Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Reusable coffee cups are not the answer

January 16, 2018

Reusable coffee cups are not the answer to the growing waste problem of plastic pollution.

It seems to be that [reusable cups] are the best solution if we can get to that. — Caroline Lucas

In the UK, we throw away 2.5 billion coffee cups every year.

These coffee cups are not as first appears paper, they are paper lined with plastic and therein lies the problem, these plastic-lined coffee cups cannot be recycled and contribute to the growing problem of plastic pollution.

 

Contrary to what Caroline Lucas has claimed, reusable coffee cups are not the answer.

I have yet to be in a coffee shop and seen a reusable cup sold, let alone used. When I have inquired, I have been told take up is minimal, even when a substantial discount is on offer.

There is also as James Hoffman has drawn attention to, a hygiene problem if people bring in their own cups to be washed.

Compostable coffee cups of little use, unless a compost heap on which to deposit.

Resusable cups are expensive, bulky, inconvenient to carry around. With the exception of office workers popping out for a coffee to take back to the office and even then only if coupled with a discount, unlikely to have any impact.

Pret a Manger started the New Year with filter coffee at 49p a cup, a 50p discount if brought own cup. In the absence of any in-store information, lack of reusable cups on sale, will make little difference. Little more than a PR stunt.

Why are we not seeing any statistics published? I would expect to see a weekly report, to see what impact, if any, in reducing the use of plastic-lined takeaway cups.

Without seeing any results from Pret a Manger SumofUs have launched a petition asking that Costa follow suit.

This is tinkering at the edges, addressing the symptoms not the underlying problem.

The underlying problem is the grab it and go consumerist culture, encouraged by chains like Costa and Pret a Manger, it is what their businesses model is built on.

What we should be doing is encouraging relax with a cup of speciality coffee served from glass or ceramic in an indie coffee shop. Only then are we gong to reduce the plastic pollution.

We should also be pushing for the introduction of a 25p latte levy at the next Budget.

Please sign the petition calling on Michael Gove to introduce the 25p levy.

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Copper Joes

January 14, 2018

A coffee shop part of a museum complex.

One way to explore a city is via its indie coffee shops. Had I not been told of Copper Joes, I would not have explored a different part of Winchester, found Peninsular Barracks, or explored West Gate.

Last year, on a visit to Winchester, I was told of a new coffee shop that was using coffee supplied by The Roasting Party.

On my next visit to Winchester, it was a pleasant summer afternoon, I decided to see if I could find it. Other than it was using The Roasting Party and a rough idea of where to head, I had no idea what I was looking for as I lacked a name.

I trekked up the High Street to check it out. I was led to believe it was Eat Drink and Be, that maybe had changed hands.

No, it was still using Winchester Coffee Roaster, though whether it had changed hands, I do not know.

It was a little after three o’clock and they were already clearing out the food. Why, what do they do with it? Do they throw it away, dish it out the next day?

Having got thus far, I decided to carry on.

I passed by West Gate. Saw some run down shops on a corner.

I had thought I was on the road to the station but I was not.

I was about to give up, when I saw a board flat on the ground telling me coffee from The Roasting Party 50 yards.

A few more boards, each different.

I passed by an army barracks, was it here? I carried on, found nothing, retraced my steps.

I found myself at Copper Joes, in the guard house of what was once a military barracks, Peninsular Barracks, part coffee shop, part museum.

Three people and a very hot dog sat outside.

I asked was the coffee good, they replied yes.

I went inside. Myself and the three outside, the only customers.

A very pleasant ambience.

A mother and daughter operation, mother Nikki makes the food, daughter Layla the coffee. The cakes supplied by The Winchester Cakeologist.

I ordered a cappuccino, sadly spoilt by the addition of chocolate.

A coffee shop serving coffee sourced from The Roasting Party should know better than to add chocolate to a cappuccino, or at the very least ask.

