Posts Tagged ‘coffee shops’

Top Coffee Shops in Athens

April 11, 2021

I would hasten to add these four not my choice, nevertheless I agree, at least the three I know, o.kokkos I do not know and will have to try on my next visit to Athens post coronavirus pandemic.

Good to see my friends in two of the locations.

I was in Athens November of last year during lockdown, very little was open, restaurants were closed, a few coffee shops were open for takeaway and saw a slow but steady trickle of customers.

o.kokkos

A coffee shop I have not visited, have not heard of. I will have to check it out.

dyo goulies & dyo boukies

Excellent coffee shop, though not easy to find, and impossible to find when closed and the shutters down.

Tania the coffee, Nikos the food, though if Tania not there, Nikos more than capable with the coffee.

Used to serve Taf coffee. Now changed to a better roastery, Roller Roasters.

Peak a Bloom

Hidden down an alley very difficult to find if do not know where it is.

Was not open during lockdown.

Peak a Bloom have sister coffee shop, Mind the Cup, a Metro ride away from the centre.

Opposite Mind the Cup, Manor House also worth a visit.

The Underdog

The Underdog an excellent coffee shop, one of my favourite coffee shops in Athens.

A Five Gun Salute to the Origins of Coffee

March 11, 2021

Coffee, red coffee cherries, originate in the cloud forests of Ethiopia.

It brings to the drinker a sprightliness of spirit and a sense of mental well-being. — Ibn ‘Abd al-Ghaffar

Within the coffee cherry, two seeds or beans (one if a peaberry, en español caracolillo), roasted, has spread around the world to become one of the most valuable traded commodities. We may pay three dollars for a cappuccino, the price paid for green coffee beans is determined by commodity markets in London and New York, the grower, if commodity coffee, lucky to see three cents a kilo of green beans.

When I visit my friend’s farm, we are in the cloud forests of El Teide. I have thought, why not coffee? But if we planted, it would be ten years before we see a crop. Coffee is grown on Gran Canaria.

The cloud forests, the trees scrub water out of the clouds, it drips from their branches. Magical to pass through.

In the podcast the arrival of coffee in Arabia quickly glossed over, too quickly. Brought in by the Sufis from Yemen in the mid-15th century as part of their religious devotions.  It would though have needed more to penetrate society. Merchants saw an opportunity, but it would not have been enough to simply bring in coffee, pile sacks of coffee in the market, no demand, what to do with it. Kiosks were established in markets to serve coffee, then coffee shops and more luxurious coffee houses, with fountains, shade of trees, often by a river.

In Arabia, coffee effected cultural change. It provided a meeting place, in addition to the mosque and the market, it was a place to socialise. Also a place to hatch plots.

Two Syrians took coffee to Istanbul, as a ready made off-the-shelf package, opened coffee shops.

According to the Ottoman chronicler Ibrahim Pecevi: (1574-1560) coffee and the coffee house was introduced to Istanbul by two Syrians Hakm and Shams around 1556.

Mocha became wealthy on coffee, in essence they held a monopoly.

In Turkey, drinking of coffee elevated almost to an art form.

In its introduction into the Middle East, coffee was never a mere beverage. It was the subject of fatwas, legal treatise, edicts, a psychoactive substance, an affront to the Koran, a commodity to speculate upon, coffee houses, places to socialise, hatch plots, exchange news, coffee shops to be closed, burnt to the ground.

I agree Dark Woods an excellent roastery but for their single origins, not their espresso blends, for espresso blends I would look elsewhere. In Sheffield they have something of a local monopoly, South Street Kitchen, Motore Coffee, Union Street.

Dark Woods is located in an old Victorian Mill, on a canal in the Pennines in the middle of nowhere.

The podcast needs an accompanying blog for each episode. With sound, one can only visualise the internal structure of a coffee cherry, a cloud forest, the terraces in Yemen.

A recent news item of Saudi genocide in Yemen (UK supplies the weapons), showed a town perched on a mountain top, cascading terraces.

Coffee from Yemen nigh impossible to obtain and until recently, no one wanted, as poor quality.

The terraces are used for growing qat (Catha edulis), a narcotic close relative of coffee, far more profitable than growing coffee, qat even has its own UN designation.

I am curious the terraces. In Tenerife, similar terrace system, water tanks store the water, channels run along the walls, distribute the water to the terraces. A stalk from banana tree used to close a channel. A complex cooperative scheme for water distribution.

Ethiopia, from where coffee originated.

Contemporary writers in Medieval Arabia saw coffee as coming from Yemen. It may also have come from Ethiopia and one writer did mention Ethiopia. Trade routes passed through Ethiopia. To reach Arabia, the coffee passed through Mocha.

One of the most influential 16th century writers on coffee, Abd al-Qadir al-Jaziri (fl 1558), after speaking of the introduction of coffee to Yemen, cautions his readers:

We say [that this account pertains to] the Yemen alone [lit not anywhere else] because the appearance of coffee [was] in the land of Ibn Sa’d al-Din and the country of Abyssinians and of the Jabart, and of other places of the land of the Ajam, but the land of its first [use] is unknown, nor do we know the reason.

