Posts Tagged ‘Costa’

The sad bitter truth of undrinkable coffee

September 18, 2018

In May, I met with a friend in a coffee shop in Cyprus.

Where we met in Cyprus, Robustos in Paralimini is a rarity, a speciality coffee shop that serves decent coffee.

Cyprus has more coffee chains than can shake a stick at. Chains you may have heard of, chains you will never have heard of, Costa (now owned by Coca-Cola), tax-dodging Caffe Nero, tax-dodging Starbucks, Coffee Island and Coffee Berry, the Greek versions of Starbucks, Second Cup, the Canadian version of Starbucks.

My friend Georgia does not like coffee. I explained why she found coffee to be unpleasant and bitter, poor quality coffee, bad machine, brewed by someone who not a skilled barista, too hot. Yes, she had found coffee to be served scalding hot, and yes, it was unpleasant and bitter.

Owner George joined us for a chat and I asked him to make Georgia a cappuccino. To Georgia, I said please try, if you do not like it, you are not obliged to drink it.

Georgia took a tentative sip, found it to be OK. Only when her cup was empty and she had said she enjoyed it, did I point out that that she had not had to add sugar.

The only reason chocolate is dumped on a cappuccino, sugar and syrups added, is to mask the taste of bad coffee.

Visit a speciality coffee shop, they will source their beans from a quality coffee roastery, who sources quality beans from a farm. The roast will be light to medium roast to bring out the characteristics of the beans. The roast varies with each batch of beans. It then takes a skilled barista to bring out the best from the beans, and the skilled barista needs a quality grinder and quality espresso machine. Any error en route from farm to cup will ruin the beans and produce a poor cup of coffee.

The coffee chains buy cheap low quality beans. These are over roasted to hide any defects in the beans. This though is not the only reason for the dark roast, it gives uniformity of the beans, a burnt coffee bean is a burnt coffee bean, it requires no skill of the barista, a robot could do the job, the only reason McWorkers are employed they are cheaper than robots.

An analogy would be McDonald’s. All their burgers are identical, maybe 200 cows in one burger. No skill required to cook the burger.

Brian Stoffel from the viewpoint of a coffee farmer in Puerto Rico explains in an excellent article The Bitter Truth About Starbucks Coffee why cheap coffee is dark roast and preferred by the global coffee chains and speciality coffee a lighter roast.

In a dark roast, bitter is the predominant flavor. That’s because bitter is the flavor you get when things get burned.

At El Toledo, he demonstrates to tourists how the beans change over the course of just a few minutes of roasting, and what those few minutes means for the taste that ends up in the cup. Beans sampled at one-minute intervals, beginning 15 minutes into the roasting process.

The main difference between the three different roasts (courtesy Brian Stoffel):

  • In a light roast, the flavors are more fruity and acidic. That’s because the coffee cherries that the beans come from are fruity and acidic.
  • In a medium roast, the coffee tastes more balanced and sweet. That’s primarily because the glucose has been heated up and activated, but it also hasn’t burned away yet.
  • In a dark roast, bitter is the predominant flavor. That’s because bitter is the flavor you get when things get burned.

Two speciality coffee shops to try light roasted beans, Base Camp on Steep Hill in Lincoln and Outpost Coffee in the Lace Market area of Nottingham.

Dark roasted coffee can be tried in any coffee chain, and sadly too many indie coffee shops that buy cheap rubbish catering supply coffee. One of the worst I have tried, Jacobs coffee served in an indie coffee shop in Cyprus, the coffee undrinkable, the beans, black, over roasted and the disgusting smell of the beans turned the stomach.

To buy quality coffee beans, from most speciality coffee shops or direct from the roastery.

Coffee chains ripoff their customers

September 16, 2018

Last week, The Mail on Sunday had an article Barista bandits on how the coffee chains are ripping off their customers.

Caffe Nero and Starbucks dodge tax, Costa owned by Coca-Cola, Pret a manger by Vulture Capitalists, all serve disgusting cheap undrinkable coffee, but as the MoS points out, we are paying a high price for this undrinkable coffee, at least those with no taste for coffee are, those of us who appreciate coffee, seek out the nearest local speciality coffee shop. To this list of reasons to avoid the chains could also add poor working conditions, soul destroying low paid McShit jobs, drain money out of the local economy.

