Posts Tagged ‘coffee’


October 21, 2018

I vised Warehouse last year. Service terrible, coffee awful.

I passed Taf on my way to an autonomous farmers market in Exarchia Square. I looked forward to a coffee on my return but sadly closed.

As Warehouse was nearby I decided to revisit.

Warehouse is more of a wine bar serving coffee than a coffee shop. In the cellar a couple of hundred different wines, wine by the bottle or glass, plus food.

Water was brought as soon as I found a table.  This is the norm in top coffee shops in Athens.

Curious, did they serve craft beer? Yes a choice of three, I chose one from northern Greece, one I had tried at Little Tree a few days earlier, the other from US I wasn’t interested in.

It is one of life’s ironies more likely to get a craft beer in a Greek coffee shop than a failing English pub.

What I had was excellent, reminiscent of Punk IPA.

What I did not like, strongly flavoured savories to accompany.

I then decided on a cappuccino. A choice of Ethiopian or Guatemalan. I chose the Guatemalan.

It was far better than what I had on my last visit. But not as good as the best coffee shops in Athens have to offer.

Service had improved since my last visit, but still not great.

I was there all afternoon until it got dark, chatting to a pleasant young English couple. Then,  and there is a first for everything, asked to vacate the table as booked.

We then walked in the direction of The Acropolis, through Monastiraki to Plaka.


South Coast Specialty Coffee

October 10, 2018

South Coast Specialty Coffee is on Mackenzie Beach in the middle of the bar ghetto, next to Caffe Nero. A fair old trek from Larnaca Marina.

A large seating area outside on artificial grass, inside the serving area, half of the inside taken up by a kids play area. There are proposals to charge for this as supervised, at a guess because parents are dumping kids unsupervised.

First impressions, a ghastly chain.

The coffee is Taf, not only Taf but Taf competition blend.

It was not good. Far better than if gone to Caffe Nero, but Taf should be far far better than this.

A cold brew tower. Was it for show? No, used for cold brew. I was offered a sample. It was not good. Concentrate and undrinkable.

The explanation, we serve with ice, the ice melts.

No. Make not as concentrate, serve cold, with one large ice cube at minus 22C that slowly slowly melts and does not dilute the drink. Follow the example of how cold brew is served at The Underdog in Athens.

A neat touch, when coffee served, a card with a QR code. Scan and if wish, complete a survey.

A sign outside Best Coffee in Larnaca. Asking for trouble when not. Taf coffee is far better than this in Athens. Miyu Coffee in Protaras is serving Taf coffee, not even competition blend, and better than this.

Outside Larnaca Marina, Nick’s Coffee Bike, by far the best coffee in Larnaca is in another league.

That is not to say South Coast Specialty Coffee is serving bad coffee, far worse coffee is served in the corporate coffee chains, but Taf should be far far better than this, especially if using competition blend, and no, it is not the best coffee in Larnaca, that accolade belongs to Nick’s Coffee Bike, though may have been true three months ago.

It is quite a trek from Larnaca Marina to Mackenzie Beach. There are plans afoot to develop the beach. Not a good ide, though please get rid of the artificial grass. What is needed is a shuttle bus service, an electric bus, from Larnaca Marina, or at least the Bus Stop, to Mackenzie Beach at one euro.

Nick’s Coffee Bike

October 3, 2018

To find coffee worth drinking in Cyprus is a rarity.

To find specialty coffee in Larnaca in a street lined with every disgusting corporate chain can think of, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coffee Island (Greek version of Starbucks), Ocean Basket (seafood equivalent of McDonald’s), where an independent coffee shop is made to look like a corporate chain and may as well be when serving LavAzza, to find good coffee, is like finding a pearl on the dirty grey beach, a cause to celebrate, to dance in the street.

And there it was a sign for Nick’s Coffee Bike, with a promise of specialty coffee and beyond the sign a bicycle, strictly speaking a tricycle, with Nick himself chatting to customers when not serving coffee.

The bicycle Nick had imported from Manchester, stripped and rebuilt.

Nick had learnt coffee by working coffee in Manchester the only way to learn.