Of consideration to contemporary writers, was not the origin of coffee, their main focus was to establish when and where coffee came into Arabia, and equally important, by whom and for what reason it was introduced.

Contemporary Arab writers have no myth of dancing goats (introduced later by Europeans as an embellishment), they do though have a myth and treat as a myth, of Solomon using coffee for medicinal use on the command of the angel Gabriel.

Contemporary accounts agree on two points:

  • coffee came from Yemen
  • coffee used by Sufis as part of their religious devotions

Carolus Linnaeus attributed coffee to Arabia, Coffea arabica.

The mountainous terraces of Yemen where coffee was grown, were remote then, are remote today, were not the centre of the Medieval Arab Islamic world. It is thus not inconceivable coffee would have been consumed for centuries before word of coffee spread to Arabia.

Sufis were not a monastic order, they were members of the local community, part of wider society, had day jobs.  If coffee was of use in the dhikr as a psychoactive drug, would it not have its use getting through the tedium of the day, the wife or servants asked to brew a pot of coffee?

Writing in the early 16th century Fakhr al-Din ibn Abi Yazid al-Makki writes:

And as for us, qishr reached us in Rey in Mecca and other places twenty or more years ago, but qahwa made from it did not spread until the end of the ninth [fifteenth] century.

Coffee was on sale in the streets outside the mosque.

  • qishr:  husks of the coffee bean or a beverage made exclusively from the husks.
  • qahwa: coffee; more precisely stimulating beverage made from the fruit of Coffee arabica.
  • qahwa bunniya: beverage made from the kernels (bunn) or from the husks and kernels.
  • qahwa qishriya: beverage made exclusively from the husks.
  • bunn: coffee beans; specifically the kernel as opposed to the husk.

Coffee was on sale in the streets outside the mosques.

The spread of coffee from Yemen into Arabia, from the Sufis, to the streets outside the mosque, to the home, in public, two decades, maybe a mere decade.

Jaziri tells us:

[After the spread of coffee to Egypt and its brisk consumption in the precincts of the Azhar] the situation continued along these lines: much coffee was drunk in the quarter of the mosque; it was sold openly in a multitude of places. In spite of the long time [that it had been drunk], not a soul gave a thought of interfering with coffee drinkers nor did anyone find fault with the drink either in itself or because of factors [associate with but] external to it, such as passing the cup around and the like. All this was in spite of the fact that it had become widespread in Mecca, and was drunk in the Sacred Mosque itself, so that there was scarcely a dhikr or observance of the Prophet’s birthday (mawlid) where coffee was not present.

We know coffee was well established in Mecca by 1511 due to an edict issued by a local governor regarding  suspicious characters gathered to drink coffee. Kha’ir Beg, pasha of of the Malmuks in Mecca and muhtasib of the town, happened upon a group one night drinking coffee. As he approached they extinguished their lanterns and ran away. He called a meeting the following day of scholars and jurists to rule on gatherings to drink coffee and of coffee itself.

I may care to drink craft beer but I may object to the drunken scum in binge-drinking bars.

The activities coffee drinkers were permitting were like taverns where consumption of wine took place. Coffee was not forbidden by the Koran, unlike wine, indeed, if created by God, who was Man to decide it could not be consumed? Coffee though a grey area, not explicitly forbidden, on the other hand, if a psychoactive substance, should it not be treated as alcohol?

Such distinctions and controversies were not restricted to Mecca in 1511, coffee periodically forbidden, the prohibitions ignored, then rescinded.

The arrival of coffee and especially the coffee shop and coffee house, was to have great impact on society and economic life.

Were the clientele of a specialty coffee shop today to hop on a H G Wells time machine and pedal back to a coffee shop or coffee house in Medieval Arabia they would not find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings. The main difference being the serving of undrinkable coffee.

Please obtain Coffee: A Global History from Blackwell’s. Support independent bookshops not Amazon. Or, with indie bookshops closed, order Coffee: A Global History via Bookshop.Org an on-line portal for indie bookshops. But please note on-line service by Blackwell’s appalling, long wait for book to arrive.

Checking out the farms, a good idea, but please do not direct to or promote Instagram, more data for facebook to steal and abuse.

To enjoy your coffee, need to buy fresh roasted coffee from specialty coffee shop or reputable coffee roastery. Always buy coffee beans, freshly grind each time brew.

Invest in a quality hand grinder or electric grinder, cheap grinders a waste of money.

Hand grinders in ascending price range: Rhino, CrushGrind, Knock, Comandante.

Electric grinder: Niche Zero.

To brew filter coffee: V60, swan-neck kettle, digital scales, or an Origami.

To brew espresso: 9Barista, cheap domestic machines a waste of money, unreliable, cheapest semi-pro machine La Marzocco linea mini.

