Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Leadenham Teahouse

February 13, 2019

On the way to Grantham stopped off at Leadenham to visit award-winning Leadenham Teahouse.

What does award-winning actually mean? Not a lot as these days virtually anyone is up for an award and when given by Good Taste Lincolnshire or Good Taste Awards meaningless.

Last year Good Taste Lincolnshire awarded Coffee Bobbins the best tea and coffee shop in Lincolnshire which serving poor quality tea and coffee made the award a laughing stock, as not even the best in Lincoln.

This time around the turn of Leadenham Teahouse for this worthless accolade.

Leadenham is a village on the way Lincoln to Grantham, I say village, actually Leadenham Teahouse on the cross roads, though there is a village church and it does host to my surprise a polo club.

Leadenham Teahouse is a tea shop serving tea and snacks and cake and coffee, a Post Office, well actually a Post Office counter and a little shop selling tourist tat.

As tea shops goes quite pleasant though nothing special.

Custom was myself and a coupe of ladies. No one came in to use the service of the Post Office.

I had avocado on sourdough toast with a sprinkling of cottage cheese, and a little salad.

OK, but poor quality sourdough to what I have had elsewhere and poor offering compared with excellent avocado on sourdough toast at The Cheese Society in Lincoln, which also came with melted halloumi cheese.

In the centre a wood-burning stove emitting more pollution than a diesel lorry, but maybe ok in the middle of nowhere.

The tourist tat, but no tourists, and I could not see why there would be especially as the tea shop not open on a Sunday and closes half day on a Saturday.

Outside bench seats by traffic lights on a major road.

I had a cappuccino. It was not good, poor quality catering supply coffee and clueless on how to make coffee. Though in a all fairness a tea shop not a coffee shop and there was a wide choice of tea.

A few cakes from local bakery, but did not look at all appealing.

I was surprised no fresh bread on sale.

I was told try the farm shop down the road.

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Quad Restaurant reusable coffee cup

January 8, 2019

Quad Restaurant demonstrating how not to.

Not barista friendly ugly plastic reusable coffee cups, one of the worst examples of reusable coffee cups I have come across.

No surprise,  low take up.

The Quad is the privately run renamed former County Restaurant, the staff restaurant of Lincolnshire County Council.

Early last year, it was the norm to see staff sitting at table drinking tea or coffee out of a takeaway cup when ceramic cups available.

This has at least improved, more are using ceramic or compostable cups. But where are the compostable cups deposited? This will be general waste stream unless special bins provided.  A tiny step in the right direction but still a  fair way to go.

Plastic cups are still being used for water. These should be glass.

Plastic is being used for their own yogurts. And why low fat yogurt with additives which is very unhealthy?

Only one person observed using a Quad Restaurant reusable cup everyone else using ceramic or Vegware compostable cups.

The reusable cups need to be removed, or if compostable cups for people to take back to their office, bins for compostable cups.

Lincolnshire County Council should be setting standards, not lagging behind best practice of indie coffee shops.

The County Council needs to do a deal with KeepCup, ecoffee or POLŪ to bulk buy branded cups, which are sold at cost to staff, given away at conferences, to get the message out.

There should be a latte levy of 25p on takeaway cups. The money goes into a  separate pot, once a month, staff choose, funds raised go to a local environmental group.

Should aim at 80% minimum of replacement of takeaway cups with reusable cups.

But also recognise compostable cups, reusable cups, are addressing symptoms of a grab it and go takeaway culture. Should encourage relax with coffee served in ceramic.

The Quad should have a target date for plastic free, zero waste.

The Old Mouse House Cheese Shop & Coffee Bar

December 31, 2018

The Old Mouse House Cheese Shop & Coffee Bar is a weird set up, cheese and coffee.

If walk in, not obvious a coffee shop, as through the back, though a glimpse of their espresso machine from the cheese shop provides a hint of more beyond.

It took several visits over Christmas and New Year to find the coffee shop open, cheese shop not always open or closed early.

According to their own facebook page, coffee shop in the cellar they say downstairs, it is not it is a tiny room out the back, climb two steps. Cosy would be the word.

Also a little room upstairs reached by narrow steep stairs. No handrail.

