Posts Tagged ‘coffee shop’


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-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]

James & James: Five Elixirs

February 6, 2021

Stories and elixirs inspired by James Baldwin and The Book of James. 

When James Hoffmann decided to hand February over to guest creators I thought ‘nah James, a bad idea’. How wrong could I be. But happily proven wrong with the first video, James & James: Five Elixirs.

Gilly Brewing Co, a coffee shop, a cocktail bar? Neither, Gilly Brewing Co are story tellers, creators of coffee-based elixirs.

Each season they create five elixirs. The winter season 2020 five elixirs based on James, James Baldwin novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, activist and The Book of James.

Stunning cinematography, a moving story, the readings, I was moved to tears watching.

Pretentious, but pretentious in a good way not a bad way.

The James & James Winter 2020 recipes can be found on the Gilly Brewing Co website and available to download an e-book.

I have though a criticism, anyone can use their recipes, but if a coffee shop or cocktail bar required to obtain a  licence. When I have shared what others have shown me, for example Yuzu signature drink which I was shown at The Barn Hackescher Markt I make the point, do not pass off as your own creation, credit the creators.

Speciality coffee is pushing the boundaries, it is also sharing, a philosophy James Hoffman has always been keen to encourage. An example would be leading baristas invited to 90 Plus estate in Ethiopia to work with their super-pickers, to create and share, one of who was Stefanos Domatiotis. Or James Hoffmann inviting guest videos.

Watching brought back to me a visit to The Third Room in Larnaca, two brothers,  a boutique hotel, a coffee shop that at night becomes a cocktail bar.  The coffee not quite up to scratch, I think the coffee beans used, James would have been able to hit the nail on the head.  Sourcing locally commendable and to be encouraged, but not at the expense of quality. I promised to source coffee supplies. Maybe James would care to send them samples.

The barista apologised, he was not really a barista, he had sought help from local coffee shops, Paul’s Coffee Roasters, Kaffea, Nick’s Coffee Bike, was a  cocktail maestro. He then offered to make me the most amazing cold brew coffee cocktail. But it was not only the cocktail, all the ingredients and concoctions he  had created, often from what they had grown, they own a vineyard and a distillery up in the mountains. All he lacked was quality coffee beans. With his level of sensory skills, this guy is going to brew amazing coffee. I see a future world champion Coffee in Good Spirits in the making.

Also came to mind The Alchemist, a novel by Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho. We are seeing alchemy in action, heat and fire used to turn coffee beans into an elixir. Gilly founders base their art on literature, let us see the two use The Alchemist for their next inspiration.

I would love to see a season of elixirs based on The Alchemist,  coupled  with readings from The Alchemist.

Coffee tells a story. Coffee has never been a mere beverage. It travelled into the Middle East from Yemen in mid-15th century, carried by Sufis as part of their religious devotions, not a drink for taste or to quench thirst, a psychoactive substance for use in religious ceremonies to bring closer to God. It spread into coffee houses, was subject to legal treatise and opinion, fatwas were issued. Coffee then spread across Europe.

With Gilly Brewing Co we are seeing another chapter open, alchemists practicing their arts.

A special thank you to James Hoffmann whose generosity made this video possible.

For more coffee stories please check out two podcasts: Filter Stories and Adventures in Coffee.

Ceylon House of Coffee revisited

December 11, 2020

Ceylon House of Coffee is owned by London House of Coffee in Sri Lanka. Designed to look like a tarditional Ceylon coffee house, it only serves Ceylon coffee.

I visited Monday, today paid a return visit.

I looked in on my way to lunch, then returned later.

Ceylon House of Coffee

December 7, 2020

Once upon a time, a century ago, coffee spread from Ethiopia to Ceylon, Ceylon was a major exporter of coffee. Then disease struck, the coffee trees were wiped out and had to be destroyed to stop, in vein, to try and halt the disease from spreading. Coffee was replaced by tea.

There is now an effort to establish the island’s coffee heritage, old trees located, new trees grown.

Coffee needs a coffee shop.

Ceylon House of Coffee is owned by the owner of a Ceylon coffee planation. High altitude arabica.

It was with trepidation I visited, my expectations low.

Ceylon House of Coffee is to recreate a traditional coffee house. Never having visited one, I would not know, but on walking in, I was transported to what in my mind’s eye I would expect, with the exception of modern espresso machine and a grinder.

I was introduced to the manager and head barista Rohan Pitumpe and spent the rest of the day talking all things coffee until well after the coffee shop had closed.

The coffee is roasted in Sri Lanka then shipped to England. As a general rule, added value in the source country is always a good idea, but for coffee no. Roasted coffee beans do not travel well, there is a risk of contamination, risk of delay, and with UK leaving EU this can only get worse with chaos at the borders. Already companies are stockpiling in anticipation of chaos in the New Year.

The coffee beans must be shipped to UK as green beans, then roasted locally by a skilled coffee roaster. Supply the green beans from Ceylon to a local roastery in UK, then supply the roasted beans to the coffee shop in Guildford.

If coffee is roasted locally, it will suit local palates, local water, and will not encounter supply delay.

Around the walls, information on the farm and history of coffee in Ceylon.

Very elegant coffee cups, equally elegant tea cups. Again reminiscent of what would expect of a traditional tea or coffee house.

The only time I have seen cups like this was in Ben Rahim, an Arabic coffee shop in Berlin.

A long time opening,  Problems with the builders, then covid-19 lockdown.

Open space in the middle, wooden floor, it could be a cabaret dance floor, tables and chairs arranged around the periphery.  Difficult to see what could be done with this open space. If tables and chairs, would be an obstruction to the bar. It could be one large old table, a communal table.

Large floor to ceiling windows which makes open and airy in daylight hours.

A coffee shop needs outdoor seating for the summer. This Ceylon House of Coffee lacks though has applied for permission. It would though be difficult as on a slope and not pleasant with passing traffic.

With changing coronavirus situation, opening hours are in flux, currently open until six thirty in the evening. Too late in the winter cold and dark and folk wish to get home. In the summer could be later.

In the future they hope to offer coffee related events.

And the coffee?

For a change, I chose an espresso. Not harsh, but could be better.

Followed by a cappuccino.

I did not have to send the cappuccino back, I did not have to say no chocolate. I was not asked did I want chocolate? I was served a cappuccino with no chocolate dumped on top. Why do so many coffee shops get it wrong?

The cappuccino, a little weak.

But the beans are roasted in Ceylon, then shipped to UK, far from ideal.

I looked forward to a shipment of green beans, roasted locally.

Currently it is not possible to purchase the coffee beans, but hopefully this will change when coffee is roasted locally.

Ceylon House of Coffee has on sale, of course, Ceylon tea.

For reasons unknown, Ceylon House of Coffee has been targeted by trolls and very unpleasant  fake reviews. Please ignore. Pay a visit and be pleasantly surprised.

I came way from Ceylon House of Coffee pleasantly surprised. It was a pleasure to visit. Sadly not often I feel that way, therefore always a pleasant surprise to find a coffee shop where they care about coffee. Such coffee shops do exist, but it is finding them, too many people open coffee shops, and roasteries, caring nothing about coffee and knowing even less.

We now have two excellent coffee shops in Guildford, Krema in Tunsgate and Ceylon House of Coffee at the bottom of the High Street.

Coronavirus biosecurity excellent.  Open and airy, high ceiling, table and chairs well spaced apart, hand sanitiser as walk in.


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