Water: Cannot brew coffee with tap water, use bottled spring water or a water filter. Minimum, Brita water filter, or better and designed for coffee Peak water filter.

Once indie coffee shops reopen, please support. And please show respect for the coffee, relax with served in glass or ceramic. And if not busy, have  a chat with the barista.

Read

  • The Devil’s Cup
  • Where the Wild Coffee Grows
  • The Monk of Mocha
  • Coffee and Coffee Houses
  • The World Atlas of Coffee

Listen

A History of Coffee a collaboration between James Harper of Filter Stories podcast and Jonathan Morris, Professor of History and author of Coffee: A Global History.

Is coffee too expensive?

February 21, 2021

Excellent points made by James Hoffmann, but we should be talking about coffee shops not cafes.

Several years ago, Puerto de la Cruz, there was for as long as I can remember a bookshop, then I am sorry to report it closed, a sad loss.

A young couple, not locals, decided to open a bakery. Prime location, on a corner, behind the main church. But quality bread locals were not willing to pay the price. It changed to a coffee shop, with excellent cakes, and continued to sell bread.

They decided not to cut corners on the coffee, not buy the cheapest rubbish coffee. He said everyone was looking at it from the wrong end. They were looking at how much they were paying for a bag of coffee, not looking at the difference it made to the actual cost of a cup of coffee.

Net result was busy, always busy, but not with locals, with German tourists.

And that was the point I was making. Tourists are used to drinking quality coffee. They will not drink the cheap crap that is being served.

Other bars and cafes would tell him, you need a widescreen TV. I told him no, lack of made you different, that was why you were busy and the others empty.

The next year I am sorry to say he installed a widescreen TV. And as I told him would happen, he lost all his clientele.

If we look at coffee shops, located on a side street, not the main street, rent and business rates will be a third but still too high.

I have this discussion with people all the time. Coffee is too expensive. I have the same conversation craft beer.

Quality costs money, time and care costs money.

I say no, you are paying for a quality product, and no you are not being ripped off. The coffee shop is paying for quality coffee beans, has invested in high quality equipment, is employing skilled staff.

Where you are being ripped off, is when you are being charged high prices in a corporate coffee chain, where you are being served undrinkable coffee, cheap coffee beans, brewed by staff who may wear a sweatshirt that says barista, but the one thing they are not is a barista.

Cauz Coffee, a branding exercise for a clothing company, launched Monday 22 January 2021 make ludicrous claims of high profit margins by others in the business, but provide no evidence to support their claim. They make equally bullshit claims the quality of their coffee. Why would anyone wish to buy branded coffee from a clothing company when spoilt for choice with reputable coffee roasteries? Why indeed?

No one I know is getting rich on coffee. But yes, enjoy what they are doing, take a pride in what they are doing, and are grateful they can earn a living doing what they enjoy.

Fixed costs need to be addressed. This is for society to address, not the coffee shop.

The lowest paid, wages are too low, so low subsidized by the state. It is not for the state to subsidise bad employers. Minimum wage should rise, to where it is affordable to live on.

Furlough needs to continue, to be replaced by a Basic Income. As the economy recovers, replace Basic Income with Universal Dividend. No one should be employed on zero hours contracts.

Rents have been driven up to obscene levels. In part, greedy, grasping landlords, but also corporate chains driving up rents, funded by debt. The chains then collapse, not longer able to service their debt, taking out our town centres.

The rent bears no resemblance to reality. Coronavirus has accelerated the trend to on-line shopping by at least five years. People will not return, not to buy the same consumer crap they can as easily buy on-line. We have to reinvent our town centres, drive out the car, rebuild from the bottom up, support independent businesses like coffee shops that recycle money within the local economy.

Business rates, a property tax, too high, but has advantage the one tax big business cannot dodge.

We need to levy a revenue tax of 5% on Big Tech and tax dodging corporations for example Starbucks.

We can all help. We can push for societal change, we can support our local coffee shops, take our friends for a coffee, especially those who do not like coffee or patronise coffee chains. They will be pleasantly surprised when they discover what real coffee actually tastes like.

Am I damaging the planet with my coffee habit?

February 13, 2021

Are reusable coffee cups doing more harm than good?

Indie coffee shops are as always showing the way, ahead of the game, compostable coffee cups, reusable cups, but are we doing more harm than good?

We are in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic, takeaway coffee cups, contactless payments, necessary evils to stop the spread of coronavirus.

Best practice is that shown by Coffee Aroma. Only one person allowed into the coffee shop at a time, contactless payment only, takeaway cups a necessary evil, no reusable cups. No reusable cups accepted, anyone who tries will not be served and if persist will be asked to leave.

At the other end of the spectrum, Brian of Brian’s Coffee Spot going around coffee shops insisting they take his coffee cups, in one coffee shop he handed over two different coffee cups, then bragging on social media his cups accepted and encouraging others to do the same. Highly irresponsible behaviour.

