Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Cappuccino at Makushi

February 20, 2017

I walked up Steep Hill, then on the way back down, cappuccino at Makushi.

Today different beans, today from Honduras.

Cappuccino and latte at Stokes on High Bridge

February 16, 2017

The third wave is, in many ways, a reaction. It is just as much a reply to bad coffee as it is a movement toward good coffee. – Trish R Skeie, Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters

A cappuccino and latte plus a cookie at Stokes on High Bridge.

Cookie was excellent, but mixed feelings about the coffee.

We have third coffee wave, little indie coffee shops, small indie coffee roasters, coffee plantations, all working together to bring you the best in a cup of coffee.

The roasters go to the plantation, to ensure the best growing conditions, the best beans are then picked. Next stage is how the beans are extracted and washed. The coffee roaster attempt to bring out the best character of the beans. Finally the barista coaxes the best the beans can offer.

Get any part of the chain wrong, and you will have poor quality coffee.

Stokes, instead of moving forward embracing this third wave, are not standing still, they are regressing.

A latte should look good,  that is why it is served in glass. In Stokes, up until a couple of weeks ago, served an excellent latte, not any more.

A barista will take pride, not only in how the cappuccino is brewed but also in the art.

This used to be true of Stokes, not any more.

What is going wrong? Nothing like asking.

Orders from head office.  We have to serve the classic Italian cappuccino.  Repeated like an automaton with no great faith in what they were saying.

No, Italy does not serve great coffee. This is to go backwards.

It is a myth Italy is associated with good coffee. That myth has arisen because the Italians invented the espresso machine, though the French may beg to differ.

The myth that Italy is synonomous with quality coffee, is just that, a myth.

Italy invented the espresso machine, though the French may wish to dispute this.

It was the French who first applied steam to drive water under pressure through coffee.

In 1818, Mr Laurens of Paris used a percolator system to create coffee. Further refinements by Louis Bernard Rabaut in 1822.

It was not until the early 1900s Italians came on the scene.

antique espresso machine

antique espresso machine

In 1901, Luigi Bezzera created a primitive espresso machine.

It was not until post-WWII we had the forerunner of the modern espresso machine.

It was Italian Fascists who coined the term barista, to differentiate from the American barman.

The world has moved on from bad Italian coffee, leave that to the likes of Costa, with their over roasted coffee.

And speaking of Costa. Stokes has appointed a training manager, from er, Costa!

Stokes is a very old coffee business, dating from 1902, now a fourth generation family business.  The current location of Stokes on High Bridge, in a Tudor building on a Norman Bridge over the River Witham dates from 1937.

Stokes have recently acquired The Lawn, though begs the question when will it open? It will serve coffee, roast coffee, run coffee classes. Though why has the Joseph Banks Conservatory been relocated? A key feature of The Lawn.

The service of late in Stokes on High Bridge has been abyssal. Today service was much improved.

The River Witham, which runs beneath Stokes, was today running very fast and very muddy.

From Waterstone’s, four copies of The Spy. Strictly speaking, swapped four copies. Waterstone’s stick stickers on the front of their books, which damage the books.

Outside Waterstone’s, between Stokes and The Stonebow, a  man was playing a saxophone. He was quite good, but why oh why ghastly backing music? It would have been far better, a sax on its own.

A little further up the High Street, Richard Silvester playing violin. I suggested he recorded and released on bandcamp. He asked what would did I like? Paganini.

Cappuccino in Makushi

February 13, 2017

A pleasant sunny day, though very cold in the shade with a  bitter cold wind blowing.

I decided, walk up Steep Hill to the top, then if I had time, a cappuccino in Makushi on the way back down.

Steep Hill surprisingly very busy, as was the High Street. It was like Christmas and New Year. I assume because school half term.

Makushi though was surprisingly not busy.  I sat by the window. It often works, people do not go in a  place that looks empty. And yes it did work, a steady stream of customers.

My cappuccino was excellent, but and a curious but.

In many ways a perfect cappuccino, only had like this in Coffee Lab and a couple of other places, but, and it has been three times now, an excellent cappuccino, but always a strange taste within the cappuccino.

Why I do not not know.

