Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Tarrant Street Espresso

August 3, 2018

In Arundel, we look in a few coffee shops, catering supply coffee.

We find Tarrant Street Espresso. It is closed. It is a little after 3-30.  What sort of place is this? He closes at four, but today early. We make do with a takeaway. For Square Mile Red Brick espresso blend it is a disappointment. The coffee shop more of a kiosk.

Best of a bad bunch.

Coffee shops serving catering supply coffee. Could get away with this five years ago, not today with discerning coffee drinkers.

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Pharmacie

July 29, 2018

I first came across Pharmacie, a small coffee roastery in Hove, when I came across their coffee as guest coffee in Flat Whites Coffee Shop in Winchester.

I decided to pay them a visit. Hence the reason for finding myself in Brighton on a Saturday when I would usually visit on a Sunday.

What I did not expect was the long trek to Hove.

I was looking forward to a pleasant walk along the seafront, but instead found myself battling a gale force wind.

First though, after an excellent lunch at Iydea in North Laine, a cappuccino from Brass Monkey, an ice cream parlour. I had learnt from my last visit to Brighton early June they would be serving coffee from Pharmacie.

The cappuccino was not good, neither was the ice cream, honey and lavender.  Not a good sign.  On the other hand the person who served the coffee, not a clue on coffee, served too hot. It makes the point, if care about the reputation of your coffee, take care to where you supply.

It had been windy. I assumed would be sheltered walking along the seafront.  Quite the opposite. A gale blowing from the south-west.

The seafront at Hove is ugly. A wide monotonous expanse of tarmac that goes on for ever. The monotony only broken by a Victorian Bandstand, a sculpture entitled Constellation and painted sheds, otherwise known as beach huts. People pay a small fortune for one of these sheds, to sit in and stare at the sea.

Past the sheds, I head inland.

It is far far further than I thought to walk to Pharmacie. I arrive at a quarter to four, fifteen minutes before they close.

Pharmacie is located in an old cobbled mews. One side used to be stables, the other side housed the carriages.

Pharmacie is housed in one of the old stables, a coffee shop and roastery.

I am the only customer.  Apparently they are busy in the morning.

I order a cappuccino. It is excellent.

I only wish time fora V60, a cold brew.

A guy brings in a Swiss roll he has made. He offers me a slice. I am reluctant to accept as no fan of Swiss roll. I find it is excellent. Very tasty, my only regret I declined a larger slice.

He later offers me chocolate coated coffee beans, which he has also made.

I buy beans, roasted that morning, single origin from Colombia and Ethiopia. I am given a tote bag to carry away my four bags of beans.

I query the packaging. Can be recycled, the average coffee bag cannot as a composite structure.

The bags have details of the beans, how processed, the farm they came from.

When meet coffee roasters who can tell you nothing of their beans, offer light, medium or dark roast for the same beans, have beans so over-roasted they are black and oily, have roasted beans in open hessian sacks on a stall at 30C or at the same temperature in bags in the midday day sun, or can tell you nothing of the provenance of the beans, where they were roasted, who lack any respect for the beans they are selling, then look elsewhere.

Sadly I have met several charlatans this month alone who are a disgrace to the coffee industry.

Sitting in the corner a large coffee roaster,  Geisen. Maybe the same model I saw at Edgcumbes Coffee the previous week.

I pick up latest Caffeine and what I have not seen before, The Independent Brighton & Hove Coffee Guide, an independent guide to coffee shops in Brighton and Hove. It is stressed it is genuinely independent, the coffee shops have not paid to be listed. Contrast with The North and North Wales Independent Coffee Guide which is a blatant scam, coffee shops pay £500 for a listing and write their own entry.

I would have liked to have tried a V60, maybe a cold brew, but arrived too late and they were wishing to close.

I head back down to the seafront for the long trek back to Brighton.

Interesting villas line the street, as did the road I walked up. A few appear to be single residence, many have been converted to flats, a few are hotels.

I pass Small Batch, look in, but no time to stop for a coffee.

As I approach the road that runs along the seafront I am nearly blown off my feet. It is now worse than before.

Pharmacie is four people with long experience in coffee, including a Master Coffee Roaster. Contrast with the many coffee roasteries established by people with no experience of coffee let alone coffee roasting.

Pharmacie is only open on a Saturday. On the first Saturday of the month they add a food truck.