A minority of coffee shops have reusable coffee cups on sale. Why reusable cups on sale? If on sale customers will expect to be able to bring in reusable cups. When I have queried this, no one should be using reusable cups during coronavirus pandemic, I was told if someone brings a reusable cup, they fill a takeaway cup, up to the customer to then fill their own reusable cup. Somewhat self-defeating.

It cannot be emphasised enough, no one should be taking a reusable coffee cup to a coffee shop, no coffee shop should be accepting. It is to introduce an unnecessary disease vector that puts staff and customers at risk.

Compostable coffee cups are not compostable, at least not on a compost heap, they will biodegrade in an industrial biodegrader, though I have found they will compost on a well made compost heap. What do we we do with them once we have drunk our coffee, unless on our way home to drop on the compost heap, assuming we have a garden let alone a compost heap.

Reusable coffee cups simply address a symptom, not the underlying problem of grab it and go, instant gratification, pointless consumerism.

The only way to enjoy a coffee is to relax in an indie coffee shop with coffee served in glass or ceramic, which sadly not possible in the midst of coronavirus pandemic. And even when coffee shops were open, even before the first lockdown, many coffee shops were only serving in takeaway cups contactless payment to reduce the risk of cross infection.

Coffee shops get lumped together with pubs as hospitality, they should not be, they were not spreading coronavirus.

When we come out of lockdown, it should be slowly slowly, pause at each stage with a willingness to immediately impose hard lockdown, with testing in the community. We should close our city centres to traffic, pedestrianise the streets, the first to open as the weather warms up indie coffee shops and restaurants with socially distanced tables in the street. Win win for everyone, kick starts the local economy, helps local businesses, improves city centre ambience.

I would berate Scott though not for forgetting his reusable cup and using a takeaway cup. I would berate Scott for using either. If the coffee was so good he wished to brag about, why did he drink it from a disposable cup (pandemic excepted but then should not be using a reusable cup)? I would berate Scott for not relaxing in a coffee shop, the excellent coffee served in glass or ceramic. To do anything less, is to not do justice to the coffee and the person who brewed it.

Would we treat a red wine in this way, slosh into a takeaway cup and jog off down the street? I think not, not unless we are a wino. Therefore why do we treat coffee with such contempt?

We face several existential crisis, global pandemics, climate change, plastic pollution, mass species extinction. We have to address all, we cannot pick and choose.

UK later this year hosts COP26. Cumbria has given the go ahead for expansion of coal mining, Leeds airport expansion, relaxation of rules on night time flying at Leeds Bradford Airport.

Worrying about drinking a cappuccino is pissing in the wind. We would better direct our efforts at closing down drive-thru takeaway coffee outlets.

Plastic-lined takeaway cups contribute to plastic pollution.

Currently whilst in the midst of a global covid-19 pandemic, a takeaway cup a necessary evil to reduce risk of cross infection. No one should be taking a takeaway coffee cup to a coffee shop, no coffee shop should accept, it is to introduce an unnecessary disease vector which puts staff and customers at risk.

Grass-fed cows, the grass continually eaten acts a carbon sink, improves soil structure, soaks up rain water, soaks up carbon, slows flash floods, good for wildlife. We have woods, hedgerows, ponds and marshes.

Yes, we should be concerned about about our carbon footprint. A cappuccino is the least of our worries.

Drinking a cup of coffee, drive to a drive-thru coffee shop? What of flights?

Fake milks cause huge environmental damage, soy destruction of rainforest (and unless certified organic almost certainly gmo), almonds drain the California water table.

I would not have coffee beans shipped from outside the country, not when add shipping cost. On the other hand, if out of the country, I may pick up a bag of coffee and bring it back home.

But what of my arranging coffee beans to Cyprus? If not, do we deny coffee shops source of speciality coffee beans?

Beggars belief incineration being suggested as alternative to landfill, landfill we are running out of, hence a landfill tax.

No, we close the loops, we reduce waste, we do not use takeaway cups, we do not use reusable cups. In the natural world waste does not exist either in time or space, output of one process feeds into another process.

How many coffee shops place their spent coffee grounds outside in a strong paper bag to be taken away to be used on the garden?

Carbon neutral transport? Electric vehicles powered by renewable sources, or the carbon offset scam? The only way to reduce carbon in the atmosphere is not to emit carbon.

We have to look at whole life cycle cost. At best the plastic cup can be downcycled, the metal cup recycled many times, the energy recovered.

And that was the problems with the discussion, takeaway cups or reusable cups, which is the better? Neither, neither should exist, instead we should address the underlying problem of takeaway culture.

If we care about the coffee we are drinking, let us do it justice, let us show respect for the barista, the roastery, the farm and the growers.

Laura Young sums up Oatly:

I don’t want my money going to the destruction of the planet, and putting peoples lives and land at risk just so that I can have a creamy coffee in the morning!

A man flogging fake milk tells us to drink fake milk. Now who would have guessed that?

