Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Afternoon in Nottingham

September 1, 2021


My first visit to Nottingham since lockdown last year.

First of September,  first day of Autumn. 

Awaiting train, many on the platform at Lincoln Central, two-coach train busy, many more passengers than usual mid-week for Nottingham.

Idiots not wearing face masks.

After Newark, complete overkill, three staff walking through a two-coach train checking tickets.

Big changes in Nottingham.

Massive student block erected next to Hopkinsons, the other side, a massive hole.

Why oh why have Hopkinsons defaced their building with a electronic display sign? 

Rental yellow peril e-scooters dotted around. Not yet the problem of Athens or Oxford with rental cycles.  A few idiots whizzing around on. 

Before half-demolished Broadmarsh, anther massive building, a broad pedestrianised walk is being created. 

Walking through the half demolished Broadmarsh Intu shopping centre, emerge the other side, retail desolation, everything closed or closing down.

Not many people about, usually busy.

Walk past Cartwheel Coffee, very sad to see the cobbler Loakes shoes has closed. Thea Caffea has taken over the empty tea shop at the back. Erected ghastly garish A-boards in the street, out of keeping with the building, believed to be a listed building. I take a look, plastic flowers as walk in sums up the tackiness. For good measure, a tacky ugly sign hiding the name of the building. If this is a listed building, why no Enforcement action? 

I was not going to, but stay at Cartwheel Coffee, sit outside with a cappuccino.

Further up the street, a florist in the street.

I notice a side street yet more retail desolation.

Cubed, a new coffee shop and barber shop. I ask of the coffee, 200 Degrees, worse still, their poor quality Brazilian blend bulked out with cheap crap Robusta from Vietnam. I ask the girl outside smoking, never a good sign, the coffee machine. She had told me she was the barista. She does not know. No, you cannot look inside if do not want a coffee.

Paste, excellent Thai restaurant closed, no longer open lunchtime.

Eat at The Ugly Bread Bakery. Excellent lunch. Packed inside, I decided to eat outside, then outside no free tables, but a table free inside.

Stop at Kilgali, was Outpost Coffee, to ask when open until. I think they said five, maybe six. Great, time to visit Luisa.

Pass by Yolk, new coffee shop last year, has already closed. I am not surprised, nice coffee shop, but the coffee was not good.

No Luisa. Closed for the day.

I head to the craft beer brewery. Sorry we are brewers, cannot sell you any cans.

Head back to Kigali. Outpost Coffee was an excellent coffee shop, and yet Kigali have managed to improve upon. No mean feat. Guest coffee, coffee mugs and Standart on sale. I sit outside with an excellent cappuccino.

I leave with a copy of Standart

Pass by another new coffee shop Braze next to Ugly Bread Bakery. Yet again, 200 Degrees, at least their guest not their house blend. But even so, what is the point of opening a coffee shop and buying low quality coffee? We are spoilt for choice. On the other hand reputable coffee roasteries are choosy who they supply coffee to. But worse still, why open an independent coffee shop then buy coffee from a chain? 200 Degrees is a chain serving mediocre coffee.

Look in Cobden Chambers. How to ruin a lovely courtyard. Covered seating for a bar.

Ideas on Paper not open. Sad, as was an excellent shop. Not opened since closed beginning of pandemic last year.

Head to The Specialty Coffee Shop. Changes to the interior, three staff. I have time for an espresso.

Head to the station.

Packed train, though not as packed as pre-pandemic. Had I caught the next train it would have been bad. Not acceptable only two-coach train.

What use a coffee scoop?

July 31, 2021

That was my thought at a zero waste stall. Why use, what use a bamboo coffee scoop?

I take the point from the little experiment carried out by James Hoffman, consistency if take care, but consistency of what, an unknown, unknowable scoop of coffee? And it would vary with grind size and the coffee beans, for example if the beans were peaberry.

