Posts Tagged ‘coffee shops’

Afternoon in Reading

November 20, 2017

What a difference a week makes. Last week in Reading freezing cold, today mild and damp with occasional light drizzle.

I had intended to look in Workhouse then pop back later. But decided to stay and have a cappuccino.

Ethiopian, better than I had off Tamp kiosk last week, weak and insipid, which I poured down the drain. Not though as good as from Ethiopian Coffee Roasters.

I was asked did I want sugar, but had to intervene to stop chocolate, I assume cocoa, from being dumped on top.

No information on the beans, but staff knowledgeable and will explain if asked.

It would though be useful to have information, for example as in Small Batch in Brighton.

I learnt why the silly names for several of the beans. These are blends and it is an attempt to give some idea of the flavour profile.

The system is very much as Monmouth in Covent Garden, choose the beans you want, these are then weighed and bagged. They will grind if asked.

Perceived wisdom is to leave beans for a week after roasting before used. Workhouse leave for two weeks.

I think, but not sure, I could have picked any of the beans for a V60, though it may have only been what was illustrated on a  sign.

The rear of Workhorse the walls used to exhibit art.

Workhouse is surrounded by dreadful places to drink coffee, opposite Costa and tax-dodging Starbucks, adjacent down the street Patisserie Valerie and Pret a Manger.

In the centre of Reading, indeed even before leaving Reading Station, I have never seen so many coffee shops, but unlike Brighton, where at least indie coffee shops, these are chains. Like a Medieval plague of rats, Reading is infested with tax-dodging Starbucks.

MangoBean closed. This does not surprise me. It is a franchise scam, relies on mugs who know nothing about coffee, as the old adage goes fools and their money are easily parted.

The only surprise is that MangoBean in Aldershot has not closed long ago.

Next door to MangoBean, Artigiano.

Artigiano a  trendy coffee ship, serving craft beer, multiple levels, very much in the style of The Underdog in Athens. A sign indicated they used Origin. Sadly though a chain, albeit a small chain.

I had wished to go back, but spent the rest of the afternoon until early evening at CUP speciality coffee and tea.

Lunch at Cup spinach and feta pie.

Artigiano and Workhorse almost empty, CUP packed. It quietened down a little mid-afternoon, then late afternoon, it fills up again.

Usually in a coffee shop, people drink coffee, in CUP, maybe half drinking tea.

A selection of 18 different teas, with an unusual method of brewing the tea.

The tea and water carefully measured and timed, boiling hot water poured onto the tea, then released through a gauze into a glass carafe with a cork in the top.

The brewing method I have seen only once before, in Just Made 33, the method of serving only seen in CUP.

The teas are for sale, they will weigh and bag.

I had wished to leave earlier than last week to miss the commuter rush hour, but left an hour later, just made it in time for a train, which I found was non-stop. The next train, ten minutes later, was ten minutes late.  Packed in like sardines.  Most of the train emptied at the first stop.

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Why do indie coffee shops close so early?

November 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why indeed? I have often wondered why?

Not only wondered, I have asked.

The answer goes something like this.

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

This answer defies logic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where to Drink Coffee

November 11, 2017

A guide to coffee shops of the world, somewhat ambitious and faintly ludicrous.

The description for each coffee shop is about the size of a large postage stamp, with text so small it needs a magnifying glass to read, and most of that is taken up with address and whether or not takes credit cards. Useful information is entirely missing, for example who roasts the coffee beans.

For UK, noticeable more for what is missing than what is included.

For Greece, all of two coffee shops, Tailor Made and The Underdog, and the entry on this page is shared with Serbia.  For Athens alone, I could add several other coffee shops worthy of note: Just Made 33, Taf, Mr BeanDuo Goulies & Duo Mpoukies aka Δυο γουλιές & δυο μπουκιέςTaressoLittle Tree Books and Coffee.

Who is going lug around this heavy book when it is devoid of information and maybe has all of two coffee shops for the country you are thinking of visiting?

Where to Drink Coffee is part of a series, Where Bartenders Drink and Where Chefs Eat, with the same format would be equally useless.

Where to Drink Coffee is is the one guide you do not need. It would be difficult to imagine a guide less useful.

