Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Asobu Stokes at The Lawn

April 16, 2019

An unusual coffee brewer, a mix of pour over immersion, also functions for immersion cold brew.

Unlike V60, no skill required, grind the coffee, pour in hot water, top up as necessary, leave for a couple of minutes, press red button to release the brew into the lower chamber.

The brewed coffee will be slightly cloudy due to a fine metal mesh filter not a paper filter.

A minimum volume of water due to part filter part immersion.

The resultant brew using a Rwandan coffee was good.

For the coffee shop, if no batch brew, an easy way to make a few cups of filter coffee.

For the home brewer, why waste money on a Nespresso? Set up your Asobu, whilst brewing, pour out the cereals, then coffee is ready. Not only that, the lower chamber has a screw on lid, take with you on your outing. Though if on way to work, maybe better to pour into s reusable cup, which can then used later in s coffee shop.

Ideally, a V60 at home, but Asobu a good start.

Many thanks to Mike, barista at Stokes st The Lawn for the demonstration.

Canadiano Stokes at The Lawn

March 26, 2019

Stokes at The Lawn is the only coffee shop where I have come across a Canadiano.

A novel way of pour over, a block of wood with a fine metal sieve in the centre.

Canadiano has to be used several times to season the wood.

Main difference to V60, do not pause to enable the coffee to bloom, a different grind size, and shorter brew time.

Compared with V60, pore size larger and allows sediment through to the final brewed coffee resulting in a cloudy coffee.

How does it compare with V60?

Only way to discover, brew a V60.

Also tried a cappuccino.

Coffee used single origin Panama Kotowa Don K Estate roasted by Dark Woods.

Special thanks to Mike barista at Stokes at The Lawn.

A couple of days later a repeat exercise at Madame Waffle, a cappuccino and a V60.

The cappuccino was good, though not as good as Red Brick from Square Mile.

The V60 excellent.

The improvement on the V60, at a guess down to grind size.

Stokes at The Lawn, flagship coffee shop of Stokes, a fourth generation coffee business.

Madame Waffle, specialty coffee shop in High Street, also serves waffles.

200 Degrees Lincoln exclusive launch party

March 1, 2019

200 Degrees, two coffee shops in Nottingham, a small chain of a little over half a dozen coffee shops. 200 Degrees Lincoln when open brings the tally to eight coffee shops.

The degree to which coffee is hyped is inversely proportional to its quality. The degree to which 200 Degrees Lincoln has been hyped bodes ill and actually does them no favours.

According to Jennie Holland PR their hype has reached over eight million people. Knock off two zeros and it would still be a greatly exaggerated figure. I doubt a reach of 8,000. And reach is not engagement. If we look at engagement, comments on social media, re-posts, re-tweets, we are down another two orders of magnitude.

Maybe PR agencies believe their own bullshit. Someone has to. It would be interesting to see the evidence to support their ludicrous claim of eight million, how it was measured. If you make ridiculous claims, which no doubt looks good to clients, then be prepared to back with hard data.

The PR agency lacks any understanding of social media algorithms. I receive at least once a day unsolicited tweets from Nespresso, maybe every few days on facebook.

How many times for 200 Degrees? Zero.

Neither as their infamous tweet shows have they any understanding of how to effectively use hashtags.

And the PR agency missed a trick by not making use of the large screen at the bus station or the screen at the train station. Though the screen at the train station badly positioned, not seen as walk in and exit via a different route.

How to pour money down the drain without really trying.

The irony is, apart from not doing 200 Degrees any favours, all 200 Degrees had to do was release a corporate press release to the local hacks and the scribblers would have regurgitated the press release as news.

The irony is open a new coffee shop, people will try, if they like will return with their friends, if not tell their friends the coffee is bad. A window of opportunity of maybe a couple of weeks. Word of mouth.

The launch party was claimed to be an exclusive event. Exclusivity is measured by those excluded, not by those invited. The infamous tweet from the PR agency implicitly invited the world. So much for an exclusive event. More PR bullshit.

Around three o’clock I was surprised to find a barrier in Sincil Street outside 200 Degrees Lincoln and the windows covered, the door closed.

