Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Coffee by the Arch 20 minutes queue for bad takeaway coffee

June 27, 2020

Stokes at The Lawn closed at three, Misto not open never appears to be open, twenty minute queue at Coffee at the Arch for bad coffee.

 

It actually seemed like half an hour, but maybe no more than twenty minutes.

Are people in a queue because they see a queue?

I hate queues, I will usually walk away and go elsewhere or go without than stand in a queue, especially stand in a queue for bad coffee.

But beggars cannot be choosers, neither Stokes or Misto open, thus no choice but to stand in the queue.

I knew it would be bad coffee, I had a coffee when they changed hands early this spring, but glutton for punishment and you never know, maybe they have improved, got their act together, sourced quality beans, employed baristas.

Sadly not, the beans badged with their own name, but still poor quality beans.

And was the coffee bad? Unfortunately yes.

I walked through Newport Arch back into Bailgate, sat on a wall and took a sip. It burnt my tongue. It was scalding hot.

A cappuccino should not be scalding hot. I was at least asked did I want chocolate? I should not be asked. That is not to suggest it should have chocolate dumped on top. A cappuccino does not have chocolate. Why do cafes masquerading as coffee shops not understand, a cappuccino is not served scalding hot, the milk is burnt, chocolate is not dumped on top. Although the row of syrups is at least a warning sign the coffee we serve is not good.

There was a hint, the coffee may have been bitter, if made by a barista would have been an improvement. But better still, source quality beans and employ baristas.

I walked to a little square and poured on a garden.

And no, Coffee by the Arch has not improved since I had a coffee early spring.

Why do people open a coffee shop or buy a coffee shop if they know nothing about coffee?

Stokes on High Bridge re-opens takeaway only

June 17, 2020

Day eighty five of lockdown, first day Stokes on High Bridge open.

Being their first day after closed for several weeks I expected a very long queue. No queue.

Hand sanitiser outside the store for customers to use.

Serving coffee and toasties. Only one lady serving, brewing coffee, making toasties.

I thought have a coffee, maybe a cheese and ham toasty. Not possible, card only.

Stokes need to think again card only. Everywhere else preference for contactless card, but accepting cash. They are going to lose many of their elderly customers. Maybe that explains no queue.

A large empty sterile space in front of Stokes on High Bridge, more than sufficient space for Stokes to spread their tables in the street. This is being blocked by intransigence of local councils.

The local councils have had weeks during lockdown to have in place plans for indie coffee shops, tea shops and restaurants to park their tables in the street, to enable them to open whilst maintaining two metres social distancing. Win win for everyone. It could have happened in May. Revitalises the High Street, helps local businesses back on their feet, improves the city centre ambience.

Without tables in the street many local businesses will die. They are too small to meet socials distancing rules. Takeaway coffee is not a viable option. OK for a kiosk, but not for a coffee shop or restaurant with higher overheads. They  are surviving currently with staff on furlough, rent deferred. But what then when these schemes end?

Stokes at the Lawn currently not open.

Coffee Aroma will open on the first of July, takeaway only. They asked to put tables in the street. An emphatic no from County Hall, not even the courtesy of an explanation.

Madame Waffle not open any time soon.

Bookstop Cafe open, had tables outside, ordered by City Council to remove.

 

Covid-19 indie coffee shops

June 12, 2020

Will indie coffee shops survive covid-19 pandemic?

I will roughly divide thoughts, observations and conversations before lockdown, during lockdown and what will happen next.

Maybe ten days before lockdown, a visit to Nottingham a large city, not deserted but few people about. One coffee shop closing early few customers. Next coffee shop, few customers, less than half their usual number of customers,  numbers dropping daily.

A couple of days before lockdown, visiting Sheffield a large city, station deserted, a kiosk on my way into the city centre told me I would find the city centre deserted, few people about, little open, restaurants I passed by, the few that were open, the few that had customers maybe a couple of diners. I ate and had coffee at Marmadukes, a coffee shop usually very busy, I was the only person there. Business down by at least 80%. Coffee shops were closing at three. In part no customers, in part to let staff home before rush hour, not that there was a rush hour. Talking to the owner of another coffee shop, the question on his mind, how was he to survive?

Before lockdown, measures were already in place, hand sanitiser by the entrance, compostable coffee cups, contactless cards, no reusable cups.