It is always best to use your feet, wander around and find coffee shops yourself, you then have the pleasure of discovery. And once you find one good coffee shop, ask for recommendations of other places to try.

If you need a coffee shop guide for Northern England, which also covers roasteries, cannot go far wrong with The North and North Wales Independent Coffee Guide.

Standart has a guide in each issue to a town or city and coffee shops worth visiting.

Drift each issue is devoted to one city.

On-line The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop occasionally features coffee shops and coffee culture in towns and cities.

Cappuccino at Just Made 33

October 28, 2017

Morning pleasant and sunny and warm.  Afternoon cool and cloudy. Evening rain and cold.

I made Just Made 33 as it started to rain. The temperature dropped. Even inside it turned cold.

For me a cappuccino and chocolate bar.

Cappuccino excellent.

I watched an Ibrik being brewed, Greek coffee.

I am used to a small copper pot. This a different shape.

And a different method.

Brought to the boil, rises to the top, then removed from the flame, but nor reatedly brought to the boil.

The coffee ground very fine, almost like powder.

Then green tea being made in a vessel I have only seen in Athens.

The tea allowed to brew, then dropped into a carafe below.

I knew Just Made 33 made excellent sandwiches and cakes, but not hot dishes, but then I have never looked at the menu, nor am I there lunchtime or in the evening.

Interesting conversation with barista and waitress, both knowledgeable on coffee.

Duo Goulies & Duo Mpoukies

October 27, 2017

With difficulty, a few days ago, I managed to find Duo Goulies & Duo Mpoukies, only it was closed.

After a cappuccino at Taresso I decided to once again try and find, even though I was going to arrive close to closing time.

I managed to find, close to closing time.

They invited me in, said we are now closed, but it is ok, we close the door and pull down the shutters, but please order a drink as we are closing the machine.

Excellent food made by Nicos, excellent cappuccino from Greek latte art champion Tania whose awards line the shelves.

Although I regret to say I did not order excellent cheesecake, it looked good and tasted good.

Open and airy, very pleasant ambiance.

Coffee mags and other reading material to browse, often featuring Greek coffee shops and baristas, on one the front page World Barista champion Stefanos Domatiotis who I met at Taf, but not Standart which I recommended subscribe to.

Taf supply the coffee.

Once the coffee shop closed, we sat and chatted.

From outside, once closed, would never know it was there, which is why I had problems finding the first time, and even the second time.

A very discrete sign, nothing more.

When the shutters down, would not know it was there, and as I found, almost impossible to find.

And if look it up, find the Greek name Δυο γουλιές & δυο μπουκιές which means two sips and two bites, not as I had surmised the names of the owners.

Coffee House at 62 Haydon Place

July 14, 2017

I had popped in Food for Thought, where I was recommended a new coffee shop further down the street. After a wasted journey to Oxfam Bookshop to see if they had any coffee books, they had not, I decided to check it out.

From North Street head off down the street passed Food for Thought, keep on going, past Waitrose, and there on the corner, opposite Waitrose car park, 62 Haydon Place.

Nicely laid out.  Outside seating.

Coffee is Square Mile. Also guest coffee.  During my visit two guest coffees from Glen Lyon Coffee Roasters, a blend and an Ethiopian coffee.

They tell me they wish to have guest coffees.

I suggest try Karuna Coffee.  Also Ethiopian Coffee Roasters.

I mention Caravan, which I had found in The Deli at 80 last week in Finsbury Park. I am told a very good coffee, which confirms my thoughts. If a competent barista, then would be very good.

I am offered the guest coffee., the Ethiopian single origin.  I find a little over roasted, and at the same time, a little weak. Maybe it was only one shot.  I would have preferred the Square Mile.  Ethiopian coffee from Ethiopian Coffee Roasters is better.

Whilst there, I notice a constant flow of people, more than I ever see at Surrey Hills Coffee, which when I pass by is always empty. 62 Haydon Place is out of the way, apart from opposite Waitrose, therefore must be spreading by word-of-mouth, which is how I learnt, as I would never have known of otherwise, which is good news.

They close at five. I suggested six, maybe even seven, for the summer.