The name Copper Joe comes from two different sources.
In 1913 Josephus Daniels was appointed secretary of the Navy. The story states that on 1st June 1914, Secretary Joe issued General Order 99, this prohibited alcohol aboard naval vessels. From this point on, the strongest drink allowed on naval ships has been coffee. The annoyed soldiers unhappy about the changes called the coffee ‘a cup of joe’ out of anger.

The Copper element was added due to location. The Guard House was used by the Military Police, in Cockney slang coppers.

On my way back down, I found a side door into West Gate, stone steps, that led to a museum, once a debtors prison, further steps led to the roof, with a restricted view looking down the High Street.

Caffè Nero demonstrates why we need a latte levy

January 11, 2018

2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK.

What appear to be paper cups are not. They are lined-with plastic, and therein lies the problem, these plastic-lined paper cups cannot be recycled, if tossed in with paper, contaminates the paper with plastic.

Plastic pollution is killing the planet.

8 million tonnes of plastic are discarded into the oceans every year. The plastic accumulates. By 2050 the amount of plastic in the oceans will outweigh the fish. It is hazardous to sea life.

It is thanks to chains like Caffè Nero why we have a problem, they encourage a grab it and go, throw away consumerist culture.

Why are these cups sitting on a table, why was the coffee not served in a ceramic cup?

It demonstrates why we need a 25 latte tax, to be introduced at the next budget, why we must make it socially unacceptable the grab it and go coffee culture.

Please sign the petition calling on Michael Gove to introduce the 25p levy. And boycott chains which are lobbying hard to stop introduction of the latte levy.

Becca Turner

January 6, 2018

Becca Turner, artist, illustrator, coffee aficionado,  who combines her passion for coffee with her art.

Her illustrations graced the front cover of Caffeine last year.  Her art was also featured in Caffeine last year.

Latte Levy

January 5, 2018

The UK has woken up and smelled the coffee cup nightmare – and now there’s no way this horrendous and avoidable problem can be put back to sleep. — chef and environmental campaigner Hugh Fearnely-Whittingstall

2.5 billion throwaway takeaway disposable coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK.

Prior to the Autumn Budget environmentalists proposed a 5p levy on takeaway coffee cups. It would not have made a jot of difference and was wisely rejected.

House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee has proposed what has already been misleadingly dubbed a latte levy, misleading as not a tax on lattes, it is a tax on disposable coffee cups, a levy of 25p on plastic-lined disposable coffee cups.

These cups are not as first appears paper, they are paper with a plastic liner, which means they cannot be recycled, go to landfill or incineration, or are dumped in the street as litter.

Note: The pedantic may point out there are three plants in the UK that can recycle these plastic-lined cup. They would be correct, but who is going to separate out these cups and send to the the plants? Thus to all practical purposes, they are not recycled.

The Select Committee took evidence. Three chains refused to cooperate, the usual suspects, Pret a Manger, McDonald’s, and tax-dodging Caffe Nero.

Earlier in the week, Pret a Manger launched filter coffee at 49p a cup, a 50p discount if brought own cup. In the absence of in-store information and sale of reusable cups in Pret a Manger, has been dismissed as  a PR stunt.

There are available compostable paper cups. But, in the absence of a scheme to compost or a compost heap to drop the cup on, will join the waste stream.

Reusable cups are of limited value. Expensive to buy, often made of plastic, have to be carried around. They only come into their own if used when popping out of the office for a coffee to bring back to the office, and only then if a substantial discount is given for their use.

The chains are already lobbying hard to stop the latte levy, their business model is built on encouraging the grab it and go, takeaway, consumerist culture, which may be why Pret a Manger  launched a preemptive strike earlier in the week.

Please sign the petition calling on Michael Gove to introduce the 25p levy.

As always, it is the indie coffee shops who are leading the way.

What we have to do is discourage the take away culture. Compostable paper cups, reusable cups, is merely tackling the symptoms.

We have to encourage relaxing with a  cup of coffee at a coffee shop in ceramic or glass. There is then no requirement for a  takeaway cup.