The door opened to let a couple of people out and I was welcomed in.

Not many people. Whether busy during the day I do not know.

A large number of staff. But that was everyone, not as the coffee shop will be when open.

I have watched the coffee shop change over the last couple of weeks.

Two weeks ago an empty shell. I did not think it would be finished in time, but the shopfitters assured me it would be.

Early this week it was starting to take shape.

Today, still not quite finished, not all the gear in place, no tables and chairs out in the back yard.

But due credit to the designers for an excellent job.

Contrary to what Brian of Brian’s Coffee Spot writes, all their coffee shops are not the same and nothing worse than trying to create a corporate image.

What struck me was the open space, a mezzanine floor.

It was very much as I am used to in the best coffee shops in Athens.

The main difference the layout of where the coffee is brewed. In Athens, the barista is central, open to the coffee drinkers to watch their coffee being prepared, and better for engagement between barista and coffee drinker.

The serving area a lateral inversion that is mirror image of 200 Degrees Nottingham Station. The other difference on the left as walk in not on the right.

No long row of upholstered seats as 200 Degrees Nottingham Station. Instead tables and chairs, higher tables and stools, and a long table in the middle which for the launch party was used to display their food.

What I missed was the raised seating area of 200 Degrees Nottingham Station, light and airy, overlooking Nottingham Canal.

The one thing I did not like was the display panel for courses covering the first window on the right as walk in and thus cutting down the natural light. The one mistake in an otherwise excellent design. The display panel should be on a wall

I ordered a V60. I was asked which coffee I would like. I let them choose and an Ethiopian single origin was chosen.

I then had a wander upstairs and was invited into their training room. I think three training machines. Pay for a course and for their own staff to not only train on but use for practice.

Note: Four training machines.

For the punters courses in use of French press, V60 and aeropress. I would like to see Japanese syphon added.

This is excellent as shows people how to make coffee at home, and that not too difficult, skill and practice, and far better coffee than will ever achieve with a Nespresso machine. All for an initial outlay of V60, digital scales, swan-neck kettle and a hand grinder. And of course a bag of high quality single origin coffee beans.

The mezzanine floor if not used for training would make an excellent seating area.

My V60 was cooling down as we were looking at what was available, but that was ok, V60 improves as it cools (though not once cold).

I popped out as everything closes in Sincil Street at four, then popped back and had a cappuccino.

The person who served it to me, spilt down the side apologised and a second cappuccino was made. How it should be. Never serve a coffee that is not at its best.

I would recommend always choose the guest coffee, but ask that roasted to suit espresso.

The coffee is ethically sourced.

Interesting conversation with different staff. Their head coffee roaster was there but had left when I popped back. A pity as I would have liked to have discussed their roast profiles.

There will be seating out in their back yard and out the front in Sincil Street. Hopefully these areas will be No Smoking.

The back yard is work in progress. It needs greenery, plants in pots, trellis with trailing flowers on the walls.

Any coffee shop that opens serving good coffee is to be welcome as it shows people what is possible, that coffee is not an unpleasant bitter drink that has to be dosed with sugar and syrups and dowsed in chocolate to make palatable, nor is coffee served scalding hot.

Anyone who drinks in the corporate chains serving undrinkable coffee will be in for a pleasant surprise.

A comparison locally would be Stokes at The Lawn.

Not in the same league as Coffee Aroma or Madame Waffle, but better than other indie coffee shops in Lincoln. These days if going to open a coffee shop serving bad coffee on a hiding to nothing as already have the corporate chains serving bad coffee.

My V60 and cappuccino was brewed by their head of training. Whether they will be able to achieve this level of quality consistently is the real measure.

The food and cakes as 200 Degrees Nottingham, freshly prepared on site.

I would hope though they will give their kitchen leeway to develop their own dishes with locally sourced ingredients. For example Lincolnshire sausages sourced from the farm shop in Bailgate or the butcher at Heighington, bread from a local bakery, cheese from The Cheese Society, seasonal vegetables for soups from the local market stalls.