MoS describe how the wholesale price of coffee has fallen, in the meantime the price charged by the chains has risen. By wholesale price, it is assumed they are referring to the coffee exchange price for commodity coffee in London and New York.

According to MoS, price of beans on the international markets has dropped 67% since 2011, from £2.23 per pound to a low of 74p last month. In the same period, a ‘tall’ cappuccino in Starbucks that cost £2.15 in 2011 now costs £2.60 in most outlets – a 20% increase.

It is not only Starbucks ripping off their customers, other chains are also ripping off their customers too:

  • tax dodging Caffe Nero – regular cappuccino has risen 40p from £2.30 in 2011
  • Pret a Manger – from £2.19 to £2.45
  • Costa – the £2.15 ‘primo’ now costs £2.35

The usual excuses, we have heard them all before with ratchet pricing from energy companies, cost of Brent Crude goes up, electricity prices rise, cost of oil drops, electricity price stays the same.

  • Starbucks: ‘Many factors contribute to pricing decisions, including rents, labour, competition, distribution, commodities – and coffee.’
  • Costa: ‘The price of a cup of coffee does not simply reflect the cost of the beans.’
  • Pret a Manger: ‘Our coffee prices take into account the cost of our ingredients, as well as operational costs such as wages.’
  • Cafe Nero: declined to comment.

That low price on the international commodity exchange translates as bigger margins for the chains, poverty for the growers, the difference between sending the kids to school or not, a nutritinal meal every day.

The world of the speciality coffee shop is different, they engage in Direct Trade. Yes you are paying a higher price for your cappuccino, usually somewhere between £2-50 and £3-00, though often less than will pay in a chain.

There are though very good reasons for this price, and unlike the chains, it can be more than justified.

Investment by the coffee shop, decor, ambience, employment of skilled baristas, quality espresso machine and grinder, a choice of brew methods, V60 or Chemex pour over filter coffee, cold brew coffee. They are buying quality speciality coffee, not cheap commodity coffee, a far higher price is paid to the growers.

We have a choice, no one is forced to drink coffee from a corporate chain, to pay through the nose for undrinkable cheap coffee. There are speciality coffee shops, where the baristas and owner will be passionate about coffee, where can relax with a quality coffee served in glass or ceramic, where can drink with a clear conscience knowing a higher price is being paid to the coffee grower.

Costa demonstrates why we need a latte levy

January 19, 2018

2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are thrown away every year in the UK.

What appear to be paper cups are not. They are lined-with plastic, and therein lies the problem, these plastic-lined paper cups cannot be recycled, if tossed in with paper, contaminates the paper with plastic.

Plastic pollution is killing the planet.

8 million tonnes of plastic are discarded into the oceans every year. The plastic accumulates. By 2050 the amount of plastic in the oceans will outweigh the fish. It is hazardous to sea life.

It is thanks to chains like Costa why we have a problem, they encourage a grab it and go, throw away consumerist culture.

Why are these cups sitting on a table, why was the coffee not served in a ceramic cup?

It demonstrates why we need a 25p latte levy, to be introduced at the next budget, why we must make it socially unacceptable the grab it and go coffee culture.

Please sign the petition calling on Michael Gove to introduce the 25p levy. And boycott chains which are lobbying hard to stop introduction of the latte levy.

Lincoln Coop hates coffee drinkers

September 14, 2017

It would appear from the coffee machines being installed and the ugly eyesore signs installed recently outside their stores, that Lincoln Coop hates coffee drinkers.

Why else install Costa inside their stores?

This is to insult coffee drinkers.

It also exposes the crass hypocrisy of the Coop when they claim they support local communities.

Look at Sincil Street, many businesses driven out by the Coop.

Green Dragon closed thanks to Cooop.

In Washingborough, local businesses forced out of business by the Coop.

Latest is a newsagent. The newsagent wishes to sell his business and retire. Buyers were lined up, Coop is blocking the sale of alcohol.

Should not the Coop be supporting and encouraging local businesses?

Should they not be supporting indy coffee shops in Lincoln?

But no they support Costa, force the closure of local businesses.

Big Business coffee chains

September 15, 2016

Three coffee chains, Costa, Caffe Nero and tax-dodging Starbucks, dominate the High Street and shopping centres. Three coffee chains you will avoid if you love coffee.