The kiosk in Sheffield I passed by earlier, after I talked to them, a sign no reusable cups.

Lockdown a mixed blessing, at least cost of staff covered by furlough, rents deferred.

Lincoln a city during lockdown. The chains stayed open for a few days then closed. Indie coffee shops closed immediately. A few weeks ago, one large coffee shop a small chain opened for takeaway. A slow trickle of customers but I doubt it will cover the cost of two staff. The only advantage, they are open before the corporate chains, maybe they will attract and retain some of their clientele.

Many coffee shops have no future. Too small to manage social distancing. A kiosk can survive on takeaway only, a coffee shop with higher overheads cannot. The large coffee shop, once rents and business rates kick back in, would not survive.

We had sunniest May on record, Mediterranean climate. The tragedy indie coffee shops and restaurants not able to spread their tables into the street. Win win for everyone. Kick starts the local economy, maintains social distancing, helps local businesses back on their feet, improves city centre ambience.

One coffee shop asked. They received an emphatic no. They currently employ eight staff on furlough. When furlough ends six will lose their jobs leaving two for takeaway coffee, but not a viable businesses.

Unfortunately we will not agree to you increasing the number of tables and chairs you use or the size of the area that you have at the current time (your enclosure needs to still be only outside the frontage of your premises).

Not even the courtesy of an explanation.

Looking at Guildford, the corporate coffee chains that litter our town centres, cafes pretending to be coffee shops, three coffee shops. Of the three I cannot see Canopy Coffee or Surrey Hills surviving as they do not have the option to expand into the street. Krema yes, if allowed to expand into Tunsgate, if not no. When first open, Krema did have its tables in the street and was ordered to remove them.

It is not only coffee shops at risk it is the entire supply chain. There are the coffee roasteries that supply the coffee shops, the growers who supply the coffee beans.

We can hear bird song, streets are traffic free, cities pollution free. We have been jolted into another now. There can be no going back to normal as normal was not normal.

We have to reclaim the streets.

In Athens in the evening the streets turn into restaurants. Athens is expanding its network of pedestrianised streets.

Sheffield has plans to expand pedestrianised streets.

North Laine in Brighton the restaurants, coffee shops and other shops are in the street. There are plans to expand the pedestrianised streets.

Soho has plans to pedestrianise the area, turn into one large open air coffee shop and restaurant. Currently awaiting approval from Westminster Council.

We all have to act. If not, we lose our coffee shops.

Talk to local councils and councillors, change the mindset that allows traffic into city centres, pedestrianise the city centre, allow indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread their tables into the street, no chains no pubs No Smoking.

Find and locate your local indie coffee shops. Support them.

If anyone wishes to follow me on social media, I will try and post every day indie coffee shops worth visiting and supporting. No guarantee they are open or when they will open.

Buy coffee. If not from a local coffee shop, from a coffee roastery.

Buy bean-to-bar craft chocolate.

Support local businesses.

Government has to extend furlough for local businesses if they are unable to open. Reducing social distancing from two metres to one metre does not help as it greatly increases the risk for staff and customers.

Cappuccino Stokes at The lawn

March 3, 2020

Usually I take coffee in for Mike to try, but today raining, I let Mike select a coffee.

Try this Colombian.

Aroma was that of chocolate, milk chocolate, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.

OK I know it is not chocolate, fat and sugar. Read the label if do not believe me. Cadbury’s do not claim it to be chocolate.

A moot point Stokes at The Lawn. Please stock quality bean-to-bar chocolate.

Bullion and Luisa’s would be good starting point, maybe add Bare Bones.

I digress.

Mike brewed a cappuccino.

Fruity, very different to the aroma.

And not usual for a cappuccino, improved as it cooled, more akin to behaviour of a V60.

The roast less a light roast, though was a light roast, but instead of lowering roast temperature reduced the length of roast.

Happy Coffee Bike

February 22, 2020

Spend fours hours travelling up from Kent, pay £400 for a pitch to stand in the cold to serve LavAzza coffee at a junk food travelling circus in Lincoln.

Masochistic.

To say the least I felt very sorry for the young Romanian lady whose stall it was, her very first outing with her coffee trike.

I doubt she covered her travel costs, let alone cost of the pitch, cost of overnight stay.