The big problem with Guildford, the little coffee shops close at five which is far too early. They stand at the door turning customers away, which is bizarre.  Why does anyone turn away business? But I accept, long hours if open at eight in the morning to catch the morning trade. Winter is different close at five.

There are too many coffee shops opening that know nothing about coffee. Esquires Coffee is a good example. If wish for rubbish undrinkable coffee, we have Costa, Caffe Nero and tax-dodging Starbucks. It is therefore always good to find a coffee shop opening where they are passionate about coffee.

Definitely a coffee shop to visit in Guildford.

Now have four places for coffee, FCB coffee kiosk on Guildford Station, Harris + Hoole in North Street and Dylan’s ice cream at The Village.

I am calling 62 Haydon Place. I had to go back and ask, what is this coffee shop called? It is actually called Canopy, but I think 62 Haydon Place is a far better name, and as it is writ above the shop in gold lettering, I think that is what they should call it.

If 62 Haydon Place are regularly changing the guest coffee, meanwhile Food For Thought who recommended the coffee shop are looking for recommendations of quality coffee to stock, why not an informal arrangement whereby Food For Thought stock the guest coffee, direct to the Coffee House to taste, and vice a versa the Coffee House direct to Food for Thought to buy the beans.

Cappuccino in The Angel Coffee House

January 12, 2017
The Angel Coffee House

The Angel Coffee House

I wanted to have a cappuccino in Stokes on High Bridge or Coffee Aroma, but no, I would keep to my resolve, try a few of the indie coffee shops in Lincoln, even if it meant missing out on an excellent cappuccino and being forced to try something dire. But you never know, I may be in for a pleasant surprise.

Today was the turn of The Angel Coffee House in the centre of town.

From the outside it looks like a Victorian chapel, replete with gargoyles.

Actually it is the old church hall of St Swithin’s opposite. The grassy park with headstones acting as paving slabs the former graveyard.

I had looked in a few years ago, but never stopped for a coffee.

The promise of the exterior, is not met by the interior. Very shabby, the same photos on the walls. The chairs were a disgrace, shabby, threadbare and filthy. The cushions even worse.

Occasional events. One, I may have got the name wrong, 15 minute fiction, where aspiring writers could share ideas. But why charge an entrance fee?

Bookstop Cafe, would be an excellent location for these events, an undercroft of a Norman House, as they already support local writers.

It was very noisy.  Not a pleasant environment within which to relax and enjoy a coffee.

I ordered a cappuccino.

When a cappuccino looks disgusting, first impressions are usually not misleading. It was awful. If I wanted disgusting coffee, there is always Costa and tax-dodging Starbucks. I took a couple of sips and left it.

And no, you do not sprinkle chocolate on a cappuccino. Or at the very least, ask. And you do not use chocolate, you use cocoa. The only reason chocolate is added is to hide disgusting coffee.

The cup was too large. Not a soup bowl as Costa, but still too large for a cappuccino.

I asked from where they sourced their beans.

The Forge in Sheffield, or was it The Foundry in Sheffield.

Roast date of the beans they were using 9 December 2016. Borderline to say the least.

No quality indie coffee shop would use beans this long past the roast date, at least not if concerned about their reputation. Check with Stokes, Coffee Aroma or Makushi Coffee House, and you will find they would not dream of using beans this old.

The lady serving was quite pleasant.  Service was slow, though to be fair she was on her own and it was busy.

Coffee shops are not in competition, far from it, good coffee shops help each other. But these days if you open or run a coffee shop, you have to know about coffee, you have to be able to serve quality coffee, the only competition, is a pride in serving the the best.  I am used to baristas, where they serve me a coffee, and say no, not good enough, and pour it away. Or they bring me a second coffee. Why, I ask? What you have is not good enough.

Usually, if things are wrong, I will say. I may have mentioned the roast date, or at least hinted roast date too long ago, but so many things wrong and I was already running late.

That I left the coffee, should have said how awful it was, and one look at it, it should never have been served.

The Angel Coffee House is not any time soon if ever going to make it into Northern England Independent Coffee Guide.