The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop down in the town has exactly the same coffee beans, roasted the same way, and yet never has this strange taste. And last week, following my suggestion, the cappuccino was better, though Makushi even better but for the strange taste.

At the back of Makushi, in a back room, there is an undercroft. It has always been occupied when I have visited previously. I guess if you know it is there, a good place to sit, and not everyday can have a coffee in an undercroft.

But, luckily for me, today not occupied.

A long table down the middle, coffee books and coffee mags on a shelf at the back, and as I walked in a bookcase of books.

Whether can take the books or for show I do not know, as I did not ask, but they looked as though there for people to read.

Maybe they ought set up as a BookCrossing zone.

Walking back down very cold.

A car decided ok to drive through the lower half of top end of High Street cos I am a Hermes driver delivering. No, it is not ok, and your are a mug working for Hermes.

But, in the High Street there is a problem. A pedestrianised street and yet after four o’clock lorries allowed to drive through.

After four o’clock the High Street was packed and yet vans and lorries are allowed to drive through.

Coffee Aroma has been ordered to remove its tables and chairs by four o’clock.

Who is causing the problem and a danger to the public, Coffee Aroma or Lincoln City Council and Lincolnshire County Council, with bad town centre planning and allowing cars, vans and lorries through the city centre?

Last week, I was almost run down at four o’clock by a white van as I walked by Coffee Aroma with their tables and chairs neatly stacked up.

Cappuccino in Stokes on High Bridge

February 2, 2017

Service in Stokes is deteriorating. It was not good a couple of weeks ago when  I had a coffee, today even worse.

Long wait until my my order was taken, then another long wait. Even the lady at the adjacent table commented how slow, that at least twenty minutes had passed by.

No explanation, no apology for the piss-poor service. And not even excuse that it was busy. Stokes is never busy these days. It used to be very busy, if not there before ten in the morning, would be waiting for a table.

And was it worth the long wait?

The latte was nowhere near what it would usually look like.

And my cappuccino, looked as though someone who did not know what they were doing, or did not care, or it was rushed.

No coffee shops I frequent, would not serve a cappuccino looking like this. I have had far better cappuccinos served, then taken back, with an apologetic barista saying not good enough.

Taste wise, it was good.

Pleasant chat with the lady at the next table. We were discussing local coffee shops.

I suggested try Coffee Aroma around the corner. She knew of but had never tried.

I also said try Makushi, the new coffee shop half way up Steep Hill.

The one place I said do not try, The Angel Coffee House, the place lacks any ambience, the chairs are threadbare and filthy, the coffee looks disgusting and tastes disgusting.

As she was interested in coffee I suggested check out No to Costa.

On leaving I saw Stokes now has on sale Northern Independent Coffee Guide.

Stokes did not make the first edition. Which I thought was a major omission. They are in the second edition, but if they let their standards slip, I cannot see them making the third edition.

On my way, I passed the guy with The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop in the grotty shopping Arcade opposite Stokes. Another location for good coffee, The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop that is not the grotty shopping arcade.

Cappuccino in Makushi Coffee Shop

January 24, 2017

I tried Makushi a couple of weeks ago.

Passing The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop, he suggested visit Makushi.

Good idea, I just had time to walk half way up Steep Hill and back.

Wonderful ambience inside.

From the outside, it does not look anything special, nor do you have the impression of how old.

Whitewashed walls, stonework projecting through, excellent use of off cuts of wood.

The wood off cuts also used for wonderful solid wooden tables.

Further in, another room, then beyond that an undercroft.

Upstairs leads to a terrace, though at the moment not open.

Dog friendly.

Excellent cappuccino, but …

When I had a cappuccino a couple of weeks ago, the cappuccino had an unpleasant taste, that left an unpleasant aftertaste.

Today, no unpleasant taste, but did have a strange taste.

Makushi roast beans and supply The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop.

Cappuccino from The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop lacks the strange taste, though their preparation of the coffee slightly different, also use a different machine, and one shot not two.

Something that needs further investigation.

Prices are a little on the high side, £2-80 for a cappuccino, £5 for a bowl of soup.

Makushi is located half way up Steep Hill. Below where once was the excellent Readers Rest, sadly no more. The two would have complimented each other.