Their tweets often make little sense, and posting pictures to twitter via Instagram is pointless as the pictures not visible on twitter.

Yes, it is possible to walk from Brighton along the seafront, and in the absence of a gale, would be a pleasant walk, otherwise Hove Station is close by.

Union Hand-Roasted Coffee supply coffee to British Airways

July 24, 2018

Union Hand-Roasted Coffee are supplying coffee to British Airways for serving from automated machines in airport lounges and by stewards on their flights.

This is is not good news, indeed it is very bad news.

It is not good news if care about coffee, if Union care about their reputation, if care about the planet.

Global warming is killing coffee. The only people who will be able to afford coffee, the 1%, the very same people sitting in airport lounges pontificating on the delights of Union coffee being served by British Airways, now BA as not British owned.

Aviation is one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gases. Does Union really wish their name to be linked to a major climate polluter?

In the northern hemisphere we are seeing record high temperatures this summer. This is not the new norm, this is the beginning of relentless rise in global temperatures as climate change kicks in.

How are Union to explain to the poor farmers when their crops fail due to rising temperatures that they were a willing party?

Supply coffee to other than speciality coffee shops harms the reputation of Union. On the other hand, if profit is the driving motive, then maybe a good deal.

Union supply coffee to Waitrose. On the shelf can be found coffee at least two months old. If lucky, only a month old.

Union supply coffee to Gail’s Bakery. The coffee at Gail’s Farnham is undrinkable.

Clifton Coffee supply coffee to Cosy Club. A corporate chain of fake 1930s bars, so fake a parody of fake. The coffee served in Cosy Club Guildford is undrinkable.

Jamie Oliver has a coffee kiosk at Gatwick serving Italian corporate brand coffee, barely drinkable coffee. A tragedy. With many excellent coffee roasteries locally the coffee kiosk could be used to showcase excellent local coffee.

If care about reputational damage, take care where supply coffee.

Yet one of life’s ironies, Grocer and Grain in Brighton, the owner passionate about coffee, has a good range of coffee on the shelves, including Union, but that on the shelves not as fresh as could be, he would love to serve Union coffee, but Union will not supply, therefore obtained through a third party, thus that on the shelves not as fresh as he would like it to be.

How not to social media

July 24, 2018

A classic example of how not to by Canopy Coffee.

Pictures posted to twitter via Instagram are not visible on twitter.

Always post pictures direct to twitter, assuming that is the reason for posting pictures to social media is wish pictures to be seen.

Scroll down the Canopy Coffee twitter feed and all that is seen is er, nothing.

It is a reasonable assumption that in posting pictures Canopy Coffee did wish the pictures to be seen, otherwise why go to the trouble of posting.

How not to use social media. Pictures posted to twitter via instagram are not visible on twitter. Always post pictures direct to twitter, assuming that is the reason for posting pictures to social media is wish pictures to be seen.

Edgcumbes Coffee

July 21, 2018

Edgcumbes Coffee is a coffee roaster and tea blender located in a barn middle of nowhere somewhere outside Arundel.

I had tried their coffee, cold brew and a cappuccino off their coffee truck at Draper’s Yard in Chichester. To say the least neither was very good. I was also less than impressed not possible to pay cash.

I decided to pay them a visit. They are not in Arundel, the nearest station Ford, then a trek along country lanes with a risk of being run down.

To get from Chichester where I had lunch at St Martins Coffee House (excellent lunch but awful coffee), it necessitated a change of trains to get to Ford.

Alighting at Ford, I found myself in the middle of nowhere. Walking along the country lanes on a very hot day, I questioned why was doing this, especially as no idea would find them open.

Eventually I located the barn, half a dozen people sat outside in a courtyard, I assumed drinking coffee, though could have been tea.

If people were willing to visit middle of nowhere for a  tea or coffee, then must be worth it.

A large barn one side of the courtyard which housed the roasting operation, on the other side a coffee shop, The Edge Cafe.

I was greeted by a very helpful young man, with which I had an interesting conversation long after they had closed.

He made me a cold brew and a cappuccino. Both were far superior than I had had off their coffee truck in Chichester, good but not as good as Coffee Lab.

I questioned why brew the cold brew for 72 hours, to then water down?

I would have liked to have tried one of their single origins as V60, but the filter papers could not be located.