Comparison of Oatly with milk from cows was biased, but then what to expect when the source is someone flogging fake milk.

We heard of transparency. No mention of acquisition of a share of Oatly by Vulture Capitalists responsible for forest destruction or by a Chinese state owned company to facilitate access to the Chinese market.

Oatly used to be a small company that made a profit. They are now a big company that made a loss of $35 million in 2019.

The comparison was with industrial agriculture, the same industrial agriculture producing oats for Oatly, intensive agriculture.

Cows have an advantage, they are very efficient at converting to something edible what we cannot eat, converted to meat, milk and cheese, cheese produced by an age old natural method of fermentation.

Yes, cows produce methane, and yes methane 20 times more potent than CO2, but CO2 lasts decades in the atmosphere, whereas the methane produced by the cows short lived. We fill a field with cows, assuming we do not increase the stocking level, a small increase in atmospheric methane which will then remain constant, it will not increase, the grassy field will be a carbon sink.

No mention of nutritional deficiency

The only thing can be said in favour of Oatly, one of the better fake milks, nevertheless a cappuccino poured with Oatley looks and tastes disgusting.

Is that milk with your cappuccino or watered down porridge with enzymes added?

Milk needs fat for structure and flavour, essential for a cappuccino.

If do not wish for milk in a coffee, then ask for a V60 pour over.

The only fake milk maybe worth trying, and I confess I have yet to try, Rebel Kitchen, they at least have attempted to address the issue of fat.

Plant-based has become the new low fat, a means of marketing the output of global food corporations.

We should be supporting grass-fed agriculture, agroforestry, not monoculture, rows of monoculture crops which require herbicides, fertiliser, pesticide, will enable runoff, loss of soil, no improvement of soil structure.

Climate Change is a result of a mindset, that is based on monoculture, fossil fuels, chemicals, corporate control. We do not address Climate Emergency by applying the same mindset that caused the problem, global corporations trying to control what we eat and drink, destruction of local culture and diversity, is not the answer.

Excellent environmental issues being raised and discussed, but please do not greenwash on behalf of Oatly.

Adventures in Coffee a collaboration between Caffeine Magazine, Jools Walker and Filter Stories. Presented by Jools Walker and Scott Bentley.

A better fake milk?

January 11, 2021

Eating avocados on toast and drinking almond milk won’t save the world. — Glen Burrows

Plant-based food. The latest Big Business con, peddling ultra-processed crap at massive profit, putting family farms out of business.

Do not take my word for it, take a long hard look at the long list of ingredients.

Occasionally I try. I tried fake-meat cocktail sausages from M&S, only because reduced. They were disgusting, one bite was enough to turn stomach over. Thrown out for the wildlife. Even after days of hard frost, food scarce, remained untouched.

Food scientists devise novel ways of peddling cheap ingredients laced with additives.

We are into second week of the gimmick of Veganuary. Always hyped how many signed up, rarely mentioned the numbers that drop out. And it is neither healthy nor good for the planet.

Vegetarian even vegan, can be healthy, delicious, it does not have to be over-processed meat imitations, unhealthy alternatives.

For many years I used to eat in Food For Thought in Covent Garden, excellent food, sadly no more, forced out of business by greedy landlords.

Fake milks cause environmental damage. Soy destruction of rainforests, almonds grown in California drain the water table, then consider the pesticides, herbicides, artificial fertilisers, water run off, flash floods.

Fake milk makes disgusting coffee. Of all the fake milks, oat-based marginally better, Minor Figures cheap and nasty. When seen in a coffee shop is because they are not willing to spend the money on a superior alternative. Oatly marginally better, the best of a bad lot, but now owned by Vulture Capitalists and thus not an ethical choice. None of these fake milks will make a decent cappuccino. The best that can be done blend the milk in with the coffee to make a muddy brown singularly unappealing coffee.

Somewhat ironic, lesswastelaura, posts her ethical concerns on Instagram.

If do not wish for milk, real milk, for whatever reason in your coffee, ethical, lactose intolerant, then drink V60 pour over in a speciality coffee shop.

Support regenerative agriculture, agroforestry. Grass-fed cows, the grass is a carbon sink, improves soil structure, good for wildlife, reduces runoff and flash flooding. Contrast with rows of monoculture crops, poor soil structure, runoff and flash floods, bad for wildlife, no carbon capture. The artificial fertilizers, which run off into our rivers, are manufactured from fossil fuels.

Replacing factory-farmed meat with processed vegan food, is not solving a problem, it’s shifting it somewhere else.

If like me, enjoy a cappuccino, then maybe, and it is a Big if, I have yet to try, then maybe Rebel Kitchen Mylk for Baristas.

Rebel Kitchen claim a better fake milk for baristas. Is it? Is it good for the environment?

Rebel Kitchen do at least appear to be making an effort to be environmentally sustainable. It was also interesting to hear an explanation and rationale for each of their ingredients. How many food scientists would have the honesty and integrity to offer an explanation for each of their ingredients?