The strange name? Apparently Makushi is the name of a tribe in the Amazon, who the owner, who I met and complimented for the work on the building,  had spent time with learning survival skills, and with had his first experience of coffee.

The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop

January 20, 2017

The world’s smallest coffee shop.

Never wise to make a claim that may not be true, but certainly small.

I had a chat with the young lad running this little coffee shop earlier in the week, and promised him I would be back to try his coffee.

I have of late been trying out some of the indie coffee shops in Lincoln, but can end up having undrinkable coffee, as with The Angel Coffee House, so earlier in the week I played safe and had a coffee in Stokes on High Bridge, always a wise choice, and I was not disappointed, I had an excellent cappuccino.

Today it was the turn of The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop.

Strictly speaking a tricycle, to provide a platform upon which everything is mounted, in the tradition of ice cream vendors.

A grotty shopping centre is not where I would expect to find good coffee. Shopping centres are the haunt of chains like Costa and tax-dodging Starbucks. Were it not for the fact we had a chat earlier in the week and I knew from where he sourced his coffee, I would not have even tried.

But life is full of surprises.

A kiosk on Guildford Station, is an unlikely place for quality coffee.

The lad knows his stuff, and has a range of coffee methods, maybe too many for a little stall.

Pleasantly surprised, an excellent cappuccino. I would prefer not to have in a takeaway cup, as never does good coffee justice, but needs must.

It is always  pleasure to have a good coffee.  Not on a par with Stokes on High Bridge or Coffee Aroma, but nevertheless excellent. With improvement, a possible contender for inclusion in Northern England Independent Coffee Guide when the third edition is published.

My only criticism, a little weak, maybe use two shots not one, and £2-80 is far too expensive for a cappuccino off a stall, making it one of the most expensive coffees in Lincoln.

The beans are sourced from Makushi, and that was my other reason for wishing to try. I had a coffee from Makushi, an excellent cappuccino, but it had an unpleasant taste, that left an unpleasant aftertaste. Why I do not know. I doubt the barista or the machine which left the beans.  And yet, excellent cappuccino, curiouser and curiouser.  It could be different batch of beans.

Earlier I walked up Steep Hill as far as the Bookstop Cafe, but no time to go all the way to the top, otherwise no time for a coffee when I got back down.

I was shocked to hear that the lovely Olde Worlde bookshop was closing. Driven out by a hike in the rent.

After my coffee, a quick chat in Coffee Aroma.

On leaving, my bag broke, scattering shopping in the street.

Many thanks to the girl with the toddler in a buggie, who helped me gather it all up. And to the lady who insisted I must have her M&S bag to put in all my shopping.

Cappuccino in Henry’s

January 9, 2017

Henry’s is a relatively new tea shop, situated on the first floor of Ruddocks.

It has been there a couple of years or more, I had looked in when first opened, but never sampled the coffee.

Habit of always taking a coffee in Stokes and not venturing further afield.

Last year I tried Coffee Aroma, and this year decided to try a few more of the indie coffee shops in Lincoln. Last week I tried Makushi Coffee House, halfway up Steep Hill.

As I passed by Stokes, very tempting, even more temping to visit Coffee Aroma, but no must keep my resolve, and so Henry’s it was.

Ruddocks is not where you’d expect to find a tea shop, a stationers cum bookshop cum art supplies. Or at least was once a bookshop, now sells newspapers and magazines, a very retrograde step. There used to be a very up-market art shop top end of the High Street, Gadsby’s, but sadly no more. Strange as Lincoln has an art college, or did. Ruddocks is also a printer and publisher.

Ambience in Henry’s very agreeable, a 1930’s feel, almost expect to look out the window and see the Brown Shirts marching past. Or maybe they simply opened it as it was. Music from the period playing.

Sadly my cappuccino did not live up to the promise of the ambience or the price.

At £2-90 I expect quality. It was undrinkable. When a cappuccino does not look good appearance usually not deceptive, it was not good. Not the disgusting undrinkable yuk they serve in Costa, Caffe Nero or tax-dodging Starbucks, but undrinkable nevertheless.

No, you do not add chocolate to a cappuccino. You ask, and even then, use high quality cocoa powder.

The only reason chocolate added, is to hide the fact disgusting coffee.