Once again TripAdvisor shown as seriously flawed. The Angel Coffee House listed as No 2 for tea and coffee in Lincoln. I cannot comment on the tea, but coffee awful and undrinkable, with not a clue about coffee. On the other hand Pimento Tearooms No 4, Coffee Aroma No 5, Stokes High Bridge Cafe No 7,  Henry’s Tea Room No 8, Makushi Coffee Roasters & Coffee Shop No 12.

No way is The Angel Coffee House No 2, or better than those I have listed. I cannot comment on others on TripAdvisor, but unless dire, I would expect The Angel Coffee House to be somewhere near the bottom, with Coffee Aroma No 1, Stokes High Bridge Cafe No 2, or joint No 1, Makushi Coffee Roasters & Coffee Shop  No3,  Pimento Tearooms No 4, Henry’s Tea Room No 5.

It is laughable The Angel Coffee House is No 2 on TripAdvisor. It does little for their credibility, especially when they delete critical reviews and fail to deal with fake reviews.

Use the Northern England Independent Coffee Guide to decided where ‘s best, that is if you need a guide. On sale in Coffee Aroma. In Lincoln is featured Coffee Aroma, Stokes on High Bridge, Stokes at The Collection, Stokes Coffee Roasters and a mention of Stokes at The Lawn.

Stokes,  Coffee Aroma and Makushi are in a different league. If they are Premier League, Angel barely makes it into Division Four. Pimento and Henry’s are tea shops. Both have a lovely ambience, especially Pimento. Excellent tea in Pimento. Coffee not good in Henry’s, but potential to be much better as the girl who was waiting on the tables knew a lot about coffee and was keen to learn more, and it is a tea room not a coffee shop, I have not tried the tea.

I looked in W, new coffee shop in Waterstone’s. Not an indy coffee shop, they have one in Brighton, but great news to have kicked out Costa. Ambience pleasant. I will have to try their coffee. But no roast date, best by is meaningless. Beans roasted by Matthew Algie, a special blend for Waterstone’s.

Coffee in Protaras

May 27, 2014

Three years ago, there were no coffee shops in Protaras.

Last year it was strongly recommended that indie coffee shops opened, if not, the likes of Costa and Starbucks would muscle their way in. And sadly there is already a Costa.

The advice has been heeded, several coffee shops are opening, but not indie coffee shops, Cypriot attempts to form local chains (a big mistake).

Cypriots are opening coffee shops knowing little if anything about coffee.

patisserie amelie

patisserie amelie

patisserie amelie

This lovely little coffee shop opened two seasons ago, cakes, ice cream, waffles.

The season it opened, they had an excellent Greek barista called George. Why was he not retained? Pleasant enough staff now, but not in the same class as George.

The coffee is LavAzza. Ok as a brand coffee, but not really good enough. It is now time to up the game, and use local hand roasted coffee beans.

The Coffee Club

The Coffee Club

The Coffee Club

New this season and only opened last week.

Coffee and fast food, coffee served in plastic! You got to be joking!

The fast food needs to be ditched, glass and decent cups.

The coffee is imported specialist coffee.

A Hungarian who knows about coffee is doing his best.

Sex & Beans

A rather brash, too brash, mix of coffee and cocktails. Do the two go together? Not really.

Cold brewed coffee.

Open maybe this week, maybe next week. The date keeps being pushed back.

Coffee Island

Ludicrous, raised platforms.

Little is known, maybe opens next week.

Costa

Overpriced, poor quality coffee, factory cakes, lacks ambience, screams corporate.

Popular with local Cypriots who have no taste, equally popular with English who also are lacking in taste.

Sirena Bay

Sirena Bay

Sirena Bay

Not actually in Protaras, not even in Pernera.

Disgusting nescafe, it could not get worse.

But, and a big but, if they get a decent espresso machine, quality coffee beans, a competent barista, then worth a visit for the location.

Hop on the Protaras-Paralimni bus, pass through Pernera, and hop off at Crystal Springs. Head down the road alongside Crystal Springs to the sea, walk along the coast towards Pernera. This is by far the best way to approach. Pick up the bus on the main road.

Epodi

A lovely taverna overlooking the main square in Paralimni.

They know how to make freddo cappuccino.

Need better glasses, slightly tapered.

