Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Coffee Depot

April 19, 2022

It takes more than decour to create a coffee shop. The most important, the coffee, neglected. Cheap crap catering supply coffee from Lincoln Tea and Coffee, does not a coffee shop make.

A classic example of spoiling the ship for a ha’porth of tar.

Interior pleasant ambience, chairs, the tables, walls, lighting, but then ruined by serving cheap crap catering supply coffee from Lincoln Tea and Coffee, a company that sells bagged coffee, black over-roasted oily beans. Cheap low quality catering supply coffee that goes to greasy spoon cafes where they don’t care what they buy or serve, so long as it is cheap. It is not what a coffee shop worthy of the name that cares about its reputation would serve, or what any self-respecting barista passionate about coffee would touch with a bargepole.

Watch in any speciality coffee shop, coffee is ground fresh for each cup, weighed on accurate digital scales. At the end of the day the beans emptied from the hopper, stored in an airtight container, the burrs in the grinders cleaned.

There is a reason for this. Precision matters. Coffee beans are fragile, easily damaged by light, easy to oxidise, leaving stale beans. Once a bag of coffee beans opened, will go stale within a week. Once ground, will oxidise within minutes.

It says everything need to know about the coffee supplier, that they supply ground coffee, even worse claim it will last a year.

I ordered a cappuccino. Not good, cup size too large, chocolate added.

First impressions, not good.

Chocolate is never added to a cappuccino, there is only one size for a cappuccino, the correct size.

I took it back. Asked for no chocolate and the correct size cup.

What came back was so so. That it was drinkable, due credit to the barista. To be able to to produce a barely drinkable coffee from the poor quality beans is a credit to the barista. I left untouched after a few sips.

Seating outside, illegally obstructing a public highway. The risk, parents with a buggy forced into the road or worse, a disability scooter topples the rider into the road under a lorry. Why would anyone wish to sit outside breathing in traffic fumes?

The location is poor. On a busy main road, polluted, ten minute walk along the Brayford from the city centre. [see below directions from the city centre, the scenic route]

The coffee shop has potential, Ideally needs better equipment, better grinder, better espresso machine.

Throw out the ugly cups. And use correct cup size.

As a matter of top priority and urgency, ditch the rubbish coffee beans. There is absolutely no excuse for using cheap crap beans, especially not when we are spoilt for choice with roasteries that care about coffee, know what they are doing, take a pride in what they are doing.


– Seven Districts
– Two Chimps
– Cartwheel Coffee
– Outpost Coffee

Then we are spoilt for choice for guest coffee

– Coffee Gems
– Mad Heads

Mad Heads are in Kyiv, still operational, and can ship coffee to the UK. Exceptional coffee, and would be helping Ukraine. There are no import duties (Ukraine is not in the EU).

Ten minutes walk from the city centre. Twenty minutes out of a day. Maybe for exceptional coffee, only they are not serving expetional coffee. If wish for exceptional coffee have Coffee Aroma and Madame Waffle in the city centre. If wish for bad coffee have greasy spoon cafes and corporate chains.

Only one thing worse than serving bad coffee. An attitude that we know we are serving bad coffee but we can get away with it.

My visit it was busy, but not when I looked in following weeks. I learnt later there was an opening offer when I paid a visit.

Students have coffee shops on campus. Only there six months of the year.

Difficult to see will survive.

Directions: From the High Street walk down the side of Stokes on High Bridge, along the River Witham, alongside Brayford Pool, along Fossdyke, under a bridge, turn right to the end of the street, the Coffee Depot opposite. About a ten minutes walk.

Ethiopian coffee ceremony

April 16, 2022

Wandering around Finsbury, down a side street opposite Finsbury Park, I passed by JoJo an Ethiopian coffee shop. Inside the door tiny cups on a table and the brewing pot made from clay called a jebena, which is filled with hot freshly roasted ground beans and water and brought to a boil over a fire.

I could not resist. I walked in and asked of Ethiopian coffee ceremony.

I sat by the door and waited.

A young woman brought a large saucepan, which she wafted around, smoke billowing from the coffee beans. I assumed mixed with hot charcoal. She did not say, no explanation or commentary provided.

These were taken away.

Next a jebena, and what was incense, I only know because I asked. And popcorn.

Coffee poured from a height, aimed into a tiny cup.

Enough for the dregs in a second cup.

