrier bags are excellent for the environment, bloody useless when it rains. I visited Coffee Lab Academy, then as it was dark, a trip around the Christmas Market, half way round, paper carrier bag disintegrated. Luckily a stall holder came to my rescue with a sturdy Sainsbury’s bag.

I looked in General Store, open until late, to dry off, then headed to the station to catch a train.

Philly’s Coffee & Sandwiches

December 1, 2021

Philly’s Coffee & Sandwiches, a coffee shop cum sandwich shop, sadly takeaway only.

From the north end of Farnborough town centre, head West, a walk of about ten minutes along a very unpleasant busy polluted main road. A very cold walk on a cold day.

I find closed, or at least it said closed in the window. Door was open. I asked could I have a coffee, otherwise not only a wasted journey, an entirely wasted afternoon?

No window, rotted and being replaced, freezing cold, but at least I had a coffee.

Coffee sourced from a local roastery, Coffee Gems in Farnham. Wherever possible, quality and supply issues permitted, source locally.

I had an espresso, followed by a cappuccino.

It then chucked it down with rain, I stayed chatting. Long past closing time, but until window finished, could not close.

The only place in Farnborough serving drinkable coffee.

— to be continued —-

Karuna Coffee House closed

November 22, 2021

This world is full of idiots distributed strategically so you can meet at least one per day. — Paulo Coelho

I had passed by Karuna Coffee House on Saturday, found closed, a notice stating many days closed. Not that I had time for a coffee, as I was on my way to Farnham for a coffee.

Today, to save a wasted journey, I checked Facebook, no opening hours, no mention of the days closed.

I tried calling.

Next I posted a query on their Facebook page.

Coffee shop open today?

No opening hours on facebook page.

Nor mention of days closed.

I noticed passing by Saturday, closed and many days closed.

Their response a diatribe, when all required a simple answer to a simple question. Hours open, when open if closed.

As you point out in your post you saw on the door the notice letting you know when we are back to our regular working times. Detail is important, skipping it can create a biased posted.

Regular opening times can be found on the door. also a simple Google search will let you know too. Give it a go.

As an independent business we get to choose when we are open. As you would have seen the notice on the door states that we are taking annual leave. This is important to us, to ensure our team are at their best and that our regular customers get the service and quality they have grown to expect.

Furthermore, our regular customers knew weeks before when we were closing and when we reopen, we look forward to welcoming them.

My calm measured response to their diatribe.

Correct. When passing by noticed there were days when closed. Hence the question as could not find information in Facebook page. An obvious place to post, both opening hours and if additional days when closed.

A simple question requiring a simple answer. I had also tried calling.

The response an unbelievable diatribe.

Customer relations obviously not a strong point. Or how to make effective use of social media.

Maybe learn both, and more to the point answer a simple question on opening , not engage in a diatribe.

I have shown the response to where I am eating and they were incredulous.

I can only hope the coffee is not a reflection of the diatribe.

All that was required was their opening hours, when they are next open if days closed. Maybe having drawn to their attention, they post this information on their faceboook page for all to see.

Aldershot is somewhere to be avoided, boarded-up shops, rarely see anyone on the streets.

Not somewhere to open a coffee shop when no footfall on the street. Coffee shops open, serve undrinkable coffee, do not last long, then close.

Not therefore the way to treat an inquiry about opening hours.

They give their staff a holiday. What do they want, applause?

Do they pay their staff a real living wage? What are they paying the growers of the coffee, what premium above commodity price?

When think cannot get any worse, later in the evening using their facebook account to post abuse and personal attacks.

Something going very very wrong with this coffee shop.


Late night when think can get no worse, yet more attacks, this time with a name attached. Hard to believe all I did was ask when open.

Keith Parkins this is a very sad sad situation you have gotten yourself into here (AGAIN). At least we all know that you know the meaning of the word ‘diatribe’, except that perhaps you could learn were to direct it…. (yourself would be a good start).
Sorry you haven’t enjoyed our exchanges today. We have little patience (actually none) for you as we have gone around this mountain with you a few years ago, twice, and you simply don’t see the world the way most people do (not your fault). We’ll pass on you offering your opinion of us, we are doing just fine and our customers tell us so.
As mentioned before, your blogs/tweets/posts are something quite spiteful (but at least i’m reading them…. i mean, who else is???), when you see something you don’t like you just trash it publically (something you don’t like in return) without the business owner being given a choice or chance, although you do seem to be a hard man to please so i dare say it would be a wasted effort.
Although I am probably taking this way too far, Keith, I actually enjoy this, because no one else sees this the way you do. I have built this little coffee business up from the ground with my own hands, I have sweat, blood and tears invested into it and you taking issue with it really gets me going. Whats more, as a charity director, is that I don’t profit from this business, our community get coffee & cake of a good (to high) standard and reasonably priced. AND a community hub that is free to use, we simply try to be a force for good in the town that you have nothing good to say about (i know, it’s hard to believe i’m a good person after all this, i do try). On-top of that the profit that does come from our coffee and from the shop all goes to our charity that has provided education and healthcare to people all over the globe and we have done this for over 30 years. (WELL DONE US)
So, in closing, forgive me if the only words I ever utter to you in the future are not what you want to hear but my world is much bigger than your small opinions. And again please don’t come to our shop!! And have a nice day

Once again a reasonable measured response from myself.

Once again missing the point.
A simple question when open to save a wasted trip to Aldershot.
Easy enough to answer, but instead a diatribe.
I am not the one launching personal attacks, but at least we now have a name to the person launching the attacks.
I have said nothing about the coffee shop, I have not a view as was not open when I passed by.
I have highlighted your appalling lack of people skills, merely re-posted what you posted.
I am not sure how asking a perfectly reasonable question on opening hours is getting oneself into a situation. And it would not have even been necessary to ask, if posted on on facebook page, plus of course mention closed for several days for whatever reason.