Coffee is LavAzza. Ok as a brand coffee. Hand roasted coffee from local roaster would be even better.

Not Protaras. Hop on the Protaras-Paralimni bus to Paralimni. Alight in Paralimini. Epodi is across the square.

Lunch at Oliver’s coffee shop

February 4, 2013
Olibers coffee shop

Olibers coffee shop

Olibers coffee shop

Olibers coffee shop

gammon steak

gammon steak

Usually when I walk past Olibers coffee shop it is empty. Today not so, it was busy.

I was on my way to lunch at the County Restaurant. I had excellent pea and mint soup, but did not fancy anything else on the menu. I decided to go to Stokes at The Collection.

Passing by Oliver’s on the way, I looked at the boards outside. No, change of mind, I would try their gammon streak. I like a good gammon steak.

It was a wise choice, the gammon steak with a slice of pineapple on top was served with a little salad, peas and chips. The gammon was excellent, but at 8oz, too much, I would happily have shared.

I commented on the boards outside, which I thought was a good idea as it would bring people in and that it was usually empty. The woman said it was her idea, and yes it did make a difference, as often sat there all day and no one came in.

I asked where was the attractive blonde? She was helping out, and now back at university.

From the front to the back maybe two or three well worn stone steps. That of stone, and well worn, gives some idea of the age of the building.

There are not many good places to eat. Plenty of good indie coffee bars and tea shops, home made soups, cakes, but not a meal. Olibers seems to be the exception. Far better than the Dambusters Inn at Scampton or the Butcher and Beast at Heighington. And at £6-50, reasonably priced.

They serve tea, coffee and cakes in Oliver’s, but make the mistake of not having the cakes on display. Nothing is more tempting than seeing a delicious looking cake on display.

On leaving, continue on up The Strait and Steep Hill, as I wished to try Pimento Tea Rooms and look in Imperial Teas of Lincoln, but very very slowly as a steep climb, as I was feeling very full.

Top Story in The Waverley Daily (Tuesday 5 February 2013).

Café 44

December 27, 2012
Café 44

Café 44

Tea and bacon sandwich in Café 44. Lovely indie coffee bar with art by Phil Martin lining the walls.

Last week I popped my head into Café 44. It was packed.

I thought the same today. I was the only one there.

I ordered tea and a bacon sandwich. The bacon sandwich was a mistake. Not that there was anything wrong with it, just too much to eat for mid-morning, a scone or a biscuit would have sufficed.

Downstairs the walls were lined with paintings of Lincoln by Phil Martin. Upstairs, via some very narrow and steep stairs reflecting the age of the building, more art. By the entrance, a collection of photos of Lincoln.

Café 44 is worth a visit for the art alone, though polite to have at least a cup of coffee or tea.

Something I have noticed with indie coffee bars, something you will never find in Costa or tax dodging Starbucks, is a love of what they are doing. This was apparent at Café 44 as soon as I walked in the door.

I had chat with who I assumed was the owner and the staff. All were very pleasant and cheerful. What I noticed was they seemed to know their customers not only to greet by name but also by what they would require.

The coffee is Stokes, quality coffee, fair trade. Served in glass, not a mug or a soup bowl.

The cakes are sourced locally, from a coffee shop in Burton Road.

One thing Lincoln has, a lot of indie coffee shops and few chains like Costa or tax dodging Starbucks.

Why go in Starbucks or Costa for rubbish coffee and factory cakes and sit a a cloned corporate coffee shop, when you can be surrounded by real art, sip real coffee and eat home made cakes?

Café 44 is located in Sincil Street more or less opposite the main entrance to the Central Market.

It is tragic that Sincil Street is earmarked for demolition. It is all what remains of the heritage around the Central Market, and even it has been ruined and the market a shadow of its former self. It is heritage that provides opportunities for indie coffee shops like Café 44 and lends character to an area.

Where there is development, there is a lot of money sloshing around. Plus a council lacking in vision and failing to look after the best interests of a thriving local economy.

Contrast threatened destruction of Sincil Street with North Laine in Brighton. A thriving, vibrant local economy full of indie coffee shops like Café 44, a diverse range of small independent retailers, an area of character worth a visit.