I brewed a pour over using an April brewer. I followed the recommendation of Patrick Rolf, 12g of coffee, 200g of water, first pour 50g circular pour 50g centre pour within 10 seconds, wait 40 seconds, repeat. Total brew time two minutes thirty seconds. How to without digital scales and an accurate timer? Not possible using a scoop.

I cannot see any use for a scoop. I cannot see why provided with an Aeropress. It leads to sloppy brewing, lack of consistency.

Zero waste shops: Refill shampoo bottles, loose nuts, rice, cereals, spices. But never buy loose coffee. Stale oxidized beans of unknown provenance, roasted who knows when. Always buy coffee from specialty coffee shop or reputable coffee roastery.

Lincoln Cathedral Cafe

July 21, 2021

Where to start, lack of character, lack of ambience, outsourced, disgusting coffee, piss-poor service.

But let us start at the beginning.

The Cathedral had a lovely tea shop, wonderful ambience, back of the Chapter House, off the cloisters. It closed, the staff fired.

I ventured into the garden a few weeks ago, a couple of days before they opened. I walked in out of curiosity, to be shouted at as soon as I stepped over the threshold, Get Out.

Visitors walking in the garden came across to me and said they were appalled at the way I had been treated.

They went on to say were disgusted at the closure of the tea shop and said it was yet another example of how the Cathedral squandered money. I think if they knew how much they would be even more appalled. I have heard £7 million mentioned. Whether true or not I do not know.

A couple of weeks later I looked again, now open. Very busy. I was told has been much busier earlier.

I looked last week, thought I would try a coffee. We stop serving at four-thirty close at five. It was a little after four thirty.

Why, long daylight hours, warm weather, visitors milling around, why close at five?

Today, try again.

Fountain in the garden not working. Was it my imagination, was it not working when I was ordered to Get Out?

The fountain a monstrosity, unbelievably ugly. This could have been rough hewn limestone, as used in the construction of the Cathedral, smooth on the inside, lined with slate. There would be some leakage. Surround with a circular channel to collect the water.

Lining the footpath, low lamps, grey, less than foot high, ideal trip hazard.

Outside what was the Dean’s residence, tables and chairs in a sun trap. Ideal spring or autumn but not mid-summer, no parasols, no shade.

Inside, noisy, very hot.

Service abysmal. At least four waiting staff came to the table to take order. Completely disorganised.

Long wait for order. How long does it take a tea and coffee when they were not busy?

I went to inquire. I was lied to, told only eleven minutes had elapsed. I looked at the receipt which was stamped with the time. At least fifteen minutes had elapsed. Maybe they cannot count.

I asked why was there no parasols? We have only been open three weeks and did not know it was going to be hot. This is like saying we did not know summer happens.

I asked of the coffee they used. Did not know. I asked when I looked in a couple of weeks ago when I looked in when busy. I asked of the staff brewing the coffee. Did not know. How can be brewing coffee and not know?

Catering supply coffee.

I looked at the cakes. Very unappetizing. Looked like factory cakes.

I returned to my table.

No air conditioning. Very hot.

I then realised time on the receipt was when paid, not when ordered. Order taken, then sometime later asked to pay. Should that not be when finished? The norm elsewhere.

Drinks eventually arrived, Maybe half an hour after ordering.

What was wrong? Where do I start? Cup size far too large, looked as though carpet bombed with chocolate by a Lancaster bomber. I took one tiny sip, too hot, tasted as disgusting as it looked, cheap low quality catering supply coffee.

I took it back. En route was intercepted by a waitress. I explained what was wrong. She started to argue with me. It is never wise when you clearly know nothing about coffee to argue with a customer who does, especially when have just demonstrated how not to make coffee. I have had worse but this was pretty bad.

A young man then came to the table. Said I had complained. Did not introduce himself or explain who he was. I asked and learnt acting manager.

I explained what was wrong. He did at least listen. Unlike the waitress who threw a tantrum, not in my pay grade.

He then asked what would I like to drink? I had assumed a drink on its way. Did I really want cheap crap catering supply coffee? No. By now I had had enough. I asked for a glass of water and a refund. A glass of water was brought and a refund.