I was told it was for two people.

I expected very strong coffee. I was pleasantly surprised to find not, more like an excellent pour over with floral notes.

Sadly a travesty of Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony. No explanation or commentary of what was happening. I had to occasionally prompt. How, for example, were the beans ground? At a guess with a pestle and mortar, but I do not know, as I did not ask.

Whilst I enjoyed the experience, enjoyed the coffee, I was nevertheless disappointed.

London Coffee has an essay on Ethiopian Coffee Ceremony, with an explanation.

Rare Coffee World Tour

April 4, 2022

Passing by Imperial Teas a couple of weeks ago, my eye was caught by a box Rare Coffee World Tour on display in their window.

Let’s take a look at what is inside the box.

Jamaican Blue Mountain a decade or so ago was noteworthy as an interesting coffee. But not anymore, the world has moved on.

If wish to try Jamaican Blue Mountain, take a walk up Steep Hill, walk through the Castle grounds, out through the West Gate to Stokes at the Lawn where will find Jamaican Blue Mountain. What is interesting about this coffee, shipped in wooden barrels not sacks. At Stokes at The Lawn they have the barrels on display.

Tanzanian Blue Mountain from Coffee Link, use code Blue at checkout for 20% discount. From Mringa Estate located not far from Mount Kilimanjaro. The lower slopes of the mountain, provide fertile soil, with the climate providing excellent conditions for the coffee trees to grow. Very similar to Kenyan coffee but finishing on a much lighter acidity.

Last year, I was tempted to buy Panama Esmeralda Geisha from Imperial Teas, very expensive. I immediately regretted my foolhardy purchase. Clueless on roasting. The beans were over roasted, the beans destroyed.

A vile trade in Kopi Luwak. Wild civet cats are kept in battery cages, force fed coffee beans. Anyone participating in this vile trade should be driven out of businesses.

The cost of what appears to be one cup tasters not known. If beans, would need more than sufficient for one cup to get correct grind size. Begs the question when roasted? If ground beans, will be stale oxidised beans.

If wish to try rare exceptional coffee, try from reputable roateries, not tea merchants.

Colonna release rare coffees, as does Kiss the Hippo, Also try April and Mad Heads.

Coffee Gems, high Q grade, Cup of Excellence, visits the farms.

Pho at Coco Tang

March 29, 2022

Previous week, a cappuccino at Coco Tang. A week on I thought try the food. Compared with my previous visit, a grave disappointment.

Lunchtime, packed. I wandered off to Kigali, had a coffee, returned mid-afternoon, now empty.

Pho, Vietnamese soup, not to be confused with Pho a corporate chain serving fake Vietnamese street food coupled with poor service and high staff turnover.

A long wait from taking my order. A very large bowl of soup, slivers of beef, noodles, with a side dish of red hot chilli peppers and bean sprouts and a couple of leaves.

Only when my soup bowl was taken away, did the waitress tell me what I thought was a side dish, was meant to be added to the soup. Why would I add a cold side dish to hot soup, why was I not told this at the time it was delivered to my table?

The slices of red hot chile pepper on the side plate, were not deseeded, hence very hot, but I was not warned. Contrast with Paste, nearby Thai restaurant, where they do warn.

Pho ok, but at the end of the day a bowl of soup, albeit a large bowl of soup. £10-50 for a bowl of soup.

I followed with a cappuccino. A disappointment compared with what I had the previous week.

I looked at the cocktails, £10 for an espresso martini, using poor quality coffee liquor.

To add insult to injury, 10% service charge sneaked onto my bill. Discretionary. No, it is not discretionary if added to my bill without my consent. And for what, a bowl of soup and a coffee brought to my table.?

To put in context, a three course lunch at Paste, less than a tenner. Or excellent lunch at Ugly Bread Bakery for a fraction of the price.

A very disappointing visit.

Ukraine coffee in times of war

March 28, 2022

One month on from Putin’s attack on Ukraine, slowly slowly in Kyiv, life is returning to normal, if can count as normal the outskirts of the city shelled, people who fled are returning to the city, markets are open, coffee shops are open, roasteriers are functioning.

Dating from the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution and the start of Russian aggression, the Ukrainian coffee scene has been on a steady rise. Up to the coronavirus pandemic Ukraine was leading the charts in new coffee places openings, as evidenced by the Project Cafe 2020 Europe a report by the Allegra Group.

Ukraine was represented at the World Barista Championships with Slava Babych taking the Cezve-Ibrik title in 2018; and, more importantly, the local roasteries were growing in Kyiv and all over the country. 

Yellow Place one of the flagship Kyiv coffee shops still operational.

Also operational, Mad Heads, a roastery I met at the Limassol Coffee Festival, excellent coffee.

Sprudge featured Mad Heads [see Coffee Is Fueling The Resistance In Ukraine]

mad heads vradii 7 ukraine copy

Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy could use a cup of joe. He’s been the unifying force his country needed the moment Russia launched a full-scale, multiple fronts invasion of Europe’s largest country. Zelenskyy’s case is the very definition of rising to the occasion, as illustrated by the 90+ percent approval rating he enjoys in Ukraine and the global media coverage. What drives his team in these unprecedented times? Ukrainian specialty coffee by the local Kyiv roastery Mad Heads Coffee Roasters.

There’s only so much you can do to help when your country is being invaded by a foreign adversary, says Mad Heads co-founder Artem Vradii. For the coffee community, it means delivering fresh brew to the armed forces, emergency services, and hospitals. Oh, and you can also provide coffee to keep the president of your country (and the current leader of free world) energized.

Vradii says that the Ukrainian’s Office of the President (think the White House of Ukraine) asked Mad Heads to provide coffee for Zelenskyy’s team. “There’s lots of people working through the sleepless nights there. That was clear enough after we sent them most of our coffee and 1,500-1,800 drip coffee bags,” he says. The next time they reached out Mad Heads also sent all the milk and branded metal cups they had at the roastery.

mad heads vradii 1 ukraine copy

There’s no way of knowing if Zelenskyy specifically is the one to enjoy specialty coffee but Vradii certainly hopes so. “I just imagine him drinking Mad Heads coffee from our cup when I go to sleep. I never asked but that’s what makes me feel better,” he says. He had a chance to communicate with the president’s staff though: “I just asked if [Zelenskyy] feels the support he’s been getting from all over the country. And they said that he definitely does, in fact that’s what keeps him going in these trying times.”

What motivates Vradii’s team is trying to help the country in any way they can. “Admittedly for the first days of war we just froze. You just don’t know what to do when your country’s suddenly at war. But then we started to find some ways to help. These days I can go to sleep only if I feel I’ve done something helpful,” says Vradii, responsible for the coffee that helped Ukrainian Slava Babych win the 2018 World Cezve-Ibrik Championship in Dubai.

The logistics system Mad Heads has in place makes it possible to provide coffee to numerous Ukrainian army checkpoints, hospitals, and volunteer centers. And they continue to deliver coffee to the cafes still open in Kyiv that are providing free coffee to the citizens that decided to stay in the city. “We have 30 or so points of delivery in Kyiv now. It’s harder to reach out to our clients all over the country but we try to anyway,” Vradii adds.

It’s not only the president’s team that prefers Mad Heads coffee. Vradii smiles when he tells the story of one of the Territorial Defenses units that defend Kyiv now. “They said, ‘Guys we have lots of coffee here but it’s all Lavazza. That’s fine, we’re not complaining. But if you have some of your good stuff please send it to us.’” Of course Mad Heads did. There’s no way Russian occupying forces have specialty coffee delivered to them in trenches, adds Vradii cheerfully.

I had a chat with Mad Heads last week (use Telegram for security), yes, they confirmed, we are still operational and yes, we can deliver coffee outside Ukraine, the Postal service is operational.

Please place an order. Chat with your local indie specialty coffee shop. Suggest Mad Heads as a guest coffee. And if anyone using disgusting Nespresso (owned by Nestle, trading in Russia), order Mad Heads coffee capsules (I can recommend their Colombian coffee).

Nestlé chocolate

March 27, 2022

With added bitterness of Putin’s war crimes.

No surprise Nestlé refusal to pull out of Russia, Nestlé ranks as one of the world’s most evil corporations.

Nestlé not the only Western corporation refusing to pull out of Russia.

  • M&S
  • Burger King
  • Subway
  • Total

Find Nespresso shops in your locality. Leave 1* review on Google maps that Nestlé trading in Russia, complicit Putin’s war crimes.

In Russia, find Nespresso outlets on Google maps, leave a 1* review of Putin’s war crimes.

Note: Please do not review Putin’s war crimes on indie business in Russia, it will endanger them. The Truth in Russia a criminal offence, fifteen years in prison.

For Total, a French oil company with major stake in a Russian oil company, write a 1* review on TrustPilot.

If have a friend using vile undrinkable Nespresso, treat them to coffee from Mad Heads, excellent coffee.

Chocolate, treat yourself to bean-to-bar craft chocolate.

Coco Tang Vietnamese coffee shop

March 22, 2022

I had passed by Coco Tang many weeks ago when I took a wrong street, noticed a Japanese syphon.

Some  weeks later, after a coffee at Cartwheel, I paid a visit.

My expectations not high, I expected a Vietnamese restaurant serving bad coffee. I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

It is always a pleasant surprise to stumble across an excellent coffee shop. In many ways a surprise no one has ever mentioned Coco Tang to me.

I stayed and had a chat, but not a coffee, as I lacked the time, not yet had lunch.

Later after lunch at Ugly Bread Bakery and a flying visit to Kigal I returned.

From the outside, tiny, inside a veritable rabbit warren.

A beautiful roof top garden. But please,No Smoking.

Down in the basement, a bar. There was also a bar behind the coffee shop.

On walking in, V60, Vietnamese pour over, EK43 grinder, an impressive custom made 3-group head Slayer espresso machine from Seattle (of which are justifiably proud). At the rear, tucked in a corner past the bar, a Giessen W6 roaster, on the floor sacks of green beans.

After a good look around I was handed a coffee menu, a little booklet with pictures of the various coffees served.

I chose a cappuccino. It was excellent.

I left with a bag of their house blend. Happy Valley Espresso Blend – Burundi -Kayanza – Ethiopia -Yirgacheffe – D.R. Congo – North Kivu, rich body, fruity, chocolate notes.

Everyone I spoke to went out of their way to be helpful.

My only criticism, in an otherwise impressive establishment, was storage and sale of the coffee beans. Stored in glass jars, exposed to light and exposed to oxygen each time the jar opened. There needs to be information on the provenance of the beans. This could be a postcard.

I can see a return visit to try the food, as unlike Pho (a corporate chain serving fake Vietnamese street food) the food authentic.

Roastworks dodgy instagram competition

March 6, 2022

A data collection exercise masquerading as a competition.

generating traffic for instagram

  • owned by facebook
  • facebook business model steal and abuse personal data
  • complicit teen and pre-teen self-harm and suicide
  • claim ownership of pictures posted

generating data for instagram

  • never games quiz survey competition
  • never tag

Permission not granted to tag.

not a competition

  • Ernest Journal
  • plastic V60 pour over
  • bag of coffee

A competition would be for example, post a picture on twitter with a hash tag.

This is nothing other than a crude data collection exercise.

journals worth reading

  • Standart
  • Drift
  • Kennedy
  • Brygg
  • Ernest ?

Ernest I have never encountered, though I like the concept, slow journalism. Should they care to send me a couple of copies, incl Issue One, Collectors edition, I will be happy to review.

Quality journals and magazines I used to find in Ideas on Paper, sadly no more, it closed around Christmas.

Roastworks coffee

I have never tried Roastworks coffee, at least not their coffee beans.

I have tried their capsules. Not great, but if compare with what find on supermarket shelves, one of the better ones.  Anything better than Nespresso.


Contrast the behaviour of Roastworks with that of Lush.

Lush have pulled the plug on instagram, not an ethical place to be.

That is the difference between an ethical company and one that is not.


Always know when a company is engaging in dodgy practices. Blocked from Roastworks instagram account. Methinks did not like their dodgy practices exposed.

I recommend do not buy coffee from this roastery. If happy to abuse user’s data, then do not touch with a bargepole. There are many excellent roasteries out there.

Espresso martini at The Curiosity Shop

February 17, 2022

I have passed by The Curiosity Shop at the top end of Lincoln High Street, but never passed through the door. Closing in two days time on Saturday. It was Thursday, two days before it closed, and it was raining,  I thought I would take a look inside.

A cocktail bar, the interior belies the frontage.

An espresso martini. How made, espresso?

OK I will have one, and the barman kindly talked me through.

Slightly baffled, no sign of an espresso machine.

A bottle is produced. Contents? Espresso.

Freshly made this morning. It is late afternoon. I am horrified.