V60 is a must, maybe also Chemex and Japanese syphon if to showcase their single origin coffee.

I suggested they have a stall on the local farmers market in Chichester, first and second Friday of the month. There is a stall from a local coffee roastery The Crafted Coffee Company, but I was not impressed, coffee beans in the midday sun, the woman manning the stall singularly unhelpful.

If they do obtain a pitch, then use their coffee truck. It will be absence from Draper’s Yard twice a month, but will help publicise Draper’s Yard and help all the excellent indie businesses located there.  It is absolutely essential a skilled barista and someone who knows their beans manning the stall and the van if they wish to showcase their coffee in Chichester.

A quick look at their roastery.

I came away with bags of beans, a sample of tea, and at £7 a very expensive bar of chocolate.

The chocolate I tried when I arrived home. Excellent, but then had to be at £7 a bar.

The beans, a lovely aroma. Four bags of beans neatly fits inside one of their paper carrier bags.

I learnt of The Brewhouse Project, a joint crowdfunded project with Arundel Brewery.

Cupsmith

July 16, 2018

When I came across Cupsmith at the Guildford farmers market I did not know whether to laugh or cry.

I first encountered Cupsmith last year running a stall at Farnham Maltings Christmas Market. The conversation that ensued was to say the least bizarre. If roast the beans, have a stall, at least have someone knowledgeable about the coffee manning the stall. The lady running the stall impressed me with her lack of knowledge of coffee.

To put in context, Workhouse have in their coffee shop, a choice of single origin, blends, I counted 18 different, available to be weighed and bagged. Staff were only too helpful to explain the beans, how roasted, where sourced from, roast date.

Roast date, not on the bag. Roasted the previous day, so at least freshly roasted but would it not be better and no excuse to actually have on the bag? Best by is meaningless.

The lady disagreed. She claimed their customers did not want to know the roast date.

Really, have they been asked, do they know the importance of roast date?

And why the silly names, Breakfast coffee, Glorious espresso? Quality coffee will have country of origin often the name of the farm, how the coffee has been processed. All important information.

Q grade of the coffee? Did not know, would need to talk to the man who roasts their coffee.

Would I like to smell the beans. I did, and they did not smell good.

Quality beans have a lovely aroma, these did not. I would certainly not buy coffee that smelled liked this.

If the coffee I had tried was not good, that was the fault of the barista. It was a problem as coffee roasters they were up against all the time, lack of good baristas, impossible to find in Farnham, it was not London.

I had not encountered this problem in Farnham, I can think of an excellent coffee shop Krema, source coffee from Horsham Coffee Roasters a reputable roaster, had at the time of the conversation at least three skilled baristas who never failed to serve me excellent coffee. Krema now have a second coffee shop in Guildford.

Nor elsewhere, be it Winchester, Brighton, Lincoln, Nottingham, York, Hull or Athens. But then apart from skilled baristas, they are also using quality coffee.

The high end of the coffee industry, traceability, transparency, quality is important.

I had wished to visit their roastery outside Farnham, a request to visit a year ago was ignored.

I have come across Cupsmith coffee served in two places, neither occasion good. The first time a skilled barista tried his best, the result was not great, and he would much rather have had better quality beans, the second time at Farnham Maltings Riverside Cafe, the coffee was disgusting.

When I next encountered Cupsmith the first Tuesday of July on the Guildford farmers market I did not know whether to laugh or cry.

Local yes, quality they are not.

The roasted coffee beans were in open hessian sacks, exposed to the heat and sun. One thing you learn in coffee is respect the beans. When coffee is treated like it says all you need to know about the vendor.

A sign on the stall cited Jamie Oliver as praising their coffee.

Coffee any Italian would be proud of — Jamie Magazine

Jamie Oliver may be a celebrity chef, that does not make him an expert on coffee, as his coffee kiosk at Gatwick demonstrates. The Gatwick kiosk is a tragedy and a lost opportunity. It could be a showcase to visitors to the UK for local coffee roasteries, serve excellent coffee, not barely drinkable coffee, corporate catering Italian brand coffee.

Coffee any Italian would be proud of. Was this meant to be ironic? Italy is infamous for its bad coffee. Something Italians are finally getting to grips with.

There are exceptions, there are always exception, Bar Italia, The Speciality Coffee Shop, Rubens Gardelli coffee roaster and owner of Gardelli Coffees won the World Coffee Roaster Championship in China last year, but these are exceptions, not the norm for Italian coffee.