Near the table was what looked like a drinking fountain. It dispensed soap. I explained this should be clearly labelled as to what what it was. I can see a child, once worked out how to operate, white froth pours out, will think it a drink. It is foamed soap. An accident waiting to happen. I explained to the acting manager what appeared to be a drinking fountain should be clearly labelled. He claimed it was. No, all it had was the name of manufacturer or supplier, no explanation what it was. I assumed to be a drinking fountain, a child would assume the same.

And the tea? The cup as large as the teapot.

The staff were at least wearing masks which is more than can be said of the adjacent gift shop, where no staff wearing masks. I do not recall name badges worn.

Large posters in the café and gift shop promoting concerts. No mention of services in the Cathedral.

Menu on a plastic laminated sheet. Ideal for coronavirus transmission. I saw no staff cleaning.

We left several minutes before four. Staff were already vacuuming the floors.

When arrived mid-afternoon, not busy, less than a third full. When left, almost empty.

The ambience that of a station waiting room.

A classic example of outsourcing.

If they actually cared and clearly don’t, they would have sourced coffee from Seven Districts, employed a competent barista, bags of the Lincoln Imp coffee on sale in the gift shop.

If visiting Lincoln Cathedral, walk into Bailgate if wishing to eat as spoilt for choice. Try Bailgate Deli, falafel and salad excellent, Sanctuary on The Bail, their backyard a hidden gem. Or Elite on the Bail for fish n chips. Or if a nice day, sit on Castle Hill with a sausage roll from Redhill Farm shop. If wish for a coffee or tea, walk through Lincoln Castle and out the other side to Stokes at The Lawn where on a hot day it is pleasant to sit outside. For the very best coffee, walk down Steep Hill into the city centre and try Madame Waffle or Coffee Aroma. Also in Bailgate a very popular ice ream parlour, always a queue. On the way down Steep Hill, Bells serves ice cream, a traditional tea shop and unlike Lincoln Cathedral Cafe has charm and character. Another place of charm and character, Pimento a vegetarian restaurant half way down Steep Hill, teas served are from Imperial Teas opposite. And not forgetting Bunty’s Tea Room a little further down Steep Hill.

Support local businesses, money is circulated within the local economy.

I walked down into the town sat outside Madame Waffle with Japanese iced coffee. Highly recommended on a hot day.

There are plans to use the café for meetings and conferences. I cannot think of a less suitable venue. And this has nothing to do with the catering, which is easily solved by ditching the current contractor. The rooms are very noisy, in the summer too hot. It would be nigh impossible to follow any conversation or comprehend a speaker.

Espresso tonic

June 22, 2021

I keep playing around with this.

Need a 310ml (minimum) cut glass crystal tumbler.  Crystal looks great.

The recipe is very simple:

  • 120g ice
  • 120g tonic
  • 40g shot from Opal One

For ice, I use the same water as I use for making coffee. It can be scrimped from a coffee shop or use Coop still water, but never tap water.

The tonic is important. Forget the crap from Schweppes. Try Fever Tree  Premium Indian tonic.

For the coffee, 25g Discovery Short Rwanda from Colonna. This is roasted for 25g, but is works fine as 40g for espresso tonic.

The trick, getting the balance right between coffee and tonic.

Opal One,  a superior machine to a Nespresso machine, roughly twice the price of the cheapest Nespresso machine.

When brewing the shot, flush the machine with hot water, shake the capsule, after the shot eject the capsule, flush the machine.

Aluminium capsules, obtain gadget from Colonna, Hotel Chocolat or Lakeland, extract the spent coffee grounds, recycle the aluminium, coffee grounds scatter on the garden or compost heap.

Compostable capsules, drop on compost heap or dispose off with waste food collection.

A very refreshing drink on a hot day.

The best Panama Geisha of 2021?

June 18, 2021

Panama Geisha, Finca Deborah the best of 2021?

I am pleased Patrik Rolf then went on to qualify, one of the best coffees in the world.