To be fair it is a tea shop, and to be fair the barista was not there. Whoever prepared the food prepared the coffee.

I inquired as to the coffee beans. Stokes espresso blend. Unless Stokes is supplying rubbish for cafes, then they should be worried the damage this does to their reputation. They should periodically visit places sourcing their coffee, exercise quality control.

The young lady serving made up for the poor quality coffee. She had been doing a coffee course at Stokes and was keen to learn more. But training only takes you so far. She needs to work alongside top quality baristas.

Henry’s is not any time soon going to make it into Northern England Independent Coffee Guide.

On leaving Ruddocks, I found Stokes coffee beans on sale. How old, and the last place would think of looking for coffee beans. Obvious place to sell would be on the counter in Henry’s. And to be sure of freshly roasted, buy from Stokes. Though Stokes fail to put the roast date, a major omission, and Stokes should know better.

Passing by Stokes on may way up, not busy. Passing by Coffee Aroma on my way back down, packed.

Passing through The Stonebow, a young guy playing an acoustic guitar. Not bad, especially compared with the rubbish usually found on the street in Lincoln. I picked up a free CD.

Popped into Waterstone’s High Street. When last week, I went to pick up a copy of The Spy I had ordered, I actually did not, I asked for two copies, which they collected from upstairs. Was it still there? No, but I showed then the reference code, they checked, and yes, should have been collected. I picked up two at £6-50, full price £12-99, thus getting two copies for one pence better than half price.

A sticker ‘Just 12-99’ is deliberately misleading, as that is the price, but gives the false impression getting a reduction.

To download the e-book is a blatant rip-off Kobo £9-49, Amazon Kindle £9-49 and Google Play £9-49.

I picked up another free CD off Sam Harrison busking in The Stonebow. Gave him my small change. I said put on bandcamp. He said people find him on spotify. Yes, only because you send people there. Do not encourage people to use a platform like spotify that screws musicians big time. Send to bandcamp where everyone gets a good deal. He agreed, sound advice, especially if people had picked up a free CD, they may then pay him some money.

I picked up a copies of Rain & Voices from the Sky by Sam Harrison and the Society of Strange Living. Not yet found its way onto bandcamp.

Cappuccino in Makushi Coffee House

January 5, 2017

Half way up Steep Hill can be found Makushi Coffee House. A new coffee shop, it was not there a year ago.

Inside very agreeable environment. A knowledgeable barista.

From the outside, it does not look much. Not so inside.

Whitewashed walls, stonework poking through, wood. At the rear a room with a solid wooden table and seats, further in a stone vaulted room, more upstairs, and upstairs a coffee roaster. Also upstairs a door leading to a terrace, but not open. It will be pleasant to enjoy a coffee in the summer, but please do not allow smoking.

Cappuccino was excellent, but, it had a somewhat unpleasant  taste, which then lingered as an aftertaste.

I doubt lack of skill of the barista or machine. Barista had worked before at Coffee Aroma and talking to him he knew what he was talking about.

I suspect the roasting. Makushi roast their own beans, and roasting requires more skill that brewing coffee.

More inquiries are needed.

On the counter bags of their own roast beans. And had roast date, roasted the day before, 4 January 2017.  I would though disagree with their enjoy by 4 March 2017. I would have put 4 February 2017. One week to let the oils adjust following roasting, then three weeks beans at their optimum. But full marks for roast date and recently roasted beans.  Contrast with Stokes, who somewhat surprising, do not put roast date, but do put best by which is meaningless.

Apart from roast date, also told you something about the beans, their origin.

Every bean has a story to tell. I am surprised rarely seen told. Not only on the bags, but also a chalkboard telling the story of the coffee served.

Chatting to a charming young lady, she said she played the flute. I probably made her late.

I suggested, why not have recitals in the coffee shop? Better still, get hold of some decent recording equipment, someone who knows how to record and master, release on bandcamp. At least release if good. But always record. Can always throw away if not good, but cannot record what has been and gone.

I suggested she checked out Agnes Obel and Berlin Live session of The Curse with looping.

The strange name? Apparently Makushi is the name of a tribe in the Amazon, who the owner, who I did not meet, had spent time with learning survival skills, and with had his first experience of coffee.

Makushi is in a former tea shop, which has been derelict for years, or if not, it always had that appearance as I never found it open.

Makushi Coffee House is next to and below what was Readers Rest, now a tacky beauty parlour. What a pity Readers Rest no more, it was an excellent second hand bookshop and the two would have complimented each other.

Many are opening coffee shops, jumping on the bandwagon. Few have  a clue about coffee.

Lincoln is unusual, for its size it has a lot of indie coffee shops, and few chains serving their disgusting undrinkable coffee. This is mainly due to Stokes, a fourth generation family business.

Now we are a seeing, with Coffee Aroma and Makusihi a new generation of indie coffee shops, where great care is taken over the coffee.

I can see Makushi Coffee House being added to Northern England Independent Coffee Guide when the third edition is published, or an oversight if not. It was a major oversight Stokes never made it into the first edition.

On my way up, I would have looked in the cheese shop in The Strait, only not there, now a deli, and he said he would not be there long, as bad for trade.

Sincil Street would be ideal, create as it was, indie shops, but the local council and Coop seem determined to trash the area with a shopping centre and sky high rents, the area once busy, now blighted with boarded-up shops. .

I was always surprised the cheese shop opened, when they have a shop and restaurant around the corner.

I was going to collect something from the deli on my way back down, but already closed.

Popped into the cheese shop and picked up Cornish yarg.

Then I remembered, a book to collect from Waterstone’s in the High Street.

The Spy marked Just £12-99, implying a reduction. It is not reduced. Order from Amazon at £6-50 (but pay postage unless over £10). Order from Waterstone’s on-line. pay £6-50 and collect in-store. I picked up two copies. In the Cornhill, there is a chalk board, order on line, have a coffee (no thanks Caffe Nero), then collect your order.

Cost of e-books is zero. The Spy, download from Kobo £9-49, Google £9-49, Amazon £9-49. When price of an e-book exceeds that of a hardback, for The Spy nearly 50% more, something is seriously wrong. Readers are being ripped off big time.  To download an e-book should be no more than a pound.

Cappuccino in Stokes on High Bridge

January 3, 2017
Stokes on High Bridge

Stokes on High Bridge

Excellent cappuccino in Stokes on High Bridge but easy to see why these days when I pass by, not busy.

Two lads who I have not seen before, standing by to guide to a table.

Then at least a five minutes wait if not longer, to take my order.

I popped back later, as I walked in, I asked for a cappuccino.

No, we have table service.

I contrast with Coffee Aroma, prompt service and the coffee better.

And I am not one of those who wishes rapid coffee. I am quite happy for a barista to take their time so long as I get excellent coffee.

Nor am I saying cappuccino not good in Stokes. Cappuccino excellent, but Coffee Aroma has the edge.

On the counter Guatemala coffee beans organic and FairTrade, though no logo for either.

But no roast date.

I checked other coffee beans. No roast date.

Best by is absolutely meaningless.

I asked the girl, and she told me they had been roasted the week before.

I asked how did she know?

Either she or or colleague had roasted in-store.

Fair enough, but they should write the roast date on the bags.

And she had no idea why roast date was important.

Stokes are expert coffee roasters and should know better.

Their staff are usually well informed on coffee.

The high standards which set Stokes apart are slipping.

Any coffee connoisseur seeing no roast date and not knowing Stokes, would simply assume, unless they made further inquiries, that they know nothing about coffee.

Stokes have two coffee shops in Lincoln, plus a warehouse where they roast coffee. They are featured in the second edition of Northern England Independent Coffee Guide, which surprisingly they do not  have on sale.

Stokes on High Bridge, a long established family business, in an Elizabethan building, on a Norman Bridge over the River Witham flowing through the centre of Lincoln, is one of the top coffee shops in the country. But Stokes need to up their game, as whereas  others are innovating  Stokes appears to be going backwards.

Cappuccino in Coffee Aroma

December 29, 2016

Excellent cappuccino in Coffee Aroma.

A somewhat surly guy doing pour over. Not one of the usual baristas who are always very pleasant and friendly and only too happy to discuss their coffee.

High Street packed. Even top of High Street, which is unusual.