I asked of the Q grade. Over 80.

The coffee lacked aroma. But then hardly surprising when exposed to the elements.

Cupsmith a roastery supplier of catering supply coffee, the bags lack essential information, country of origin, roast date, where sourced from.

To supply catering supply coffee is a mug’s game, a race to the bottom. Up against dodgy practices, we supply the machine, you have to buy our rubbish coffee at higher price then you would pay for quality coffee.

There is a myth peddled, people do not want quality coffee.

And yet, when speciality coffee shops open, they are busy, as when people discover what quality coffee tastes like, served by people who care about coffee, there is no going back.

These days spoilt for choice for quality coffee, no excuse for frequenting coffee shops serving poor quality coffee. And if wish to buy bags of coffee, good indie coffee shops will often have on sale, or go direct to the coffee roasteries.

Cupsmith also deal in tea and chocolate.

The chocolate I cannot comment on as I have not tried.

The tea is supplied in tea bags. Er, quality tea is supplied as loose leaf tea. The tea bags looked remarkable similar to those supplied by a tea supplier in Winchester.

To experience quality tea, try CUP, Coffee Lab Academy, Bamboo Shoots, all of which serve quality loose leaf tea.

In Guildford for loose leaf tea, Bamboo Shoots in Jeffries Passage is a must. They also serve excellent tea.

For coffee spoilt for choice in Guildford. Krema has a choice of single origin and espresso blend from Horsham Coffee Roasters. Canopy Canopy has guest coffees. Surrey Hills has coffee. FCB coffee kiosk on Guildford Station. And for a drink of coffee, Krema end of Tunsgate.

Yes, I wish to see coffee on the market, but quality coffee, not poor quality catering supply coffee. Invite Chimney Fire Coffee, speciality coffee roasted locally in the Surrey Hills.

I will leave last thoughts with Stephen Leighton, head honcho, green bean buyer, coffee roaster at Hasbean and author of Coffeeograpghy:

And do remember, life is too short for bad coffee.

 

Coffee Lab Chichester

July 13, 2018

Chichester is an old Roman town, the pedestrianised centre still follows the Roman Street plan, a medieval buttercross Chichester Cross in the centre, medieval side streets, surrounded by the Roman wall.

A town I thought where I would be spoilt for choice for coffee shops.

I was to be gravely disappointed.

Corporate chains a plenty, the pedestrianised centre ruined by corporate chains. Plenty of what were little more than greasy spoon cafes masquerading as tea rooms and coffee shops. But nowhere serving speciality coffee.

Then at the end of East Street and beyond, Draper’s Yard, well worth a visit, and within Edge an old Citroen van serving Edgcumbea Coffee. I tried cold brew and a cappuccino. Neither were good.

It was then to St Martins Coffee House which I had stumbled across earlier in the medieval streets in the North East Quarter between between North Street and East street for late lunch. A restored town house, wonderful garden out the back, a restaurant and not as the name would imply a coffee house.

Commenting on this, I was directed to Coffee Lab.

A couple of years ago Coffee Lab was one tiny coffee shop in a side street in Winchester serving excellent coffee. In the following two years, two more making it three in Winchester, pus a few more in other towns. Together with Flat Whites van and Flat Whites coffee shop, Winchester has become a thriving coffee city.

I have had my reservations, grave reservations, Coffee Lab opening several coffee shops, but I was not disappointed. The guys knew their coffee.

I was served an excellent cappuccino. I also tried their cold brew. It put to shame what I had tried at Edge aka Edgcumbes Coffee earlier.

I also noticed guest coffee.

Guest coffee is new for Coffee Lab, as until now all they have had is their Einstein and Hesienberg blends from The Roasting Party.

Chichester now has one coffee shop serving excellent coffee.

Cappuccino in Cosy Club

July 6, 2018

Cosy Club, not a place I would normally be seen dead in, a fake 1930s bar, a corporate chain. But I was curious they are sourcing coffee from Clifton Coffee.

How to get in? From the High Street, into Tunsgate, then into Tunsgate Quarter.

Tunsgate Quarter, a new shopping centre, artificial and sterile, boarded-up units, a few corporate chains, devoid of people. The glass ceiling turns it into a greenhouse, hotter than the street. The only positive, provides a useful short cut.