Pret a Manger launch organic takeaway filter coffee at 49p a cup

January 2, 2018

I’m delighted you can now get 50p off a hot drink when you bring your reusable cup to Pret. I hope this will make a difference. — Pret a Manger chief executive Clive Schlee

As of today,  organic takeaway filter coffee from Pret a Manger at 49p a cup.

And the catch? Have to bring own cup for a refill.

Strictly speaking not a catch, it is to encourage use of reusable cups and discourage waste, reduce the number of plastic-lined throwaway cups that go to landfill or incineration.

Or is it?

In the absence of in-store information, no reusable cups on sale in store, store lacking the facility to relax with a coffee out of a ceramic cup, it will make little difference in the use of throwaway cups and will be seen as a PR stunt nothing more.

Note: Mainstream media carry the same story more or less word for word. That is what counts as journalism these days, cut and paste from a press release.

How long will this scheme last once the PR advantage has been milked? In 2016 tax-dodging Starbucks scrapped its own 50p discount for customers who bring their own cup just three months after it was introduced. It does of course raises the obvious question why would anyone who appreciates coffee wish to drink what is called coffee in Starbucks?

We need transparency, we need to see what the figures were before and after this scheme introduced.

Pret a Manger are not pioneers in this. Many indie coffee shops have been offering a discount if bring back a cup to be filled, the main difference, they have on sale resusable cups.

UK ships 500,000 tonnes of plastic to China every year. This is not recycling, this is dumping. China has said it will no longer take plastic waste from the UK.

The UK throws away 2.5 billion takeaway coffee cups every year. The planet is being destroyed by plastic.

One of the first steps we can take is to eliminate the use of throwaway  plastic-lined takeaway coffee cups.

And that is the problem, the cups are lined with plastic, cannot be recycled, go to landfill or incineration or are thrown in the street.

Compostable paper cups are available. Fine, if on way home, drop off on the compost heap, but what if not, what then to do with the paper cup? It will end up in the waste stream.

Reusable cups, eg KeepCup, have  a role for office workers popping out for a coffee and taking back to the office. Beyond that limited use as bulky, expensive, and a pain to carry around.

This is to address the symptoms. What we have to do is discourage the grab it and go culture, which Pret a Manger encourages, and encourage relax in an indie coffee shop with a  cup of speciality coffee served in a ceramic cup.

Death of the pub and the rise of coffee shops

January 1, 2018

Has the pub had its day, can it be replaced with something better?

According to a snippet on ITV News at the tail end of last year looking at the reopening of a pub, closed for a year, now reopened owned by the community, 29 pubs a week are closing.

If this figure is correct, and not simply regurgitating old statistics, then rate of pub closures as was several years ago. Actually the closure rate accelerating, four years ago it was 26 pubs a week.

Why? Why are pubs closing at an accelerating rate?

Pubcos are one cause of pub closure. These are property owning companies, zombie companies that make no money, can barely service their debt by screwing pub landlords and selling off assets, have large property holdings in pubs. They charge unaffordable rents, landlords are forced to buy drinks through the pubco well in excess of market rate, the landlord goes bankrupt, along comes the next mug to be fleeced of their life savings, or the pub if occupying a prime site sold off for redevelopment.

Pubcos are the classic example of extend and pretend. The banks keep them afloat. Kept afloat they can be listed on the balance sheet as an asset, when in reality they should be on the opposite side and would be if allowed to go bankrupt. There is no realistic possibility of loan repayment.

We also have an example of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Pubs were owned by breweries. The pub forced to buy from the brewery. The punter left with little or no choice, price hikes, especially if the brewery maintains a local monopoly.

The breweries were stripped of their pubs.

What should have happened, landlords bought the pubs, ran as independent businesses free of the brewery tie. Unfortunately this did not happen. Property developers, the pubcos, borrowed heavily and bought the pubs.

For a brewery, a common interest with the pub in doing well. The more beer the pub sells, the more beer the brewery sells.

For the pubco, no common interest. If the pub closes, find another fool to part from their money or sell off for redevelopment.

Pubcos though are only part of the story.

Too many pubs are badly run, very badly run. They are not pleasant places to be. Noisy, dirty, moronic music blasting out, widescreen TV, pub quizzes, drunken loud mouth idiots, rude and bored bar staff wishing they were elsewhere, serving disgusting rubbish from a global conglomerate chemical factory.

Too many examples could be given. But to list a few. A pub that served excellent, if expensive meals, changes to serving disgusting food but still overpriced; a pub where it was possible to sit in the back courtyard, relax over lunch, clueless new landlord takes over, insults the chef, chef leaves, where once excellent food, choice now burger burger or burger, illegal structures built in the courtyard, goes down market, noise and nuisance alienates neighbours and local council; historic pubs, heritage buildings, destroyed by inappropriate developments; a pub where is was pleasant to sit by the river, until smokers took over — the list is endless.

I have not named the pubs, but others could easily write similar lists, and some will know the pubs I am talking about.

Why have no lessons been learnt from Tim Martin and Wetherspoon? I am no fan of Wetherspoon, or the food they serve, but at least they try, they serve real ale. A pity they insult coffee drinkers and serve LavAzza coffee, even worse from a  machine.

But have the audacity to say pubs badly run, and the pissed trolls emerge from under their bar stools to add their ill-informed two-penny worth. And this included an abusive Camra regional official. A bit like being in a pub.

What we are seeing is an example of postcapitalism. The economy goes one of two ways.

  1. Serfs working for apps, eg Deliveroo and Uber, low paid part time temporary soul destroying McShit jobs, eg bar work, companies like Wagamama and the coffee chains.
  2. Open coops, collaborative commons, sharing society.

If pubs are to have a future, and looking at the current crisis, this is doubtful, pubcos have to be stripped of their pubs, as was the breweries, run free of tie, run as open coops, and far better managed than too many are currently.

Indie coffee shops are rapidly becoming the third place, the place to be to relax, not work, not home.

A well run indie artisan coffee shop, pleasant ambience, clean, art on the walls, live music, acoustic, jazz, classical, people sat chatting with friends, or sat reading a book or working on a laptop, craft beer, quality food and wine, books to browse, and of course serving excellent speciality coffee. And for lone females, added advantage of not being sexually harassed.

It is somewhat ironic, more likely to find craft beer, wine worth drinking, in a coffee shop than in a pub.

Warehouse Speciality Blends is known for its wine, The Underdog for craft beer,  Taylor Made for its cocktails,  Just Made 33 for its food. All serve speciality coffee, either roast their own beans or source from a reputable roastery, take a pride in their coffee.

Atlantis Cafe is a coffee shop in Liopetri, a one horse town, difficult to get to, where tumbleweed blowing through would not look out of place, a coffee shop with a pleasant ambience, where people relax, chat with their friends, play backgammon, that is busy until late. In the tourist areas, the slum bars attract the drunks, the bottom end of the tourist market, stay open until late, but are not busy, many are facing closure. The tourist industry spiralling downwards, the situation in the Middle East granting a temporary reprieve.

Atlantis Cafe, middle of nowhere, is busier than the tourist bars.

Coffee shops in Europe were the places of intellectual dialogue, political and philosophical discourse, haunts of artists. This did not happen in the English ale house, violent political discourse would have rapidly led to blood being shed.  The amount of alcohol consumed leading to retarded offspring.

When was the last time you saw bouncers on the door or a fight break out in a coffee shop?

What if a pub closes, a building that has historic value, is registered locally as a building of historic value, its community value recognised by registering as an Asset of Community Value (though it is difficult to claim a pub an Asset of Community Value when a myth it ever was), sits empty for several months, is stripped bare, restored to how it was as an historic building, reopens as an artisan coffee shop by people who are passionate about coffee, maybe in the evening a restaurant, where the emphasis is on ambience, service, good food, serves craft beer, wine, a venue that hosts cultural events, live music, book discussions and book signings, poetry reading, serves as a gallery for local artists, have we lost anything, or has the community and the local economy gained?

Frank Green Smart Cup

December 31, 2017

It is difficult to see anything positive about this reusabale coffee cup.

Ugly, bulky, plastic, expensive.

I am reminded of the cheap and tacky plastic cups on sale in Waitrose.  The main difference, those from Waitrose retail at £3.

What are the whole life cycle costs of a product made of plastic? It is claimed to be recyclable, but no information how.

I would not wish to drink out of plastic.

I first came across the Frank Green Smart Cup in Stokes at The Lawn. I asked how much? No one knew, no one could ever recall one being sold, let alone used.  They thought a tenner, maybe  a little more.

Did they give a discount if used? Yes, but no one knew. They said you scan the cup.

I checked on the Stokes website.  Price range £12-50 to £14-50, which puts it mid-range between a plastic and glass KeepCup.  On Amazon the price much higher, £26.15 plus £9.05 delivery charge. 

20p discount if bring the Frank Green cup back to Stokes for a refill.

I give Stokes as an example not as a criticism of Stokes.  What it illustrates is a more fundamental problem, the lack of take up of let alone use of reusable cups, be they Frank Green or the more desirable KeepCup.

20p discount is not going to encourage use of reusable cups. Even where coffee shops have been offering a substantial discount the take up has been minimal.

In the New Year, Pret a Manger are going to be offering takeaway organic filter coffee at 49p a cup, if you bring your own cup to fill. That is 50p discount. With no information in store, no reusable cups on sale in store, no launch on their twitter account, it remains to be seen what will be the take up of this offer. Assuming it is not a clever PR stunt, nothing more.

Reusable cups have to be carried around. In Stokes would have to use in excess of 50 times to recover initial investment in the cup.

What is a smart cup? What makes it smart? What differentiates a smart cup from a dumb cup?

A chip in the lid that present to pay for your coffee.  The chip communicates with an app on a smart phone.

I would agree with Brian writing in Brian’s Coffee Spot:

The lid contains Frank Green’s other major selling point. It has a chip in it, which supports both loyalty cards and payment methods. Called CaféPay, this means you can actually pay with your cup and, for example, automatically get a discount since your using a reusable cup. Obviously how useful this becomes will depend on how many retailers support it. It’s clearly a neat feature, but I can’t help feeling it’s a solution looking for a problem. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’ve never found myself in a coffee shop thinking how great it would be if I could pay with my cup.

 
Brian also says it is bulky.

I agree, a solution looking for a problem. I have never been in a coffee shop thinking, now if only I could pay for my coffee with a coffee cup lid. What is wrong with cash?  About as useless as bitcoin for payment in the real world.

And if I were to buy a smart cup in Stokes can I use this dumb system to pay for coffee in other coffee shops?

I can find no information on the Frank Green website on why the cup is smart or how it is used.

There was no information in Stokes. My attention was drawn after reading about Lulu. A stranded whale that died, and the sculpture hanging from the ceiling. I had wondered why, when they opened in the summer, why a whale suspended from the ceiling. It is made of recycled plastic, to highlight plastic pollution.

I asked, were their takeaway cups compostable paper? No, but they are looking into it.  I suggested talk to Makushi, who are now using compostable paper cups.

Compostable cups are a step in the right direction.

What appear to be paper cups are not, they have a plastic liner. They cannot be recycled.

Plastic pollution is destroying the planet.

Compostable coffee cups are better than the throwaway disposable takeaway cups. The UK throws away 2.5 billion every year which go to landfill or incineration.

But …. and it is a big but …. it does not solve the waste problem.

Let us assume I have been shopping at the market or the fruit and vegetable shop in Bailgate, have a bag of fresh produce, am on my way home, I can then pop my cup in with the fruit and vegetables, when I get home throw on the compost heap.

So far so good.

But what if not? What do I do with my compostable cup? Throw it in the bushes, over the wall in a garden, in the river?

That is the dilemma.

What in reality will happen it will join the waste stream.

Something like a KeepCup on sale, bring back for a refill. Disadvantage, expensive, have to cart around. Only really works if popping out from the office for a coffee to take back to the office.  And that is the market Stokes should target, office workers popping out for a coffee to take back to the office, and with a larger discount, and KeepCup not a Frank Green Smart Cup.

What we have to do is discourage the grab and go, mindless consumption culture.

Encourage people to sit and relax with a coffee out of a ceramic cup.

And to be fair to Stokes at The Lawn, their clientele is people wishing to relax with a coffee or afternoon tea.  And if you sit in the back room, can watch their coffee roasting operation.

If I were to advise Stokes, it would be get shot of the Frank Green cups, replace with KeepCup, which can have the Stokes brand, target office workers with a  substantial discount, encourage relax in the coffee shop with a  coffee.

How not to, a flyer I picked up from Coffee Aroma. I thought it was offering 50% discount on a cup of coffee. Sadly not. It is offering 50% on a takeaway. Please no. We should not be encouraging takeaway, we should be discouraging. Scrap the offer, reverse it, and instead, issue a flyer offering 50% discount if sit in and relax with a cup of coffee.  By all means a discount of 50% if bring own cup for a refill.

Disposable cups are not the only waste coffee shops generate, the coffee grounds, milk making cappuccino.

Best use of coffee grounds, put out for gardeners to take away. The milk, already warm, can be used for making yogurt.

Speciality coffee shops have focused on the supply chain, direct trade, sustainable trade. They now need to look at what happens after they have brewed an excellent cup of coffee.

Flat Whites coffee shop

December 16, 2017

Flat Whites is familiar to many as a little van, strictly speaking a pod, in the High Street in Winchester.  It took over the spot previously occupied by Jimmy Bean. Sometime in the summer they opened a coffee shop in Southampton. They have now opened a coffee shop in Winchester.

It is located in Parchment Street. I have never before walked down Parchment Street. Lined with interesting shops, far better than find in the High Street.

Flat Whites towards the end of the shops, in a little courtyard.

I walked in, found it was busy, a warm greeting from Abby the owner. She knows me from her little van.

Abby who owns Flat Whites coffee shop has done an excellent job, guest coffee, coffee beans for sale, on display Standart latest issue and Drift the Melbourne issue.

Standart is very rare to find. Drift I had never come across until The Underdog in Athens.

Coffee from Mozzo, served for cappuccino. My cappuccino excellent.

Strange, it was better than I have had off the van. The only way for a fair comparison, would have to have then had a cappuccino off the van, but then it would have been a different person serving. Unless different beans, I can only explain the difference a better machine, or maybe machines, espresso machine and grinder.

Guest coffee from Bailies Coffee Roasters for pour over. Little cards giving more details of the guest coffee. These are attached to the menu, and on the shelve where the bags of coffee for sale. They are not though doing themselves any favours with cards with tiny writing that needs a magnifying glass to read.

Balies I had not heard of. Not surprising, as in Ireland.

Guest coffee will periodically change.

I suggested try Tormento Colombia from Dark Woods Coffee, a single origin coffee from Finca El Tormento in Colombia.

Very expensive peanut butter from Cliptop Kitchen If quality peanut butter, I cannot think why would then wish to ruin it by adding chille.

On a shelf by the window, treats for dogs. Whilst I was there a black poodle came in. Must have been a regular, as asked for a  treat.

A lovely ambience.

The tables appear to be from reclaimed wood. The bench seats are cleverly disguised storage boxes.

When I walked in it was busy. A good start as they only opened the week before.

Whilst I was there, a customer walked in and bought a bag of beans. Abby went through the bags to select the latest roast date. She can rotate if slightly older. It is this attention to detail that makes the difference between an average and top quality coffee shop.

An excellent addition to the thriving Winchester coffee scene.

Favorite Coffee Shops in Athens

December 15, 2017

The Life Lab do an excellent job of capturing the atmosphere of coffee culture in Athens through three coffee shops, The Underdog, Barreldier and Little Tree Books and Coffee.

They must have been following in my footsteps.

My only disappointment with their excellent little film was that it was not longer and featured more of the Athens coffee scene.

Music:  Put your money on me by Arcade Fire.