In the same locality we have Hacienda La Esmeralda where Geisha was discovered or rediscovered, for more on this read God in a Cup, and the estate of Ninety Plus, located Boquete, Volcán and Renacimiento.

Several things struck me from the farm, Finca Deborah.

  • shade grown coffee
  • beautiful wooded hills
  •  coffee protects the environment
  • the care the farmer Jamison Savage takes with his coffee beans

I contrast the introduction looking at the green beans with green beans I was asked to look at from Cameroon. The Cameroon beans had insect damage and black mould. When I tried to explain the condition of the beans was not acceptable, supplier became angry. Would not listen when I was trying to help, telling them if they wish to be taken seriously they have to address these problems, they cannot ship poor quality coffee beans.

I am pleased Patrik featured the farmer. Someone grows the beans, we need to know more about the farmers. Unless they care, we will not be drinking high quality coffee. We also need to thank the roastery and the person who brews our coffee.

We have our green coffee beans, how do we roast, how do we brew?

Slightly longer roast time, slightly higher roast temperature. This would appear to go against perceived wisdom, if we think of cheap crap commodity coffee, roast the shit out of it to hide any defects.

Then when we get to brewing, again contrary to perceived wisdom, leave to rest for three, four, five weeks.

And then, grind, store in an airtight container, brew the next day, which appears to go against perceived wisdom, grind and brew fresh for each cup, otherwise lose all the aromatic oils, coffee will oxidise.

Interesting to try, three different Geishas, same farm, same variety, different processing of the beans.

I recall something similar a couple of years ago, twelve different lots from the same farm, a cupping session at Taylor St Roasted.

I was tempted to order.

Synchronicity: Intrigued to stumble across this, of my friends at The Underdog, one of my favourite coffee shops in Athens, using beans from Finca Deborah for the World Barista Championship Boston 2019. It is always an honour and pleasure to be served a coffee at The Underdog and if time permits and not too busy conversation about coffee. If The Underdog rates this coffee, then Patrik Rolf is in very good company.

Foot note: I tried to order. Too late, Sold Out. 

Cappuccino at Angel Coffee House

June 7, 2021

A cappuccino at Angel Coffee House. It changed hands a while back. I have had a takeaway since it changed hands, not good.

Today, able to sit outside and have a cappuccino. Not good, completely clueless on coffee.

First I am served with chocolate sprinkled on top.

I send it back. The waitress tells me that is how we serve it. I cannot be bothered to tell her, no that is not how to serve a cappuccino.

Second cappuccino served. It looks disgusting tastes disgusting. Too hot, all froth and foam, the cup size not the correct size for a cappuccino, far too large.

No water brought to the table.

Coffee is Ozone. I have not yet been anywhere where the coffee is Ozone and I can say have had a great coffee. The Angel Coffee House no exception.

I left my cappuccino untouched.

Why do people bother to run a coffee shop if cannot be bothered to brew decent coffee, cannot be bothered to source quality coffee beans?

There are only two coffee shops in Lincoln worth a visit, Coffee Aroma and Madame Waffle.

The Eco Press

June 2, 2021

Coffee capsules come in two varieties:

  • compostable
  • aluminium

Compostable we can throw on the compost heap, where hopefully will breakdown on a well made compost heap.

Aluminium we can recycle, but first we have to extract the spent coffee grounds.

There is a third variety, those from Nespresso, nigh impossible to recycle, and cheap low quality coffee, therefore best forgotten. [see Coffee capsule recycling greenwash]

Always buy coffee from reputable roasteries:

  • Kiss the Hippo — compostable
  • Colonna — aluminium and compostable
  • April — compostable

A couple of week ago Hotel Chocolat launched their Rabot Estate Coffee range of coffee beans and coffee capsules, plus The Eco Press, a gadget for extracting used coffee grounds from aluminium coffee capsules (essential when recycling aluminium capsules).

My first attempt using The Eco Press was a failure, the capsule collapsed in from the sides, spent coffee grounds not extracted, though I found when dry,  tapped, the spent coffee grounds fell out.