Nothing on this level other than a Nespresso stall. Did I want a Nespresso? No, I like coffee.

Down a spiral staircase. Again nothing. I find myself walking back into the High Street to find Cosy Club. Only you enter and climb the stairs.

I am surprised how large. Did I wish to be taken to a table? No, I will have a look around.

I decide on a seat by an open door leading onto a balcony, fresh air.

Cosy Club far worse than I expected, so fake it is a parody of fake.

At the bar, beers from industrial chemical factories. Only one real ale on a hand pump. No craft beers.

Has nothing been learnt from Wetherspoon? Apparently not.

I order a cappuccino. It is covered in chocolate. I send it back. A long wait for a second cappuccino, too large a mug, scalding hot, and yes, undrinkable.

The coffee is Clifton Village blend. Clifton are doing themselves no favours, not if they care for their reputation.

Do I wish to eat, do I wish to see the food menu? I decline.

It is then to Krema, where I have an excellent cold brew coffee.

Why is Guildford Tourist Information sending out tweets promoting Cosy Club? To date, I think nine, so many I am losing count. Yet another one today. Why did they tweet as a place for coffee? Is not the role of a tourist office to promote what is of interest locally, not as the PR office of a corporate chain? Is this an appropriate use of public money?

All the more ironic when on 4 July the launch of a month to celebrate independent businesses in Guildford.

Do compostable coffee cups compost?

June 25, 2018

Compostable coffee cups are a step in the right direction, but addressing symptoms not the underlying problems of takeaway grab it and go throw away culture, which is part of a larger problem of pointless consumption.

Compostable coffee cups raise two questions:

  • what to do with the coffee cups
  • do they actually compost

If I pick up a coffee cup then wander down the street what to do with the cup? If thrown in a bin it will join the general waste stream.

Do the cups compost, do they compost on a compost heap? Some cups claim to be biodegradable, a few compostable, some make no claim at all. For example a coffee cup from Morrisons, the outer is card, can be recycled, but what of the inner core, a composite structure forming an integral whole?

Only one way to find out, conduct a little experiment, deposit takeaway coffee cups on a compost heap.

A little collection of cups, including what I believe to be a plant-based cellulose straw. It clams to be biodegradable.

These added to a compost heap a little after midday today. End of June temperatures 27C and forecast higher over the next few days.

Always need a control. Added a cup from Starbucks which helpful staff did not believe to be biodegradeable.

Starbucks have on sale at £1 ugly reusable cups. Bring own reusable coffee cup a small discount of 25p.

As always it is indie coffee shops leading the way. One small chain Boston Tea Party has banned takeaway cups. More need to follow their excellent example, encourage relax in an indie coffee shop with speciality coffee served in glass or plastic.

Afternoon in Winchester

June 20, 2018

A pleasant afternoon in Winchester.

Missed a bus, missed a train.

Looked in Alton Station Cafe. Tonight for bikers night, chicken casserole.

Driver of 1415 No 64 bus Alton to Winchester running several minutes late, driving like a lunatic, exceeding speed limit, hit curb and smashed bus at Four Marks.

Alight and walk down Magdalen Hill into Winchester.

Sicilian guys still serving crap from their stall. It is tragic, they used to serve excellent pasta from their stall, worth a trip to Winchester for.

Flat Whites stall no food, all gone. Different guest coffee to last week.

I decide to check out the food at The Square. Spoilt for choice. Sourdough toast with grilled mushrooms.

The people sat outside, relaxing with a coffee, chatting with friends, I am very much reminded of Tailor Made in Athens.

Shocked to learn it is already five o’clock.

I head off to Flat Whites coffee shop. Too late, closed. I drop off a couple of copies of Caffeine. As last week, I recommend, do not subscribe to Caffeine, instead subscribe to Standart.

Back to The Square, but first check out Coffee Lab. I am shocked to find now closes at three. Coffee Lab Academy, as last week, chairs piled up, there were still people sitting there. It has gone rapidly down hill with no Laura in charge.

A cappuccino at The Square. Different barista and not as good as last week. Very large slice of walnut and coffee cake. Best I have ever had.

At Alton Station, same problem as last year, an ice cream van illegally parked in the car park, obstructing access, engine running, serving ice cream.

As last week, no special left at Alton Station Cafe.

As I board train, steam  train leaving.