The coffee he serves is from Has Bean, one of the top coffee roasteries in the UK.

A pouring jug from Coffee Lab in UK, designed by Dhan Tamang, UK latte art champion for six years author of Coffee Art.

Nick participated in a coffee throw down at TAKK a coffee shop in Manchester and came first. His prize was the pouring jug and the book.

I ordered a cappuccino. It was excellent.

I had been told Nick was one of the best baristas in Cyprus. I would not beg to differ. Knowledgeable and passionate about coffee.

A person of integrity, willing to take the risk to do something he believes in, to follow his dreams.

A risk that appears to be paying off.

A steady steam of customers, many greeted him as old friends even though he had only been there for a couple of months. One customer told me she was from Romania had tried the coffee yesterday and was back today, the first time she had found decent coffee in Cyprus.

The coffee cups in what must be a first for Cyprus are compostable.

Cyprus is an island, it is dependent on the sea. Plastic is killing the sea. Everywhere serves coffee in plastic, in plastic-lined cups.

At first I thought he was not in a good location. But on reflection this is an excellent location, as away from the ghastly chains and in front of Larnaca Marina.

A little way past the coffee bike exercise machines. An excellent idea.

Afternoon at Larnaca

October 3, 2018

A local bus to Ayia Napa, then change to an InterCity bus for Larnaca.

I could have got a local bus to Ayia Napa and cheaper, but two hours, the InterCity an hour and a half.

I would have expected people to alight from an already overcrowded bus at Konnos Bay, instead more piled on and a couple of people were left at the bus stop.

I decided to explore the Ayia Napa International Sculpture Park. An hour or more would have been needed to have done it justice. I had a little time whilst waiting for the InterCity bus.

The InterCity bus hit the coast 11 km before the city of Larnaca, then all the way along the coast into Larnaca.

Desolation most of the way. Hotels empty shells, covered in graffiti, then on into Laranaca, many empty buildings.

The bus final stop on the beach, a little way past Larnaca Marina.

I was a looking for a bicycle coffee shop, somewhere along this road.

I decided to back track to the beginning, then walk along the beach.

Fortunate I did this. I saw a sign pointing the the bicycle coffee shop, but was pointing into the marina. Then spotted a bicycle outside serving coffee.

Nick’s Coffee Bike serving coffee from Has Bean coffee in England.

Excellent cappuccino.

A little way past the coffee bike exercise machines. An excellent idea.

With what little time I had left, I looked in the marina, walked along the beach, past the medieval castle, then turned around and walked back to catch the bus to Ayia Napa.

The road is lined with corporate chains, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coffee Island.

The beach a dirty grey.

Once past the old castle, more interesting area, but no time to explore, I had a bus to catch

The bus I was not sure, but yes, correct bus.

I alighted at the square in Ayia Napa. Waiting for the bus, moronic music blasting out across the square.

When the bus arrived, already full, passengers piled on like animals.

Mikel Coffee

September 29, 2018

Cyprus is like a victim with many assailants, only the assailants are corporate coffee chains. All the usual suspects, tax-dodging Starbucks and Caffe Nero, Coco-Cola owned Costa, followed by many may not have heard of, Greek versions of Starbucks Coffee Island and Coffee Berry, the Canadian equivalent of Starbucks Second Cup. The lastest to join in the affray, Mikel Coffee, yet another Greek Starbucks clone.

Though Cypriots have only themselves to blame. Open a chain coffee shop, no matter how bad, and Cypriots flock to it like flies around rotting meat.

Walk into Mikel Coffee in Paralimni and it screams corporate, it is like walking into a McDonald’s without the stomach gut churning stench.

A long wait to be served. Yes busy, though not many waiting to be served.

A cappuccino served in a 16 oz cup, a takeaway cup, a plastic-lined non-recyclable takeaway cup. This is the regular size. Asked if want sugar. A battle to obtain 8 oz. At least no chocolate dumped on top.

Even those sitting in, actually sat outside not running down the street with takeaway cup in hand, served in a takeaway cup.

Questioned on this, they admitted bad for the environment, but so far have been unsuccessful in obtaining ceramic or glass.

On sale ceramic mugs, but only on sale, not for serving coffee.

A plastic stirrer popped through the plastic lid. Not asked for.

All the utensils plastic.

The coffee was undrinkable. Too hot, milky, insipid, a strange smell, not of coffee. I took one sip, and that was enough to make me feel sick.

What looked liked factory cakes. When asked did not know where the cakes supplied from.

No cold water brought to the table as the norm in Athens. When questioned on this, hope to provide in the future ice cold water, help yourself.

Χιλιάδες άνθρωποι ήδη κρατούν στα χέρια τους το νέο ποτήρι Mikel. Εσύ;

Έλα σήμερα σ’ ένα κατάστημα Mikel και ανακάλυψε το νέο, συναρπαστικό, πολύχρωμο κόσμο του!

Join The Coffee Community now!

Thousands of people already hold their new glass of Mikel. You;
Come today at a Mikel store and discover its new, exciting, colorful world!
Join The Coffee Community now!

The Mikel Coffee website is all about selling a franchise, nothing about the coffee. And one of the dumbest videos I have ever seen, on youtube a series of follow up videos.

The video promoting their cup, their takeaway cup, their plastic-lined, non-recyclable disposable throwaway takeaway cup.

Why does any company with to be associated with trash, why paint your logo on trash, unless of course trash is your business?

Join our club, celebrate joining our club. Why would anyone wish to join a club to trash the planet, let alone celebrate joining a club to celebrate trashing the planet?

There is though a reason for the large size cups. The punters think they are getting a great deal, the supersize phenomena, they are not, they are getting lousy coffee.

But it is to make the coffee shop use more milk. Milk that is bought from Mikel Coffee and shipped out from Greece.

The same milk scam by Tim Horton in Canada. Ludicrous size coffee cups, far too large, undrinkable coffee, coffee shop forced to buy more milk, not from the local shop or dairy, but from Tim Horton at inflated price.

At least they were not using long-life milk which they had been using.

The same scam with the takeaway cups, coffee shops forced to buy from Mikel Coffee.

They did offer a 25% discount if brought in own refillable cup, but only if Mikel Coffee cup.

This is like the pubco tied pub scam in England. Pay extortionate rent to pubco, and on top of that, have to buy all drinks through the pubco at double the market rate.

As with Second Cup, Mikel Coffee is a franchise scam and they will do all they can to milk the franchisee.

Starbucks was due to open in Protaras at the beginning of the season but has yet to open, and does not look like opening any time soon. On the road leading to Fig Tree Bay Miyu Coffee, in the centre of Protaras Café Amárena.

Why open a franchise, serve bad coffee, why not work in a coffee shop, learn about coffee, then open a coffee shop?

If you wish for coffee worth drinking, cross the road, at the traffic lights head into the centre of Paralimni and a couple of minutes walk away, Robustos.

Why are Cypriots attracted to these corporate chains? It clearly cannot be for the coffee. No, not the coffee, it is to be seen, even worse to take pathetic selfies to be seen. To be seen in a ghastly chain where the cool, those with style, would not wish to be seen dead. 

The darker side is, not only draining money out of the local economy, as these are all foreign owned chains, draining money out of the Cypriot economy.
Plastic is killing our seas. Cyprus is an island, dependent on the sea. It is not only corporate chains serving hot drinks in plastic-lined papers cups that cannot be recycled, cold drinks in plastic cups, so to are too many cafes, though not the specialty coffee shops.

If Cyprus is serious about reducing use of plastic, it must bring in a 25 cent levy on all non-recyclable takeaway cups, discourage takeaway, encourage relax with specialty coffee in an indie coffee shop served in ceramic or glass. 

Individual Cypriots must do there bit and encourage their friends to do the same, boycott any coffee shop serving in takeaway cups. 

The only exception, compostable coffee cups, with special bins for their collection.

Indie coffee shops must do there bit to discourage waste, not only by discouraging takeaway, but also putting out the used coffee grounds for customers to take for their gardens.

Home Coffee

September 24, 2018

Leaving Hunter Gatherer I decided to try and find Southsea Coffee, even though long closed.

I hopped on a bus part way, then found myself walking past Home Coffee, I popped in. Coffee from Small Batch could do better. I asked for a cappuccino. Somewhat insipid.

On the corner, King’s Theatre, I turned down the road, hopefuly heading in the right direction, Southsea Coffee had vanished off my phone. I headed to the sea, further than I thought.

I found myself at Southsea Castle, stunning sunset.

Home Coffee have a second coffee shop at Cosham and are planning on opening a third.

Hunter Gatherer

September 24, 2018

A cappuccino at Canvas Coffee, Hideout Coffee appeared to be nonexistent, it was then either Hunter Gatherer or Southsea Coffee, both in Southsea, a bus ride away.

I decided Hunter Gatherer then from there Southsea Coffee.

Google Maps told me 12 minutes and a bus was leaving in a few minutes from Bus Stop M.

The stop before, tracking on Google Maps, I saw I was halfway between Hunter Gatherer and Southsea Coffee, maybe possible to walk.

I alighted half way along Albert Road and walked to Hunter Gatherer. I looked in a wholefood shop, asked, was told a couple of doors away.

By now I am very hungry. Lunch, sorry, kitchen closed at three.

I was offered a vegan fake sausage roll. Generally anything vegan is disgusting, and I have never understood why create fake dishes. With reluctance I tried. It tasted just like a sausage roll. Odd. A dog sat patiently waiting.

Coffee was Craft House Coffee, which I have come across in Nottingham as a guest coffee, either Wired or The Speciality Coffee Shop.

Excellent cappuccino.

Hunter Gatherer is larger than it first appears. A large dining area out the back, with a kitchen beyond that.

Occasional evening events.

I then decided to try and find Southsea Coffee, even though long closed.

Hideout Coffee

September 24, 2018

At Portsmouth Station I asked at Canvas Coffee of Hideout Coffee a few minutes walk away.

Not too difficult to find, past the Civic Offices, across a square polluted by a massive TV screen, like something out of Brave New World or Nineteen Eighty-Four, carry on, down the side of Starbucks. A strange battleship grey building only darker.

A sign Hideout and a locked door. On the door

this is not a coffee shop there is no coffee sold at this address

I banged the door. No response. Out of sheer cussedness, rang a doorbell for an office, no response.

Pissed off, one-star on Google Maps.

It was then back to Canvas Coffee.

Canvas Coffee

September 24, 2018

Stations are places where do not get great coffee, in general it will be undrinkable coffee from one of the corporate coffee chains. There are though exceptions, Small Batch kiosk outside Brighton Station, FCB kiosk on Guildford Station (though depends very much on who is serving), a kiosk around the side of King’s Cross Station.

Portsmouth Station a strange station, end of the line, and yet a small station with two lines. At least it was, now a parallel elevated line runs past the station onward to Portsmouth Harbour. Portsmouth being a major port, begs the question why the original line did not run to the harbour?

At Portsmouth Station, Canvas Coffee. A quick look, nothing worth eating, I decided to pass and asked of Hideout Coffee, a few minutes walk away.

Not too difficult to find, past the Civic Offices, across a square polluted by a massive TV screen, like something out of Brave New World or Nineteen Eighty-Four, carry on, down the side of Starbucks. A strange battleship grey building only darker.

A sign Hideout and a locked door. On the door

this is not a coffee shop there is no coffee sold at this address

I banged the door. No response. Out of sheer cussedness, rang a doorbell for an office, no response.

Back to Canvas Coffee.

Canvas Coffee gives every impression of a pop up shop, dark and gloomy, unfinished business. When I arrived off the train it was empty, now busy.

A cookie and a cappuccino. A fiver for a sandwich got to be joking.

The coffee was at best mediocre. From The Roasting Party, as used by Coffee Lab in Winchester and a kiosk at foot of Hungerfood Bridge on the London South Bank, it should have been far better than mediocre.

Canvas Coffee is a social enterprise, it lends people a helping hand. The people I talked to were friendly and helpful. I do not wish to be too critical on the coffee as it could be someone being given a helping hand.

On sale coffee from The Roasting Party and from Sunday Coffee Roasters. Not heard of. Their own roast. They only roast on a Sunday. Having tried a coffee, I decided to give the Sunday coffee a miss.

It was then either Hunter Gatherer or Southsea Coffee, both in Southsea, a bus ride away.

The sad bitter truth of undrinkable coffee

September 18, 2018

In May, I met with a friend in a coffee shop in Cyprus.

Where we met in Cyprus, Robustos in Paralimini is a rarity, a speciality coffee shop that serves decent coffee.

Cyprus has more coffee chains than can shake a stick at. Chains you may have heard of, chains you will never have heard of, Costa (now owned by Coca-Cola), tax-dodging Caffe Nero, tax-dodging Starbucks, Coffee Island and Coffee Berry, the Greek versions of Starbucks, Second Cup, the Canadian version of Starbucks.

My friend Georgia does not like coffee. I explained why she found coffee to be unpleasant and bitter, poor quality coffee, bad machine, brewed by someone who not a skilled barista, too hot. Yes, she had found coffee to be served scalding hot, and yes, it was unpleasant and bitter.

Owner George joined us for a chat and I asked him to make Georgia a cappuccino. To Georgia, I said please try, if you do not like it, you are not obliged to drink it.

Georgia took a tentative sip, found it to be OK. Only when her cup was empty and she had said she enjoyed it, did I point out that that she had not had to add sugar.

The only reason chocolate is dumped on a cappuccino, sugar and syrups added, is to mask the taste of bad coffee.

Visit a speciality coffee shop, they will source their beans from a quality coffee roastery, who sources quality beans from a farm. The roast will be light to medium roast to bring out the characteristics of the beans. The roast varies with each batch of beans. It then takes a skilled barista to bring out the best from the beans, and the skilled barista needs a quality grinder and quality espresso machine. Any error en route from farm to cup will ruin the beans and produce a poor cup of coffee.

The coffee chains buy cheap low quality beans. These are over roasted to hide any defects in the beans. This though is not the only reason for the dark roast, it gives uniformity of the beans, a burnt coffee bean is a burnt coffee bean, it requires no skill of the barista, a robot could do the job, the only reason McWorkers are employed they are cheaper than robots.

An analogy would be McDonald’s. All their burgers are identical, maybe 200 cows in one burger. No skill required to cook the burger.

Brian Stoffel from the viewpoint of a coffee farmer in Puerto Rico explains in an excellent article The Bitter Truth About Starbucks Coffee why cheap coffee is dark roast and preferred by the global coffee chains and speciality coffee a lighter roast.

In a dark roast, bitter is the predominant flavor. That’s because bitter is the flavor you get when things get burned.

At El Toledo, he demonstrates to tourists how the beans change over the course of just a few minutes of roasting, and what those few minutes means for the taste that ends up in the cup. Beans sampled at one-minute intervals, beginning 15 minutes into the roasting process.

The main difference between the three different roasts (courtesy Brian Stoffel):

  • In a light roast, the flavors are more fruity and acidic. That’s because the coffee cherries that the beans come from are fruity and acidic.
  • In a medium roast, the coffee tastes more balanced and sweet. That’s primarily because the glucose has been heated up and activated, but it also hasn’t burned away yet.
  • In a dark roast, bitter is the predominant flavor. That’s because bitter is the flavor you get when things get burned.

Two speciality coffee shops to try light roasted beans, Base Camp on Steep Hill in Lincoln and Outpost Coffee in the Lace Market area of Nottingham.

Dark roasted coffee can be tried in any coffee chain, and sadly too many indie coffee shops that buy cheap rubbish catering supply coffee. One of the worst I have tried, Jacobs coffee served in an indie coffee shop in Cyprus, the coffee undrinkable, the beans, black, over roasted and the disgusting smell of the beans turned the stomach.

To buy quality coffee beans, from most speciality coffee shops or direct from the roastery.