Nothing beats raw unpasteurised milk off a farmers market added to muesli in the morning.

Caffe Nero lack of social distancing

January 4, 2021

Tuesday of last week, two days before tier 4 on New Year’s Eve, lack of social distancing in Caffe Nero, top end of Lincoln High Street.

Half a dozen people lined up at the counter. Half a dozen people putting themselves and staff at risk. This is an example of why covid-19 is out of control and why a highly infectious strain B117 is spreading like wildfire.

Covid-19 is a respiratory disease, it spreads person-to-person, it spreads through people touching contaminated surfaces.

Not only Caffe Nero.

I think it was the previous week, a family butcher a notice on the door, people not able to count, I counted seven inside, the notice said three.

A local baker, limit of three people posted on the door, people take no notice, often there will be three people stood in the doorway, blocking the way as leave the shop.

Guildford, first Saturday after the second lockdown, first Saturday of December, the town was packed, too many people on the street lack of social distancing. Looking in coffee shops, no social distancing as customers queued for a takeaway coffee.

It is not difficult to form an orderly social distanced queue outside.

Coffee Aroma in Lincoln sets a standard that others need to follow:

  • one customer
  • form an orderly queue outside not blocking the door
  • contactless payment
  • takeaway coffee cups
  • no reusable cups

We prevent spread of covid-19 by avoiding other people, keeping our distance, avoiding overcrowded enclosed spaces.

From midnight, England goes into lockdown. Will remain in lockdown until at least mid-February. England should have gone into knockdown Christmas Day.

Reclaim the Streets Lincoln

June 13, 2020

Saturday 13 June 2020 day eighty two of coronavirus lockdown in Lincoln. How many weeks has the city had to pedestrianise the city centre leading up to and including Bailgate, to enable independent coffee shops and restaurants to put their tables in the streets?

It is a tragedy the number of coffee shops and tea rooms either closed or eking out a meagre living on takeaways.

Sincil Street two coffee shops, Central Coffee House and 200 Degrees.

Central Coffee House closed, overlooks sterile open space. No indication of when or if it will open.

200 Degrees opened a few weeks ago for takeaway, overlooks a sterile open space.

Stokes on High Bridge, High Street, will open in a few days time for takeaway only.

Coffee Aroma closed. Will open sometime in the near future for takeaway only. They wished to open with tables in the street. They asked and received an emphatic no from County Hall.

Unfortunately we will not agree to you increasing the number of tables and chairs you use or the size of the area that you have at the current time (your enclosure needs to still be only outside the frontage of your premises).

Not even the courtesy of an explanation.

Angel Coffee House, closed, no indication if or when may open.

Madame Waffle closed. Not open in the foreseeable future. Will announce when open.

Margaret’s Tea Room. Open for tea and coffee takeaway. Overlooks a square where would love to place tables.

The Cheese Society currently closed, adjacent to the same square overlooked by Margaret’s Tea Room, where they too could place tables and chairs.

Many tea shops on Steep Hill, but not open, no indication if or when will open.

I talked to the owner of one tea shop. She thinks she may be able to open with restrictions on numbers but no idea when.

The one exception, Bookstop Cafe, located in a Norman croft below a Norman building which houses Imperials Teas, purveyors of fine tea, coffee and chocolate. They opened a few weeks ago for takeaway tea and coffee, tables outside. The tables removed by edict of  a Town Hall jobsworth acting like the Stasi on a tip off.

In Bailgate only Sanctuary in the Bail open for takeaway tea and coffee. Would love to see Bailgate pedestrianised and tables in the street.

There are several restaurants in Bailgate. Only Elite on the Bail open, serving takeaway fish n chips out the back. Elite on the Bail overlooks a square where tables could be placed.

We must reclaim the streets.

We hear the sound of birdsong, the streets are traffic free, the cities are pollution free. There can be no return to normal as normal was not normal.

We have been jolted into another now. We must maintain our city centres car and pollution free.

In Athens in the evening the streets turn into restaurants. Athens is expanding its network of pedestrianised streets.

Northern Ireland is looking at expanding the number of tables in the streets.

Sheffield has plans to expand pedestrianised streets.

Paragon Chambers in Hull, coffee shop encouraged to place tables outside.

North Laine in Brighton the restaurants, coffee shops and other shops are in the street. There are plans to expand the pedestrianised streets.

Soho has plans to pedestrianise the area, turn into one large open air coffee shop and restaurant. Currently awaiting approval from Westminster Council.

Unless indie coffee shops and restaurants are allowed to spread their tables into pedestrianised streets few will survive covid-19 pandemic.

Many coffee shops have no future. Too small to manage social distancing. A kiosk can survive on takeaway only, a coffee shop with higher overheads cannot.

We had sunniest May on record, Mediterranean climate. The tragedy indie coffee shops and restaurants were not able to spread their tables into the street.