Trying again a few days later, I noticed the bottom half of The Eco Press has a circular ridge surrounding a hole. The capsule must be placed inside this circular ridge, flat side down. This needs to be made explicit in the instructions.

Pressing down with the upper half of The Eco Press, the result was not what I expected. I expected a flattened, crushed capsule. To my surprise the capsule turned inside out, the contents deposited in the bottom chamber. Very clever.

This also explained what had me baffled. How to stack flattened capsules.

Now rinse the capsules and stack. But be very very careful, tiny shards of aluminium. Another omission from the instructions.

Note:  I found it was not necessary to rinse the capsules, tap on a hard surface and any remaining coffee is dislodged. It may prove necessary to rinse if wet.

A tiny gasket, what do with? Hotel Chocolat state compostable. These are the only capsules where I have seen stated the gasket may be composted. Other capsules need to state, of what material the gaskets, what to do with.

The instruction leaflet needs improvement:

  • clearly state place capsule within the circular ridge
  • describe that the capsules turn inside out
  • take care with the shards

The base has a bad design feature. Detach and coffee grounds everywhere.

Contrary to the misleading claim by Hotel Chocolat, The Eco Press is not the only such gadget, Dualit on sale in Lakeland and UPress from Colonna Coffee.

The Eco Press not price competitive, that from Lakeland cheaper.

The Eco Press is a very useful gadget if using aluminium capsules, indeed a must have gadget if wish to recycle the aluminium.

Do not be swayed by the nonsense peddled compostable v aluminium, little more than marketing hype and greenwash. Compostable can go on the compost heap, though may take time to break down, aluminium can be recycled but need a gadget to extract the spent coffee grounds.

Irrespective if compostable or aluminium, provided dispose of intelligently, will help reduce your carbon footprint and reduce the waste you generate. Of course the same could be said if using a French press, V60 or AeroPress.

Espresso tonic

May 30, 2021

A refreshing summer drink?

Fairly easy, at least should be, if have all the required gear.

First find a cut crystal glass of 350ml. I could not find, settled for crystal glass of 310ml.

No tray for making ice cubes. Improvise with plastic tray from ready meals, fill with 120g of water.

Reset Opal One to factory setting, which gives me 25g, 40g, then reset temperate to highest temperature setting.

Recipe simple:

  • 120g of ice
  • 120g of tonic water
  • 50gof espresso

Tonic used Fevertree Indian tonic. Strange shards of ice due to method of making ice. 40g not 50g of Kenyan espresso, default setting on Opal One.

I have to admit, looking forward to a refreshing drink, I found to be a disappoint,  watery. Maybe I should have tried in the afternoon when hot, not waited to evening when cooling down.

I then tried the Kenyan from April as 25g shot. It was excellent.

Last words to European Coffee Trip.

Real Coffee

May 26, 2021

Really, or just another example of real life bullshit?

This is unfortunately typical of the garbage I receive every day.

Exclusive new aluminium capsules

It’s your lucky day. You’ve just stumbled across the only recyclable, Fairtrade and organic coffee capsule in the UK!

WTF is real coffee? Or do we now have fake coffee like we have fake meat?

We have bad coffee, which this probably is, typical of what we find in the corporate coffee chains, for example tax-dodging Starbucks et al and the vile undrinkable coffee peddled as luxury by Nespresso.

Then we have independent specialty coffee shops serving excellent coffee.

There is nothing exclusive about the offer.

No, it was not my lucky day, and no I did not stumble across. It was an unwanted intrusion into my personal timeline.

Do not diss compostable.

I assume they mean the contents of their aluminium capsules are organic, not the aluminium which is what they misleadingly state.

It is only possible to recycle aluminium capsules, if obtain a tool (not mentioned) to first extract the spent coffee grounds.

FairTrade scam pays tiny premium above commodity price, maintains growers in poverty as no incentive to improve quality.