A bottle of vodka. Absolut Vanilla. Vanilla flavoured cheap vodka. Yuk.

Coffee liquor. Mr Black? No, far too expensive.

Champagne coupe. Not chilled. No ice.

A good job of shaking.

Injury. £7-50. Ouch.

The taste? Overpowering flavour of vanilla. It was not good.

A sign outside said coffee, though no sign of an espresso machine. The coffee, I do not know, did not ask, but if poor quality coffee, would explain the vanilla flavoured vodka to mask the taste of poor quality coffee, cf syrups in greasy spoon cafes and corporate coffee chains, or chocolate dumped on a cappuccino for the same reason, to hide the bad state of bad coffee.

Grind warn of the experience of poor quality espresso martini. That was my experience of The Curiosity Shop.

We’d had Espresso Martinis before they’re a classic but back then we didn’t realize how many corners were being cut in making them, even in the best places. You see, keeping a proper coffee machine clean and running is a lot of work, and even with the best intentions, standards can slip. After Espresso Martinis were invented in the ’90s, bars first tried using bottled espresso – a pretty miserable fate for coffee. Before long, all sorts of grisly concoctions of E-number flavourings and preservatives were being used. So by the time 2011 came around, even the places we had trusted for a good drink were serving something a far throw from what we imagine genius bartender Dick Bradsell had invented all those years ago. But we didn’t know any of that yet.

The barman was helpful, explained what he was doing, and then wrote out his recipe.

  • 25 ml vodka Absolut Vanilla
  • 25 ml coffee liquor Kahlúa
  • 50 ml espresso

He may have added a little sugar syrup, though Kahlúa coffee liquor is sweet and sugar syrup not necessary (unless again trying to mask bad coffee).

When he created an espresso martini, Dick Bradsell used Kahlúa but that was what was available, the world has moved on, would use Mr Black or a liquor of similar quality.

Note difference in price on Amazon 70 cl

  • Kahlúa – £12-00
  • Mr Black – £29-52

Contrast with The Grind espresso martini as served in their coffee shops and featured in the Grind book.

  • 40 ml vodka
  • 20 ml simple sugar syrup
  • 25 ml espresso Grind house blend

I have changed sugar syrup to agave syrup.

  • 40 ml vodka
  • 13 ml organic agave syrup
  • 25 ml espresso Grind house blend

A couple of days layer, Saturday afternoon, last day, they have to be out by Thursday.

I was going to inquire of the Steampunk paraphernalia in the window, but sadly the windows already stripped. As I walked in I noticed an espresso machine tucked around the corner. Very busy, noisy, but not packed. More staff, who were wearing facemasks. I asked of the coffee. Stokes, a local roastery. It could have been worse, Lincoln Tea and Coffee, vile undrinkable coffee, black oily over-roasted broken beans or catering supply coffee. Did I wish for a coffee? No thanks. I then left and walked down to Madame Waffle for a coffee, as I did two days before.

The Grind espresso martini

February 12, 2022

My first attempt at espresso martini was an improvisation using an e-coffee cup in lieu of a cocktail shaker. Not a great success.

This my first real attempt with a two-piece Boston shaker and a Hawthorne strainer.

The Grind espresso martini

  • 40 ml vodka
  • 20 ml simple sugar syrup
  • 25 ml espresso

I have modified that from Grind, substituting agave syrup for the sugar syrup. Agave syrup one and a half times as sweet, thus need less for same level of sweetness. Martini glass instead of Champagne coupe.

  • 40 ml vodka
  • 13 ml organic agave syrup
  • 25 ml espresso


  • sugar – sucrose
  • agave syrup – glucose fructose

Agave syrup a big improvement. Shaker and strainer and different glass may have made a difference other than visual.

Larger ice cubes used and for the ice use water used for coffee not tap water.

The Grind espresso martini served at Grind and featured in the Grind book.

I am not impressed by the Grind house blend as espresso, but works well in espresso martini.

The closest I have come to the espresso martini made for me by cocktail maestro Stasi Apostolou at The Third Room. I filmed the making of, but stupid me neglected to hit record.

Note: For the pedantic, yes I know extraction from a Grind capsule using an Opal One is not an espresso but it is a good approximation to make an espresso martini.

Amos Owens moonshine a very smooth vodka. Batch 1 bottle 233.

Espresso martini create by Dick Bradsell in the late 1980s.

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