Who conned her into this ridiculous venture?

She had not worked in coffee, knew nothing about coffee.

Why serve LavAzza when High Street lined with coffee shops serving bad coffee?

She was frozen. I offered to take her for a coffee to have the chance to warm up and drink a decent coffee.  But she could not leave her stall.

I advised she checked out coffee roasteries in Sussex, and to attend the Brighton Coffee Festival in August.

Coffee by the Arch revisited

February 19, 2020

Since my last visit some time ago, Coffee by the Arch has changed owners. It had been for sale for some time. New owners took over 20 days ago.

On my last visit, service was so bad, I gave up waiting and walked out. And what I saw of coffee served not worth waiting. The coffee sourced not good.

Very little has changed, and not improved.

Service still bad, clueless on coffee.

Long wait before served with a cappuccino carpet bombed with chocolate.

I took it back. Second attempt not much better. All I can say in its favour is that I have had worse.

The coffee supplied by Limini, suppliers of catering supply coffee to the trade. Says all need to know about Limini when they supply syrups.

There is no excuse for sourcing cheap low quality coffee, or for not employing skilled baristas.

Local try Seven Districts. But would need to employ a barista to get the best out of their coffee.

I have never understood why anyone opens or buys a coffee shop when knows nothing about coffee.

Depressing, in a good location and could be an excellent little coffee shop.

Lunch at Marmadukes

February 7, 2020

Most towns have two or three places worth eating.

For Sheffield, South Street Kitchen,  ShuJu Kitchen Taiwanese pop up kitchen at Union St and Marmadukes opposite Sheffield Cathedral.

South Street Kitchen coffee, cakes and vegetarian food at the foot of the Park Hill Flats, cross the tram lines out the back of Sheffield Railway Station and follow the path leading up the slope. Stunning views over Sheffield city centre.

Union St, not far from Winter Garden, a pop up kitchen, each day different. For ShuJu Kitchen advisable to check as may otherwise be disappointed.

Marmadukes, old Georgian town house opposite Sheffield Cathedral, excellent lunch and coffee.

Union St no Shuju Kitchen, therefore Marmadukes it was, head straight down the street, past Sheffield Town Hall, turn into side street Norfolk Row where Marmadukes is located in a beautiful old Georgian town house opposite Sheffield Cathedral.

Excellent burger and chips. Very filling. I struggled to finish.

Followed by an excellent cappuccino.

Marmadukes have recently opened a second coffee shop in Cambridge Street (near John Lewis).

Marmadukes is featured in Coffee Shop North.  Available to browse but not to buy.

Stray’s Newark

January 29, 2020

Serving the best coffee in Newark since 2003. — Stray’s Newark

The business is built on the mantra that we’ll make you “the best coffee you’ll have today” and we’ve been doing that since 2003.  — Stray’s Newark

When a coffee shop claims to be serving the best coffee in town, it as a rule means they are serving crap coffee. Good coffee speaks for itself. World class coffee shops never make such ludicrous claims.

What I found, a greasy spoon cafe serving very bad coffee.

I asked for burger, claimed to be homemade. Did not have. Offered chicken burger. Yuk, No thanks.

Luckily I had had excellent mushroom soup and a bread roll earlier at The Soup Dwagon in Chain Lane.

Menu says locally sourced, but without saying from where meaningless. Contrast with Stokes on High Bridge, locally sourced and they say who supplies.

I ordered a coffee. Service abysmal. A long wait.

When it arrived, looked disgusting, cappuccino carpet bombed with chocolate. A tiny sip, scalding hot, tasted disgusting.

I took it back. Then had an argument, told I should have said if I did not want chocolate, the till said chocolate.

Begs the question how was I to know what the till says?  It is not for me to contradict the till, it is for whoever is serving to ask. And a good coffee shop would never dream of offering chocolate. The only reason chocolate dumped on a cappuccino to mask that it is cheap crap coffee.

I asked of the coffee they use. No one knew. The bags of coffee on sale, appeared to be catering supply coffee, no roast date. If we take the best by date July 2020 which for coffee is meaningless the coffee was probably roasted July 2019. In other words old coffee long past its best.

And what does Rich Roast Beans mean? Absolutely nothing. Looking at the beans, dark over-roasted to hide that cheap rubbish coffee, a standardised product requires no skill of the person brewing the coffee.