Facebook directs to a website, no information, other than told the world’s best coffee, another false claim. Nothing on origin, variety or Q grade.

There is quality coffee in Nespresso compatible capsules, but not from Nespresso:

  • Kiss the Hippo — compostable
  • Colonna — aluminium and compostable
  • April — compostable

Note: The video that appeared on my timeline does not appear to exist and yet it does exist. Very odd. I have posted a different video (but it too does not exist).

Note: The video that appeared on my timeline does not appear to exist and yet it does exist. Very odd. I have posted a different video (but it too does not exist). I have therefore posted the links (may need to be signed into facebook to view)

http://www.facebook.com/realcoffeeUK/videos/480234379723628

http://www.facebook.com/717503798352990/videos/961238294281270

Coffee capsule recycling greenwash

May 14, 2021

Podback, the latest Big Business greenwash, all the usual suspects, Nestle, Starbucks, Jacobs Dowe Egberts, purveyors of disgusting undrinkable coffee.

Kerbside collection of coffee capsules is not the answer, it is a solution to a non-existent problem.

A couple of councils out of how many local councils? This is pissing in the wind. It is to add yet another layer of complexity to household waste collection and recycling. Households already cannot cope and are poor at recycling.

A similar scheme in New York has poor recycling success.

A work around by coffee companies to look green was to send a courier to collect  or ask to visit a coffee shop to drop them off. Better than nothing, maybe, but not exactly a green solution or reducing carbon footprint.

An example of the stomach-churning marketing bullshit:

Podback is the new coffee pod recycling service. Created by the two biggest names in the UK coffee industry, Nestlé & Jacobs Douwe Egberts UK, the companies behind Britain’s favourite coffee brands, Nespresso, NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto and Tassimo, Podback is the first of its kind.

Joint has worked alongside the founding members (Nespresso, NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto and Tassimo) as well as all partner agencies to develop the brand strategy, logo, brand identity and brand led communications, as well as, in collaboration with BIG DB, a consumer facing website.

Launched this month, Podback provides simple and easy ways for people to recycle their coffee pods.

Podback’s mission is for every coffee pod enjoyed to be recycled.

The scheme will initially cover brands representing over three quarters of the UK market, including Nespresso, NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto, Tassimo, L’OR, Starbucks by Nespresso and Starbucks by NESCAFÉ Dolce Gusto. The ambition is for all brands that use aluminium or plastic pods to join Podback.

The suite of brand work developed for Podback includes brand strategy, logo and brand identity, recycling bag designs, announcement video assets for corporate social channels (LinkedIn+ Twitter), Podback Members Guide for new members to the scheme, social media consumer launch assets. It also includes a consumer facing website, in collaboration with digital partners BIG DB.

Damon Collins, founder: ”Developing such an innovative brand with such a strong mission and purpose alongside two of the biggest names in the coffee industry has been an amazing journey. With Podback being the first of its kind in the UK, we know the importance every aspect of the brand plays in the real world which is why we sweated every tiny detail. We’re proud that Joint is part of a team in helping making recycling simpler and easier and helping the environment in such an important way.’’

These ‘solutions’ are for a problem that should not exist, coffee capsules that cannot be easily recycled (for example Nestle) or composted.

Nespresso machines are capable of brewing excellent coffee so long as do not use coffee from Nespresso or Starbucks.

Internally all Nespresso machines are the same, the only difference external appearance and attachment of various gadgets and gizmos.

Buy the cheapest machine. Better still, buy an Opal One, roughly double the price of the cheapest Nespresso machine.

Buy coffee from a reputable coffee roastery.

  • Kiss the Hippo — compostable
  • Colonna — aluminium and compostable

Compostable capsules can be dropped on the garden compost heap or food waste bin or garden waste bin.

Gadgets exist to extract spent coffee grounds from aluminium capsules. Spent coffee grounds go on the compost heap or scattered on the garden. Rinse the aluminium capsules and drop in the recycling bin.

I do wish lazy journalists would do their homework, not regurgitate Big Business greenwash. 


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