Win win for everyone. Kick starts the local economy, maintains social distancing, helps local businesses back on their feet, improves city centre ambience.

It is not only coffee shops at risk it is the entire supply chain. There are the coffee roasteries that supply the coffee shops, the growers who supply the coffee beans.

We all have to act. If not, we lose our coffee shops.

Talk to local councils and councillors, change the mindset that allows traffic into city centres, pedestrianise the city centre, allow indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread their tables into the street, no chains no pubs No Smoking.

Government has to extend furlough for local businesses if they are unable to open. Reducing social distancing from two metres to one metre does not help as it greatly increases the risk for staff and customers.

Lincoln should follow the example of Soho, Soho Summer Street Festival, introduce with immediate effect temporary measures for the summer, Sincil Street, High Street, Cornhill, The Strait, Steep Hill, Castle Hill and Bailgate, pedestrianised, tables in the street, indie coffee shops and restaurants, no chains no pubs No Smoking. Then carry out consultation with the aim to make permanent.

Update: Excellent news from Soho. The area to be pedestrianised, roads closed to traffic, indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread their tables into the streets. And not only Soho, Covent Garden and other areas too. The excellent news from Soho only serves to Illustrate how backward Lincoln and lacking in vision. County Hall and City Hall have had weeks to implement a similar scheme in Lincoln, enable indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread their tables into the street, to help them get back into businesses. It revitalises the local economy, improves the ambience of the city centre.

Covid-19 indie coffee shops

June 12, 2020

Will indie coffee shops survive covid-19 pandemic?

I will roughly divide thoughts, observations and conversations before lockdown, during lockdown and what will happen next.

Maybe ten days before lockdown, a visit to Nottingham a large city, not deserted but few people about. One coffee shop closing early few customers. Next coffee shop, few customers, less than half their usual number of customers,  numbers dropping daily.

A couple of days before lockdown, visiting Sheffield a large city, station deserted, a kiosk on my way into the city centre told me I would find the city centre deserted, few people about, little open, restaurants I passed by, the few that were open, the few that had customers maybe a couple of diners. I ate and had coffee at Marmadukes, a coffee shop usually very busy, I was the only person there. Business down by at least 80%. Coffee shops were closing at three. In part no customers, in part to let staff home before rush hour, not that there was a rush hour. Talking to the owner of another coffee shop, the question on his mind, how was he to survive?

Before lockdown, measures were already in place, hand sanitiser by the entrance, compostable coffee cups, contactless cards, no reusable cups.

The kiosk in Sheffield I passed by earlier, after I talked to them, a sign no reusable cups.

Lockdown a mixed blessing, at least cost of staff covered by furlough, rents deferred.

Lincoln a city during lockdown. The chains stayed open for a few days then closed. Indie coffee shops closed immediately. A few weeks ago, one large coffee shop a small chain opened for takeaway. A slow trickle of customers but I doubt it will cover the cost of two staff. The only advantage, they are open before the corporate chains, maybe they will attract and retain some of their clientele.

Many coffee shops have no future. Too small to manage social distancing. A kiosk can survive on takeaway only, a coffee shop with higher overheads cannot. The large coffee shop, once rents and business rates kick back in, would not survive.

We had sunniest May on record, Mediterranean climate. The tragedy indie coffee shops and restaurants not able to spread their tables into the street. Win win for everyone. Kick starts the local economy, maintains social distancing, helps local businesses back on their feet, improves city centre ambience.

One coffee shop asked. They received an emphatic no. They currently employ eight staff on furlough. When furlough ends six will lose their jobs leaving two for takeaway coffee, but not a viable businesses.

Unfortunately we will not agree to you increasing the number of tables and chairs you use or the size of the area that you have at the current time (your enclosure needs to still be only outside the frontage of your premises).

Not even the courtesy of an explanation.

Looking at Guildford, the corporate coffee chains that litter our town centres, cafes pretending to be coffee shops, three coffee shops. Of the three I cannot see Canopy Coffee or Surrey Hills surviving as they do not have the option to expand into the street. Krema yes, if allowed to expand into Tunsgate, if not no. When first open, Krema did have its tables in the street and was ordered to remove them.

It is not only coffee shops at risk it is the entire supply chain. There are the coffee roasteries that supply the coffee shops, the growers who supply the coffee beans.

We can hear bird song, streets are traffic free, cities pollution free. We have been jolted into another now. There can be no going back to normal as normal was not normal.

We have to reclaim the streets.

In Athens in the evening the streets turn into restaurants. Athens is expanding its network of pedestrianised streets.

Sheffield has plans to expand pedestrianised streets.

North Laine in Brighton the restaurants, coffee shops and other shops are in the street. There are plans to expand the pedestrianised streets.

Soho has plans to pedestrianise the area, turn into one large open air coffee shop and restaurant. Currently awaiting approval from Westminster Council.

We all have to act. If not, we lose our coffee shops.