The coffee supplied by Caffe Moko suppliers of catering supply coffee.

Note: I have asked of Caffe Moko suppliers of the catering supply coffee the roast date for coffee with a meaningless best before date of July 2020. They have lacked the courtesy to reply.

Note: Coffee is at its best within three weeks of roast date. Coffee shops that care about coffee, do not use beyond three weeks. Always check roast date.

Stray’s clueless on use of social media. I had asked from where they source their coffee. Lacked the courtesy of a reply.  But, if cheap catering supply coffee easy to see why Stray’s keep quiet.

Second cappuccino arrived a little quicker. It too looked disgusting, a quarter of an inch of froth and foam sitting above the cup. I dipped my spoon in. There may have been coffee somewhere in the bottom of my cup if plumbed the depths my spoon came back up with a slight brown tinge.

A tiny sip, scalding hot, tasted disgusting.

The cookie I had ordered came later. It was not good, sugary and sweet, cheap chocolate, sugar held together with starch with a few crumbs of cheap chocolate added. Not a quality cookie.

I was pleased I did not have anything to eat. Not going by the coffee or the cookie.

I was also pleased I did not have anything to eat, the vile stomach churning stench emanating from the kitchen, I was tempted to ask but thought best not to know.

I asked for a bag for remnants of my cookie. To my surprise a brown paper carrier bag. Surprise turns to shock when I look inside and see my cookie sitting in a plastic box.

Care for the environment, plastic pollution, must have passed Stray’s by.

I walked out, my disgusting cappuccino left untouched. I should have demanded a refund.

I hold no great store with TripAdvisor trolls and fake reviews to ever consider as a reliable source, therefore I merely note in passing with no further comment that Stray’s is ranked at No 20 for Cafes, No 2 tea and coffee shops.

 

Stray’s claim to serve the best coffee in Newark, the board outside says so, the best coffee will drink all day. Putting to one side demonstrably not true, ranks as some of the worst coffee I have been served, with a service to match, and I have tried to some very bad coffee.

If this is the best coffee in Newark, how bad must be coffee in the other coffee shops?

It turns out, not only are Stray’s serving one of the worst coffees I have tried, served by clueless staff, I only had to walk a few metres down the street to find the claim demonstrably not true.

I popped in Balmforth & Co Coffee House housed in a beautiful old building. Ordered a cappuccino. It was reasonable, in another league to what I had been served at Stray’s.  I showed the staff what I had been served at Stray’s. They started laughing.

Stray’s are expanding. Opening in Oakham, Stamford and Lincoln.

Lincoln is saturated with greasy spoon cafes serving bad coffee and corporate coffee chains serving bad coffee.

What seems like a bad joke, Stray’s is offering barista training.

Newark lies half way between Lincoln and Nottingham, hop on a train and spoilt for choice. In Lincoln Coffee Aroma and Madame Waffle. In Nottingham, Cartwheel Coffee, Wired, Outpost Coffee and The Speciality Coffee Shop.

The following day a coffee at Madame Waffle served by a young lady who had only started a few days  previous in the month and still learning. She made a coffee that was in another league to what Stray’s are serving.

— to be continued —

Lincoln Pier Cafe revisited

January 27, 2020

One cannot develop taste from what is of average quality but only from the very best. — Goethe

It is not often I revisit a coffee shop where I have a bad experience, occasionally I do, maybe I am a glutton for punishment.

The last time I visited Lincoln Pier Cafe a month and half ago, it was not a good experience, it was like walking into a morgue and the coffee was not good.

Then it was early afternoon, today late morning.

It was still like walking into a morgue, today the sun shining through the windows improved the atmosphere a little.

And the coffee?

The coffee was worse than my previous visit, and then it was not good. A vile taste, and even worse it left a vile aftertaste.

I do not blame the baristas, far from it, it is the cheap catering supply coffee the baristas are being asked to work with. No matter how hard one tries, it is impossible to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

The blame lies squarely with whoever is responsible for buying this cheap catering supply coffee. Either they are cutting corners and buying the cheapest coffee they can find or they have no sense of taste. Probably both.

There is absolutely no excuse these days for buying cheap catering supply coffee not when spoilt for choice with roasteries who deliver coffee to be proud of.