Apologies few pictures of what it looks like. 200 Degrees asked that I did not take pictures to allow it to be a surprise for visitors on Monday. I respected their wishes. An embargo the hacks at The Lincolnite and City X failed to respect or were not subject to.

Opening times will be until eight on weekdays. Sincil Street is deserted after six, no bus after seven. It is also not very safe once dark.

200 Degrees Lincoln officially opens on Monday 4 March 2019.

Coffee Cupping with Hasbean at Coffee Aroma 1400 Monday 4 March 2019.

200 Degrees coffee kiosk

February 24, 2019

The degree to which coffee is hyped is inversely proportional to its quality. For 200 Degrees a chain of nigh identical cookie cutter coffee shops serving at best mediocre coffee bodes ill for its soon to open coffee shop in Lincoln.

Hyped by the hacks at Lincolnite and Lincolnshire Echo who think that regurgitating corporate press releases constitutes news, hyped by quasi PR agency  Visit Lincoln who should be promoting local culture and events not hyping a coffee chain.

Part of the hype, a horse box serving as a coffee kiosk by the side of the river in Lincoln to promote their new coffee shop in Sincil Street not yet open, part of the trashing of Sincil Street, destruction of local businesses by local Coop in cahoots with the local Council to then bring in chains.

Pot luck if you encountered this coffee kiosk, more by luck if passing by, as whoever handles the 200 Degrees twitter account clueless on the use of social media, failure to say when or where made worse by lack of courtesy to reply to queries.

And even for their yet to open coffee shop in Sincil Street, list of opening hours but not when it actually opens.

  • broadcast —> one to many
  • social —> interaction
  • network —> many to many

Social media is not broadcast, the clue is in the name, social networks.

And the coffee?

Served by a guy with a bullshit job title Brand Manager, who is based in their roastery, not the head coffee roaster, handles their training.

The coffee is bulked our with robusta, a cheap nasty coffee that no reputable coffee roastery or specialty coffee shop would touch with a barge pole. I was fed some bullshit that addition of robusta improves the coffee. It does not.

The cappuccino was better than expected, but then this was a guy who claimed to be in charge of training.

The latte art not great. But then I am used to being served by world class baristas thus a hard act to follow.

On the plus side, the cappuccino was better than I expected and have had in Nottingham, which is why when in Nottingham I do not have a coffee in 200 Degrees, there are far better coffee shops, The Specialty Coffee Shop, Cartwheel Coffee, Wired and Outpost Coffee.

Compared with the corporate chains then yes, as their coffee is undrinkable.

Compared with local coffee shops Coffee Aroma or Madame Waffle, no, they are in another league.

I then after walking up Steep Hill and back visited Madame Waffle where I was served an excellent V60 brewed by an expert with coffee from Square Mile.

Whilst in Madame Waffle I was chatting to a couple of Chinese visitors who were very complimentary about the tea and asked could they buy loose leaf tea. It was measured out for them.

Other visitors to Lincoln said how much they enjoyed the coffee and that it was an independent coffee shop.

Which brings us back to Visit Lincoln, why are they promoting a coffee chain when Lincoln has two excellent indie coffee shops, Coffee Aroma and Madame Waffle, something Lincoln can be proud of and should be showcasing? Visitors want what is unique to Lincoln, that makes a visit to Lincoln worthwhile, not what can be found elsewhere, else why make the effort to visit?

But when Lydia Rusling  head of Visit Lincoln brags she took a visitor to Lincoln Cathedral, Lincoln Castle and Cosy Club, a fake 1930s bar, so fake a Monty Python parody of fake, there is something clearly very very wrong.

Visit Lincoln a quasi PR company masquerading as a quasi-tourism body.

200 Degrees will open in Sincil Street on Monday 4 March 2019. They have made themselves very unpopular by trying to poach staff from local coffee shops. Very odd as the Sincil Street coffee shop will also host a training school on a mezzanine floor. What does this say of their training school if they need to poach staff from local coffee shops?

They are also attempting to poach customers from nearby coffee shops. Angel Coffee House, not one of Lincoln’s best coffee shops, has been very cleverly manipulated into promoting 200 Degrees on social media.

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.

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?