Talk to local councils and councillors, change the mindset that allows traffic into city centres, pedestrianise the city centre, allow indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread their tables into the street, no chains no pubs No Smoking.

Find and locate your local indie coffee shops. Support them.

If anyone wishes to follow me on social media, I will try and post every day indie coffee shops worth visiting and supporting. No guarantee they are open or when they will open.

Buy coffee. If not from a local coffee shop, from a coffee roastery.

Buy bean-to-bar craft chocolate.

Support local businesses.

Government has to extend furlough for local businesses if they are unable to open. Reducing social distancing from two metres to one metre does not help as it greatly increases the risk for staff and customers.

Reclaim the Streets

May 16, 2020

We hear the sound of birdsong, the streets are traffic free, the cities are pollution free.

There can be no return to normal as normal was not normal.

We have been jolted into another now. We must maintain our city centres car and pollution free.

The first businesses to reopen coffee shops, tables outside, social distancing maintained,  dwell time relatively short.

To achieve this, coffee shops need to be able to spread out into the streets, out into the squares, the norm in Athens, indeed the norm across Europe, when one coffee shop in Lincoln requested this they received an emphatic no from Lincolnshire County Council, not even the courtesy of an explanation.

Unfortunately we will not agree to you increasing the number of tables and chairs you use or the size of the area that you have at the current time (your enclosure needs to still be only outside the frontage of your premises).

Kick starting the local economy, improving the ambience, worthless council jobsworths don’t give a damn.

Our High Streets were dying before the covid-19 pandemic. The loss of Big Business, corporate chains, from the High Street is no great loss, it was destroying the High Street. If we are to recover it will be through small local independent businesses.  That is why we must allow indie coffee shops, and only indie coffee shops not chains, next restaurants, to expand into the streets. Not pubs and bars as we do not want drunks on the streets.

Local businesses spreading into public space helps everyone, safeguarding staff and clientele through social distancing, improves the ambience of the locality, especially if No Smoking, and for many local businesses it will mean life or death, the difference whether they survive or not.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has recognised people are going to be reluctant to use public transport  therefore we have to encourage walking and cycling if we do not wish traffic levels to rise. But if wishes to improve cycling and walking, must also make our city centres more attractive by encouraging local councils to facilitate indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread out into our streets.

Deliveries to the pedestrianised areas,  park on the periphery and deliver by handcart or trolley.

Sheffield, an unusual city in that prior to the covid-19 pandemic a city on the up, a marked contrast to most decaying cities. And why? Independent businesses everywhere.

BBC Radio 4 The Food Programme recently featured Sheffield, the focus on how indie food businesses were bringing life back to Sheffield. With the exception of Marmadukes I would not agree with their choice of examples, but the gist yes. I could list several examples, South Street Kitchen, Marmadukes, Steam YardSheffield Cheese Masters, Bullion bean to bar craft chocolate, ShuJu Taiwanese pop-up kitchen at Union St.

Mention also needs to be made of Now Then, an indie magazine that features local culture and indie businesses, interesting articles and art, well worth seeking out.

Through reclaiming the streets, we are operating at the interface between business, environment and society, a component part of Doughnut Economics, where the local economy is designed to be regenerative and distributive, with people and the environment at its heart.  We kick cars out of our town centres, we plant trees, we improve the ambience, we create a space where local businesses and communities can thrive, breathe clean air, or simply relax with a  good coffee, read a book, sit and watch the world go by.

One of my favourite places to sit and relax, Little Tree, a bohemian bookshop cum coffee shop, not far from The Acropolis.

In Exarchia, an anarchist district of Athens, they set up road blocks, boxes with plants,  created traffic free zones. The city authorities also act, they are extending the pedestrianised areas around The Acropolis.

The Strait and Steep Hill no tourists tea and coffee shops open

January 8, 2019

It beggars belief, over the Christmas New Year vacation many tourists milling around, up The Strait and Steep Hill, in Castle Hill and Bailgate, tea and coffee shops were either closed or closed early.

Now the holiday season over, no one around, the streets deserted, the tea and coffee shops open.

This would be like a business in the tourist area of Cyprus closing during the peak summer season then opening in the winter when no one about.

To say the least, bizarre.

Although not all were open, and a few closed early.

The Rest rarely found open. Today no exception. Rumoured to be for sale

Bunty’s tea room, closed or closed early when tourists around, now no tourists tea room open.

Bookstop Cafe, closed or closed early when tourists around, now no tourists open.

Imperial Teas, a rarity, open over Christmas New Year.

Pimento tea rooms, once excellent, new owners took over and destroyed with six months.

Changed hands yet again. Closed over Christmas New Year, does not reopen until no tourists outside.

Since my last visit, interior has changed and not for the better.

A board outside promises specialty tea and coffee, new menu.

No menu, no espresso machine.

It takes more than a sign to serve specialty tea and coffee.

I said I may pop back later. When I did, a little after three, I found to be closed.

When queried, told closed early today. When asked when usually close, told between three and four.


%d bloggers like this: