Posts Tagged ‘coffee shops’

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.

111 Coffee Shops In London That You Must Not Miss

December 3, 2018

Why 111 coffee shops, why not 100, why not 120?

That is what I hate about these series of books, an artificial list, someone hired to fill the list, rather than someone writes and publishes a guide to London coffee shops.

Having said that, 111 Coffee Shops In London That You Must Not Miss exceeds expectations, excellent guide to coffee shops in London.

Each coffee shop occupies two pages, a page of text, a picture.  What to expect, the coffee, roaster used.

At the back, a couple of pages of maps. The largest concentration of coffee shops Soho, north of Oxford Street second. Strange therefore Bar Italia, located in Soho, one of the oldest, if not the oldest coffee shop in London, a Soho icon, Soho as once was, does not merit a mention.  Nor Monmouth Coffee in nearby Covent Garden, one of the first artisan coffee shops in London, well before they became trendy places to be.

A couple of coffee shops I am familiar with, if not visited. Pufrock I am told I should visit, but have not, Taylor Street Baristas I have not visited in London, I have the one in Brighton, which sadly closed a couple of years ago, the excellent Curio Cabal the only coffee shop listed that I have visited.

I would have liked to see as with The North and North Wales Independent Coffee Guide, telephone number, web address, twitter and facebook.

I like the hot tips. A place of interest nearby worth a visit.

How to get there, nearest station.

Coffee roasteries are not included, and no guide is complete without. All the more surprising when often mentioned in the description of the coffee shops.

Noticeable by their absence, Bar Italia, Ethiopian Coffee Roasters on the South Bank street food market, little coffee kiosk at foot of Hungerford Bridge on London South Bank, Monmouth Coffee.

At the back, a useful glossary of coffee terms. One term that was new to me, espresso flight, a single-shot espresso,  a single shot cappuccino, served side by side. Only one coffee shop have I been served this though not given a name and not side by side, in a line, was Coffee Aroma, an espresso, a cappuccino and a glass of water, served in a line on a hollowed out wooden board.

A QR code to pull up an interactive map. At least I assume it was, but is not. At least can see where the coffee shops are. It would though have been better if each pin had pulled up information on Google Maps. There is a menu, which takes through to a list of all 111 coffee shops. Click on any entry, and that does take through to Google Maps. A somewhat indirect route.

The problem with any guide, even on-line, is dated as soon as writ, if not before.

Taylor St Baristas no longer use Union-Hand Roasted, they roast their own beans at Taylor St Roasted and their excellent Brighton coffee shop has closed.

An indication of how things date, as I wrote this review, I learnt Taylor St Baristas were returning to Brighton. I miss the one that closed, I will look forward to their new coffee shop.  Or at least that was what I initially thought. Actually they will be supplying the coffee. Maybe one day.

111 Coffee Shops In London That You Must Not Miss puts to shame the utterly useless Where to Drink Coffee.

An excellent well researched guide, a must if visiting London and appreciate good coffee.

I prefer to wander and discover, if not, reservations aside 111 Coffee Shops In London That You Must Not Miss is an excellent guide to coffee shops in London.

Although I prefer to wander and take me where my feet take me, I have to admit, several of the coffee shops intrigue me and I am tempted to visit next time I am in London.

Also check out London Coffee, an account of London coffee culture rather than a guide to coffee shops.

Book in hand, I did attempt to visit one cold misty day in London at least a couple of the listed coffee shops. I managed all of one, Algerian Coffee Stores, and that only because my lovely Russian friend Tatyana told me it was a must to visit if I ever found myself in London.

I was not that I did not visit any other coffee shops, it is that I tend to go where my feet take me.

I found Four Corners a kiosk outside Waterloo Station. They told me they have a coffee shop in Lower Marsh. Beany a kiosk at the foot of Hungerford Bridge, excellent coffee but no time to stop. Grind in Covent Garden I looked in did not like and walked out. The Espresso Room, a tiny coffee shop in Covent Garden serving excellent coffee. I looked in Bar Italia in Soho, excellent coffee, but no time to stop. Jacob the Angel an English Coffee House, a new coffee shop in Neal’s Yard, serving Square Mile which is a good sign, but about to close. Monmouth Coffee in Covent Garden I stopped for a cappuccino.

Failing tea and coffee shops in Lincoln

November 27, 2018

What could be a microcosm of anywhere, a tale of failing, closed and for sale tea and coffee shops in Lincoln.

Tickleberry Lane Bakery & Tea House opened over 18 months ago. It was doomed to failure as did everything possible that could be done wrong.

Poor quality tea and coffee. When prominently display serving teapigs, may as well run up a flag stating we know nothing about tea. The coffee over-roasted catering supply commodity coffee. On the other side of the street Coffee Aroma serving high quality tea and coffee.

The serving of lunch was upstairs via narrow steep stairs, but no menu on display outside the shop. No one is going to walk up steep narrow stairs with no idea what is on offer when they arrive.

Rather late in the day, a few months before they closed, they placed a couple of tables and chairs in the window. Too little, too late.

The writing was on the wall, firstly claimed closed as not busy, then claimed illness, finally a To Let sign. Other businesses that were ordering bread and cakes complained of unreliable delivery. The staff walked out complaining they had not been paid.

Two weeks or more after the To Let sign went up the useless local press reported it had closed, it had actually closed many months before, and regurgitated as news what had been written on facebook.

The Angel Coffee House is up for sale. A couple of years ago, it would have put some squats to shame. A major refit and yes has improved, but not the coffee.

The owner will give advice, if sold, but hopefully not on coffee. And has ideas on expansion. Which begs the question, why, if these are such good ideas, why were they not implemented?

Increasing takeaway, especially if using Deliveroo, is a retrograde step, not unless do not care about the environment, or exploitation of serfs working for an app.

We must reduce the grab it and go takeaway culture part of pointless consumerism, encourage relax with specialty coffee served in glass or ceramic.

Pimento Tea Rooms half way up Steep Hill has closed. Once excellent for tea and cakes, new owners took over and destroyed the business.

Steep Hill Tea Rooms, a tea shop at the top of Steep Hill one of many tea shops on Steep Hill has closed. When I passed by in September, the premises gutted, the name still on the window.

New tea shops have opened on The Strait and in Bailgate. All chasing the same tourist pound. When there is money to be made, for example AsylumX the recent steampunk festival, they still close early.

Coffee by the Arch is for sale. Catering supply coffee, service poor, tea supplied by tea pigs. Again one of many tea and coffee shops in Bailgate, Steep Hill and The Strait chasing the same tourist pound.

Coffee by the Arch was for sale, but the sale fell through early November when the buyer pulled out at the eleventh hour. Not clear if it is still on the market. At the time of writing it is still listed as cafe lease for sale. Owner has complained on their facebook page of inaccurate reporting by the media.

It is not helped by a tea shop of very similar name in Bailgate. Someone failed to do their homework.

For any new business the odds are stacked against success. 80% of new businesses fail within the first 18 months. And even if make it past 18 months it is not plain sailing, the chance of becoming a sustainable business is only 1 in 20.

Where once, maybe up to five years ago, could open a tea or coffee shop serving low quality tea in tea bags, catering supply coffee, not employ skilled baristas, not be prepared to invest in the required equipment, not any more. To do so is to be on a hiding to nothing.

For low quality tea and coffee, we have the corporate chains, why therefore open up in direct competition? This is like the fools and their money easily parted who take on the tenancy of a tied pub, the pubcos see you coming, another mug to relieve of their redundancy money or life savings.

Lincoln has three quality coffee shops, Coffee Aroma, Madame Waffle and Base Camp. Any one of these failing, failed or for sale businesses has the potential to be a quality coffee shop, serving specialty coffee in glass or ceramic. They will not be in competition, specialty coffee shops never are, they help to expand the market by introducing coffee drinkers to how coffee should be served, what it should look like, taste like.

There is never any point in entering a crowded market. Create the market, be the big fish in the pond because you have created the pond, then expand the pond.

In addition the focus has to be on quality, being the best. To try to compete on price, to lower quality, is to engage in a race to the bottom, as there will always be someone who can undercut you.

In Winchester, two years ago, Coffee Lab opened, spread by word of mouth, followed by Coffee Lab Academy, followed by The Square. In the meantime Flat White kiosk, followed by Flat White coffee shop. They are not in competition, they have grown the market for specialty coffee.

In Guildford, Krema serving specialty coffee, busy since it opened. Coffee shops serving poor quality coffee, pretentious coffee shops where the owner talks bollocks on focus groups, brands and marketing, are either empty or closed.

It is like a tied pub serving what masquerades as beer from a corporate chemical plant, competing in a shrinking market where pubs are closing every week. Open a coffee ship serving undrinkable catering supply coffee, in competition with the corporate coffee chains in a stagnant if not shrinking market.

The irony, far more likely to find quality craft beer, even decent wine, in a coffee shop than a pub, and far more convivial company. Little Tree, half a dozen craft beers from different Greek Islands. The Underdog, over twenty different craft beers. Warehouse, over 200 different wines.

And yet no one learns.

Ye Olde Mouse House, proclaimed to be a cheese cum coffee shop, a weird combination, has opened in the former Steep Hill Tea Rooms at the top of Steep Hill.

The name says it all. Maybe a better name, Ye Olde Tourist Trap.

They talk of cheese as a brand. Cheese is not a brand not unless talking of plastic wrapped Kraft plastic cheese.

And yes, their adulterated cheese is sold prepackaged in plastic, other cheese coated in wax.

In an Appendix to Reinventing the Wheel excellent advice by Bronwen Percival on buying cheese:

Buy unadulterated cheese … if a cheesemaker hides behind added ingredients, whether smoke, added fruits or spices … it is either a tragedy … or a sign their milk was devoid of character in the first place … Buy raw-milk cheese … Buy complex cheese … Buy from a cheesemonger … good cheesemongers are curators of good cheese.

Adulterating cheese is akin to adding syrups to coffee. Don’t. It either ruins a good coffee or is used to hide bad coffee.

And their use of social media to say the least perverse. A badly filmed video of their coffee shop located in a cellar. A picture of a dog tied up outside in the cold and wet(since deleted). Questions posted on their cheese and coffee, not only lack the courtesy to answer, the questions are deleted.

Footfall on Steep Hill has in recent years dramatically fallen. The only way to attract business, to offer quality, word of mouth.

For quality cheese in Lincoln, The Cheese Society, top of the High Street, bottom of The Strait. Or if in Bailgate next to the Post Office try Redhill Farm Shop which has a small selection of quality local cheeses. There is also local cheese on the monthly farmers market in Castle Square.

Workhouse Coffee Oxford Road

November 13, 2018

Workhouse Coffee has two coffee shops in Reading. I have never been impressed by Workhouse Coffee in the town centre, it is very overrated, the beans in open boxes, the coffee of poor quality.

I decided therefore to check out their other coffee shop on Oxford Road, which closes at 1-30.

Google maps tells me twenty two minutes walk from Reading Station. Maybe true if power walk. Thirty minutes walk.

Not difficult to find, head from Reading Station into Broad Street, walk to the end, then along Oxford Road.

A rough area of town, but then that is true of most of Reading.

The coffee shop grim. I have encountered better greasy spoon cafes. Art on the walls would be an improvement, especially if strip out the tacky plastic world map on the rear wall.

I ordered a cappuccino. Only one other customer.

If I was hoping for something better than the coffee shop in town, I was to be disappointed. It was not good, more or less undrinkable.

I ask of V60. The girl calls it paper filter coffee. I explain to her, V60 or pour over.

Swan neck kettle. No, she pours out of a normal kettle. Weigh water and coffee, time? No.

I learn why the coffee shop closes at 1-30. She opens at 7-30 and six hours is the maximum she is prepared to work. She runs it all on her own. It closes at 2-30 on a Saturday, she opens one hour later.

Most of the custom is takeaway, Reading West Station is a few minutes walk down the road. There are no chains nearby.

I am there as the coffee shop is closed. Does she clean the machine? No, only once a week. Same as town she tells me. Beans emptied out of the hopper? No. We do things different she tells me.

Takeaway coffee cups compostable. No. Why should we care about the environment, compostable cups cost more, she tells me.

At least she is honest.

I learn she is an artist.

I suggest she puts her art on the walls. Not her coffee shop. But at least she will think about it. It would at least be an improvement.

Four coffee trends that are not

September 8, 2018

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

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

Article talks of operators. WTF are operators?

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

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

iced coffee

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

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

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

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

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

fake milk

If wish to ruin a cappuccino use fake milk.

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

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

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

serving coffee

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

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

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

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

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

the coffee consumer

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

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

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

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

reality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Standart guide to Athens coffee culture a travesty

August 20, 2018

Standart is not easy to find, and even those who stock it have difficulty in obtaining.

I was therefore pleased to find the latest edition in Pelicano on a recent trip to Brighton. They have only recently started to stock. They also stock Drift.

I started with the review of coffee culture in Athens. I was going to offer to write this, and regret I did not, as the reveiew of Athens coffee culture is a travesty, and does a disservice to Athens. But then what to expect from two days in Athens? It is as much what is missing as what is written.

I often spend a few days in Athens,  last year exploring the coffee culture.

As I was reading, I had just heard at lunchtime stomach churning claim by EU describing their intervention in Greece as a success a cause for Greeks to celebrate. Nothing could be further from the truth, Greece was destroyed to serve as  a warning to other vassal states, the money pumped into Greece, was to bail out German banks, it flowed in and back out.

Taf is not for coffee tasting, it is a coffee shop people enjoying the coffee. There is not an extensive choice of coffee, though yes a fair choice.

Mr Bean, I was recommended by Taf, it is across the road.

Other than in passing, Tailor Made not featured. Excellent coffee, good place for people watching, amazing cold brew tower.

The Underdog when I visited last year, four world champion baristas, and I am pleased to learn have won again. I though saw more awards on display at TAF.

Kaya I was not impressed by, the coffee undrinkable. Passing trade, not people relaxing to enjoy a  coffee.

Even less by Warehouse where coffee not good and service terrible. Not a good place for sitting outside, not unless enjoy breathing in traffic fumes. More a trendy bar serving coffee than a coffee shop. I did not try the wine.

No mention of Just Made 33, excellent coffee, excellent food, excellent cakes. Conveniently located. just off Ermou, a  few minutes walk from Syntagma.

No mention of Little Tree Books and Coffee, a bookshop cum coffee shop, only a few minutes walk behind the Acropolis Museum.

No mention of Duo Goulies & Duo Mpoukies, excellent coffee and food.

Taresso is also worthy of a visit.

Cannot visit Athens  without visiting The Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, Agora, Temple of Zeus, National Gardens,  and of course wander through Plaka.

To eat, Plaka Restaurant in the heart of Plaka, and for a view to die for rooftop restaurant at Athens Gate.

Two ice cream parlours worth a visit, Davinci in Monastiraki and Coco’s in Plaka, of the two I refer  Coco’s.

No, it is not a hike to the Hill of the Muses, well worth the climb with stunning views over Athens.

A stroll past The Acropolis and along Dionysiou Areopagitou then a choice, Hill of the Muses, straight on, visit a church then a long valley which is pleasant to walk  along one side and return along the other side, or follow around The Acropolis and right along Apostolou Pavlou which at weekends lined with stalls and musicians. It also leads a back way into Agora of Athens.

More of course than a day, or even two days,

I look forward to Drift bringing out an Athens edition.

 

rCup

July 8, 2018

Waitrose had their own reusable cup on sale at £3, now the rCup at £12.

Claimed to be made from a dozen recycled coffee cups,  which makes the point, plastic is not recycled, it is down cycled.

Designed by Dan Dicker a former designer for Dyson. Maybe should stick to vacuum cleaners as not barista friendly, something fairly basic for a reusable coffee cup.

Will not be popular if walk into a coffee shop with rCup and many baristas will quite rightly refuse to serve.

It is opened by pressing the top, then press again to seal.

Why though would anyone wish to drink a coffee as though a baby or an invalid?

Yet another inferior KeepCup clone.

If wish for a reusable cup, buy a KeepCup from a coffee shop, where they will also give a discount if used.

Sale of rCup should be seen for what it is,  greenwash by Waitrose to distract from fresh produce in plastic.

Nor are reusable coffee cups the answer, they are addressing the symptom rather than the underlying problem of grab it and go takeaway throw away culture, pointless consumerism.

We have to introduce a latte levy, encourage relax in an indie coffee shop serving speciality coffee in glass or ceramic.


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