This coffee shop claims to be a charity, though I have not seen a charity registration number listed as required.

If a charity, would require a board of trustees. The trustees need to be asking questions what is being posted in their name.

Each post more and more bizarre. And let us not lose sight that this is in response to a query when open.

Attacks on the business? None. I have not found open, I do not have a view. If they served bad coffee I would say so, if good coffee I would say so. I am merely highlighting the increasingly bizarre posts. If nothing else, highly unprofessional.

espresso martini at The Third Room

October 12, 2021

Foolish me I forgot to hit record.

Cocktail maestro Stasi Apostolou at The Third Room made an espresso martini.

Something I have never tried but have intended to make. It was excellent.

An excuse to return and this time hit record.

Espresso-based coffee

May 6, 2021

Excellent guide by European Coffee Trip to espresso-based coffee.

Walk into a coffee shop and two things will possibly catch your eye, an espresso machine and all too often a bewildering array of different espresso-based coffee to choose from, and to add to that confusion no consistency on how made or even on what they are called.

But first, what is espresso, what does it mean?

An espresso is finely ground coffee, water forced through the coffee at high pressure, nominally nine bars.

If thinking of home espresso, think again, a lot of work for a mug of coffee, not unless wish to have as a time consuming hobby. There are easier ways to make coffee at home.

If do wish to brew espresso at home, then look to a semi-professional machine, Rocket, Olympia Cremina, La Marzocco Linea Mini. An alternative is the 9Barista. Forget cheap domestic machines.

Espresso drinks explained

April 11, 2021

Walk into an indie coffee shop and we are faced with a confusing array of different coffee drinks.

There are espresso-based drinks, starting with a single shot or double shot espresso. Milk-based espresso drinks. Pour over filter coffee, V60, Chemex or Origami. And these are only the hot coffee drinks. We then have served cold espresso-based drinks, freddo espresso, freddo cappuccino. Cold brew coffee, immersion and cold drip. Japanese cold drip coffee.

To add further complexity, for the pour over filter coffee, we may be offered a choice of different coffee beans from different farms, different processing, different countries. My solution, I ask the barista to choose, and to explain their choice.

European Coffee Trip have provided a helpful overview of espresso-based coffees. But heed their warning, names can differ.

Personally, a cappuccino, occasionally an espresso if exceptional coffee. If not a cappuccino, a V60 pour over or in hot weather a cold brew coffee. There is also a choice of single shot or double shot.

Try espresso flight – single shot espresso – single shot cappuccino – glass of water – in line.

An espresso, fine ground coffee, extracted under 9 bars of pressure, typical dose 18g dose in the basket, 36g of espresso, 27–29 seconds, 12% extraction.

An espresso or cold brew can also be used as a base for elixirs, and cocktails.

When next in a coffee shop and asked what size cappuccino, respond the correct size. Too often, clueless on coffee, no idea how to serve a cappuccino. And no, cappuccino does not have chocolate dumped on top. The only reason chocolate dumped on top, to hide being served bad coffee.

Two excellent books with illustrated guides to espresso based drinks:

  • London Coffee
  • The World Atlas of Coffee

Follow your dreams

March 4, 2021

But be careful what you wish for…

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it. — Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

In The Alchemist Santiago follows his dreams.

Federico Bolaños had a dream.

Federico Bolaños did not like coffee. Not that is until he had a coffee at a friend’s house. He could not believe how good it was. He decided to open a coffee shop serving quality coffee that tasted like his friend’s coffee.

Together with business partners Federico Bolaños opened three coffee shops, Viva Espresso, in El Salvador.

Alejandro Mendez did not like coffee. When he applied for a job at Viva Espresso he knew nothing about coffee, he did not even like coffee.

Federico Bolaños saw he had potential and offered him a job. Alejandro Mendez thought he would be waiting on tables, maybe grinding coffee beans, he learnt to be a barista, found he liked coffee.

Federico Bolaños had a dream. His dream was that El Salvador would win the World Coffee Championship. No producer country had ever won the coffee champions. Alejandro Mendez would win the world championship for El Salvador.

Alejandro Mendez entered and he won. He was World Champion barista in 2011.

Federico Bolaños did not stop there. He saw the hunger in the eyes of his young baristas. They begged him to let them enter. Once again, his barista won, this time coming third place.

But all this exacted a heavy toll on his business. Entering championships cost money. On their return they found the businesses was close to collapse, injection of new capital was needed. New investors were brought in and their first act was to oust Federico Bolaños.

But like Santiago in The Alchemist he did not accept defeat, he did not give up on his dreams, it was the start of a new adventure.

His help was ought by a South Korean coffee company. He won again, this time with a female barista, only the second female baristas in the history of the world championships. Federico Bolaños had trained three world champions.

Our modern day alchemists take coffee beans, use fire, and turn it into an elixir.

Many of the baristas of Viva Espresso, now ex-baristas, have moved on to open coffee shops with their colleagues.

Federico Bolaños has established Alquimia Coffee, Alejandro Mendez established 4 Monkeys Coffee Roasters.

The story of Federico Bolaños and Alejandro Mendez following their dreams is now a Duolingo podcast.

James Harper is host and producer of Filter Stories, a documentary-style podcast revealing the often dark reality but with glimmers of hope of the world of coffee. The untold stories hidden in your cup of coffee. He has also produced Adventures in Coffee, a Caffeine Magazine podcast (hosted by Jools Walker and Caffeine founder Scott Bailey).

A longer version of this post has been published by The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop on Medium.  [see Follow your dreams]

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