Dark Woods for example. I do not care for their basic blends, but even these are better than the rubbish currently buying, their singe origins are excellent. Then there is The Blending Room in Hull. Though do not even have to look that far, on their doorstep Seven Districts, support local businesses.

Ripping out the widescreen TVs would improve the ambience.

I would not wish to invite a guest to share a cup of coffee at Lincoln Pier Cafe as to do so would be to insult them.

For staff and students, venture off campus, take a walk to Coffee Aroma, it is not far, where you will be served excellent coffee, and they serve food.

Walk a little further, Madame Waffle. Also renowned locally for their Belgian waffles.

If wish to buy a bag of coffee beans, then either Coffee Aroma or Madame Waffle, Coffee Aroma has Has Bean, Madame Waffle Square Mile, two highly recommended coffee roasteries.

Staff, students and visitors deserve better, though compared with tax-dodging corporate chains serving vile disgusting undrinkable coffee a small step in the right direction. But need to try harder, showcase what good coffee should be like, have guest coffees, but please do not cut corners with cheap catering supply coffee from a food and drinks company.

What is depressing, is that this could be an excellent coffee shop, employ skilled baristas invested in quality equipment, then cut corners sourcing poor quality commodity coffee.

Blend

January 17, 2020

Blend coffee shop located in Steinton Market is the retail arm of coffee roastery Stewarts of Trent Bridge which is also located at Steinton Market.

And so it was to Steinton Market, an area of Nottingham I had never visited before.

Sneinton Market fairly easy to find, head off straight down the street from Wired. The further I walked down the street the seedier it became.

Google Maps says five minutes, more like ten minutes. Though I did pop in Bookwise on the way. Never miss up the opportunity to look in a second hand bookshop.

Steinton Market something of a disappointment. I was expecting a vibrant market like Trinity Market in Hull. I was also expecting fruit and vegetable stalls. But no, revamped units, now let to small businesses and start ups by the local council. A good idea. Though nearly everything appeared to be closed. And the area was dead, literally no one about.

I then happened upon Luisa’s bean-to-bar craft chocolate, the jewel in the crown of Sneinton Market.

I popped in, but at a delicate process. I am asked can I pop back? No problem. I am off to Blend coffee shop, I will return a little later.

Sneinton Market is three rows of long low outbuildings. In the second row I find a craft brewery. I pop in. Not open to visitors, but I walk in anyway. I buy a can of expensive IPA, only a choice of two. I don’t like cans, I prefer beer in bottles.

In the third row I find Stewarts of Trent Bridge, a coffee roastery. Again I pop in. I am kindly shown around, not that there is a lot to see apart from a Probat coffee roaster.

Then to Blend, a coffee shop, the retail outlet for the coffee roastery.

Open and airy, like a warehouse, but smell of frying bacon not so good, nor the loud unpleasant music, too loud. I was surprised how busy.

For an outlet for a coffee roastery not exactly showcasing their coffee, a single origin, not at all obvious, appears to be a blend that changes monthly and the house blend.

I asked for a cappuccino. As far as I could tell, no pour over on offer, or if there was not obvious as I did not see.

I was asked what size? Show me the cups. I asked for the correct size. Then a silly conservation ensues, told it is personal preference. No, there is only one size for a cappuccino, the correct size. It is always best to keep quiet than display ones ignorance. And if do not know, do not wish to know, then get out of coffee.

My coffee is brought blended with chocolate.

No, a cappuccino does not have chocolate, ether blended or dumped on top.

I take it back, ask for a cappuccino with no chocolate. I should not have to ask. I should be asked. And a good coffee shop would not ask as they would not dream of insulting clientele with chocolate.

What is brought is not good. OK, but not good. Lukewarm, mediocre at best. Marginally better than 200 Degrees, which is a very low bar to exceed.

It was then back to Luisa’s where an interesting conversation on chocolate ensued.

In essence Blend a greasy spoon cafe serving mediocre coffee. The food I did not try, and if I wished to eat from what I saw there are better places to eat Taste and Ugly Bread Bakery which are nearby heading back into the centre of Nottingham.

The coffee for a greasy spoon cafe better than would expect but not to the standard of a coffee shop, especially one showcasing what a roastery has to offer. Not in the same league as Outpost Coffee, Wired, Cartwheel Coffee or The Specialty Coffee Shop.