It is also necessary to climb the steep narrow stairs to reach the toilets. Not accessible to those with physical disabilities or the frail and elderly.

The coffee Stokes, the tea tea pigs.

A bakery cum tea shop opposite Coffee Aroma in the town centre, Stokes coffee, tea pigs tea, lasted all of nine months. Clearly no lessons learnt.

It could though be worse, tea and coffee supplied by Lincoln Tea and Coffee.

A row of syrups on a back shelf. A sure sign of bad coffee.

One cappuccino ordered. Cup size too large the larger size.

Having explored upstairs, I found my cappuccino awaiting me on a table when I returned downstairs.

WTF, this a CAPPUCCINO. Dribbling down the side, spilt in the saucer.

What I assumed to be a chocolate melting in the saucer.

The coffee looked disgusting, chocolate sprinkled on top.

Not only looked disgusting, tasted disgusting, served scalding hot, undrinkable.

I took one sip and left untouched.

I asked of the cheese counter the cheese.

Dunno, replied the girl behind the cheese counter, ask her out back.

Her out back, who made the coffee, daughter of the cheesemaker, cannot tell you how we make our cheese, it is a secret, if we told you everyone would copy us.

This is the same bullshit I am fed in coffee shops serving bad coffee, cannot tell you who supplies the coffee as other coffee shops would copy us.

I politely tell them of transparency, direct trade, traceability through roasterie back to the farm.

I had visions of cows eating seaweed or the marram grass in Skegness.

They buy in the milk, pay a fair price, or so claimed.

The cheese Lymn Bank Cheese, the finest Skeggie adulterated fake cheddar 17 different flavours, including ginger, all identical size wrapped in plastic. Some of the cheese encased in wax.

The odds are stacked against any new business. 80% fail in the first 18 months.

Five years ago may have got away with opening a coffee shop serving bad coffee. Not today. You have two weeks to prove yourself. People will check you out. If they like your coffee they will return, bring their friends, if not, they will tell their friends not to bother.

A coffee shop has to have a quality espresso machine, quality grinder, skilled barista, buy quality coffee, coffee ground fresh for each shot, precise measurements, weigh the coffee, extraction time, temperature. And with repeat consistency from one cup to the next.

For bad coffee we have the chains. Every cafe in Lincoln serves badly made Stokes low quality catering supply cheap commodity coffee. Why join the list? And if wished to try Stokes they would visit Stokes.

Nor is there any excuse for using poor quality tea pigs. Even less excuse when on Steep Hill have Imperial Teas.

But a quality coffee roastery or tea merchant would need to be convinced you have the expertise else they get a bad name.

No outside seating. Essential these days for a coffee shop to have outside seating.

In Lincoln there are three excellent coffee shops, Coffee Aroma, Madame Waffle, Base Camp. In the spring 200 Degrees will open, coffee mediocre at best, but better than the corporate chains.

Low quality cheese can buy in a supermaket.

A cheese shop has to have quality cheese, rare breed cows out on pasture not the black and white bulk milk producers, unpasteurised milk.

Heed the advice of Bronwen Percival on buying cheese in the Appendix to Reinventing the Wheel.

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.

Their use of social media to say the least perverse. A badly filmed video of their coffee shop located out the back. 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.

And no, not the Rolls-Royce of coffee machines.

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

Who are the demographics? The tourist are nigh non-existent, and visitors from Europe are accustomed to quality cheese. Are German visitors going to wish to buy a waxed cheesed stamped with a Lancaster WWII bomber that may have atomised their grandparents?

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.

Earlier I had excellent lunch at The Cheese Society. Walking up The Strait and Steep Hill, passing many closed business, it was going from the sublime to the ridiculous.

On my back down I passed by The Cheese Society, still packed.

I passed Madame Waffle, it too was packed.

I later returned to Madame Waffle and had a cappuccino. A pleasure, as is always a well made coffee. The difference a skilled barista and quality coffee makes.

Quality, service, word-of-mouth, counts.

V60 and Om Nom at Outpost Coffee

December 27, 2018

In indie coffee shops, not only excellent coffee very often interesting reading material.

I came across Om Nom in Magazine Brighton. Then when I came across again later in the day in Infinity Foods I decided to pick up a copy, On Nom issue 3.

Issue no 2, long sold out.

The day after the longest day, the Saturday before Christmas, I decided to try my luck in Ideas on Paper in Nottingham, as always keeps back issues. I was out of luck, issue 3 but no earlier issues.

They did though have latest issue of Standart and Ambrosia.

Then another idea, Outpost Coffee. I had seen Om Nom on display on a previous visit. I may be in luck. And I would have as always an excellent V60 from one of their single origin coffees.

At first I thought I was out of luck, not on display, then I noticed more reading material tucked away on a shelf. I was in luck, not only a copy, they kindly gave me their copy.

As always an excellent V60 served in ceramic.

The ceramic cup, Åoomi dust ceramic coffee mug, is on sale at Outpost Coffee.

Cappuccino at Craft Coffee

December 20, 2018

I emerged wrong entrance from King’s Cross Underground, but had an advantage. I emerged to find Craft Coffee.

Craft Coffee a kiosk down the side of King’s Cross Station, between King’s Cross and St Pancras serves one of the best cappuccinos in London.

If passing through King’s Cross, always worth setting aside extra time to visit Craft Coffee, to stop, relax and have a coffee. Note relax, not grab it and go, relax and enjoy.

My cappuccino, the best since Athens, and that is high praise indeed.

Coffee, La Vega, a Colombian single origin, an exclusive roast for Craft Coffee from nearby Notes.

Notes is nearby, literally a couple of minutes walk across the open space.

Also worth setting aside extra time when passing through King’s Cross to visit the Street Food Market in front of King’s Cross Station, especially the Borough Cheese Company cheese stall.

Four Corners

December 9, 2018

Lower Marsh, hidden behind Waterloo Station, is one of those up and coming places that has not yet arrived, but well worth exploring.

Lower Marsh has a street food market in the week, Saturday a craft market.

In London a couple of weeks ago on a cold misty day in London, I encountered Four Corners serving coffee from a van outside Waterloo Station. Or at least they were serving coffee, when I found them they were packing up. They suggested I try their coffee shop in Lower Marsh.

It was on my way to find their coffee shop in Lower Marsh that I came across Jessica Moscrop with her stall JesSpoke, her own designs.

At the far end of Lower Marsh I found Four Corners.

I order a cappuccino. Blended with cocoa. Why, why use Ozone coffee, then ruin with cocoa? I cannot be bothered sending back.

On the way I encountered drunken idiots in Santa costumes, more and more and kept turning up. Hundreds and hundreds of them. Impossible walk down the street. Eventually coffee shop door is locked to prevent then walking in to use the toilet. Not a singe one buys a coffee, not even a takeaway coffee. They are also sitting on the coffee shops seats outside, leaning on the window. When they finally leave the street is covered in rubbish. They have managed to kill trade for the day or the street market. Whoever was responsible for this charade should be made to pay to clean up the street.

In indie coffee shops it quite common to find books on coffee. In Four Corners a long bookshelf lined with travel books hence the name. They also supply Four Corners passports, mugs, little notebooks and sweatshirts.

Amazing poster hidden in the toilet.

Finally the drunken idiots depart leaving a trail of rubbish.

Four Corners were giving away free books. No idea why and I did not see any. Maybe publisher is nearby and have surplus stock to dump and what better way to obtain free publicity? But why promote a book on trash? Pulp fiction?

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.

Cappuccino at CUP Reading Minster

November 26, 2018

CUP hidden behind Reading Minster is worth finding as always excellent coffee in a pleasant environment.

Today, a cold wintry afternoon in Reading was no exception, an excellent cappuccino.

Lunch and cappuccino in Coffee at 33

November 25, 2018

On a cold misty mid-week in Brighton last week a little detour to Blend and Brew Brighton, then retrace my steps and down to the seafront.

It was then back to North Laine.

Infinity Foods Kitchen, I did not fancy, Iydea was not good either, and has not been good all year.

I looked in Magazine Brighton, then to Coffee at 33.

The filled rolls looked excellent, and as I was still hungry from my half eaten lunch at Iydea, it was a filled roll and a cappuccino.

Both were excellent.

My friend Georgia chose hot chocolate.

Coffee at 33 was where I would have eaten had I not walked down to and along the seafront.