It is difficult to comprehend why anyone drinks what is called coffee in these chains, when here is now a wide diversity of quality indie coffee shops. But then it is difficult to comprehend why anyone eats in KFC or McDonald’s.

Chains making millions out of serving poor quality, undrinkable coffee and factory cakes, in a characterless corporate environment.

Starbucks part of the local community? Was that a joke?

If coffee out of a machine tastes the same as that served by a barista, what does that say of the baristas employed by Costa?

Indie coffee shops, serve quality coffee, source quality coffee beans, employ skilled and knowledgeable baristas and recycle money within the  local economy.

Avoid the chains, seek out indie coffee shops and learn what real coffee  tastes like.

Cappuccino from FCB Artisan Coffee at Guildford Station

August 2, 2015
FCB cappuccino

FCB cappuccino

A station kiosk, indeed any kiosk, is not somewhere one would at first glance think of being the best place for coffee.

And yet why should that be? One of the best places for a coffee, and certainly by the far the best in Winchester, is off Jimmy Bean, and his battered old Citroen van on the street food market in Winchester on a Wednesday. And not just coffee, he is one of the best places to eat in Winchester. There is not much Jimmy Bean does not know about coffee.

I often walk past FCB Artisan Coffee, into Guildford at a leisurely pace, leaving Guildford with more haste and seconds to spare to catch a train.

Today, with nearly an hour to kill (dysfunctional Sunday service even though many people travel on a Sunday) I chatted to Shaun.

Shaun is probably the best barista in Guildford, like Jimmy Bean not much he does not know about coffee. He was at Harris + Hoole, then Glutton & Glee (where he did wonders for their coffee reputation), now he is running the kiosk on platform 2.

Although it was a hot day, and I did not really fancy a coffee, I thought I would try a cappuccino.

I sometimes wonder, is my taste for coffee going awry, when I try coffees, ok, certainly not disgusting as Costa.

Today I had an internal calibration. No, my taste is not going awry, it is that the coffee is not as good as it could be, care is not taken in the making, for example grinding the coffee afresh for each coffee, and the barista is not up to the job. These factors are certainly true for Costa or tax dodging Caffe Nero and Starbucks.

I have to say the cappuccino served by Shaun was one of the best I have had in Guildford, even better than Harris + Hoole, where you are guaranteed an excellent coffee. It was up with the gold standard, think Stokes on High Bridge in Lincoln or Taylor St Baristas in Brighton.

It had an unusual creamy taste.

It was then hop on the train as my train pulled in for Haslemere, and I did not even have to change platforms, it was step onto the train from the kiosk.

I then noticed something, something I have never noticed before with a coffee, though this may be because I often have a cookie. I was left with a lovely after taste.

If you are passing through Guildford Station, forget Costa, and head straight for the FCB Artisan Coffee kiosk on Platform 2.

If you are drinking coffee from Costa, then there is something seriously wrong with your sense of taste. I once had a coffee from the station Costa. It looked disgusting and it tasted disgusting. My reflex reaction was to spit it out on the floor, and it took self-control not to. Or maybe if drinking at Costa, you have never had a decent coffee.

Do yourself a favour, try the coffee from the FCB Artisan Coffee kiosk on Platform 2.

One criticism, more a suggestion, have on display information about the coffee, for example the origin. I am sure Shaun would have been able to tell me had I asked.

My other query, which I did not follow up, can the cups, the lid, be composted? If not, they should be.

Coffee in Protaras

May 27, 2014

Three years ago, there were no coffee shops in Protaras.

Last year it was strongly recommended that indie coffee shops opened, if not, the likes of Costa and Starbucks would muscle their way in. And sadly there is already a Costa.

The advice has been heeded, several coffee shops are opening, but not indie coffee shops, Cypriot attempts to form local chains (a big mistake).

Cypriots are opening coffee shops knowing little if anything about coffee.

patisserie amelie

patisserie amelie

patisserie amelie

This lovely little coffee shop opened two seasons ago, cakes, ice cream, waffles.

The season it opened, they had an excellent Greek barista called George. Why was he not retained? Pleasant enough staff now, but not in the same class as George.

The coffee is LavAzza. Ok as a brand coffee, but not really good enough. It is now time to up the game, and use local hand roasted coffee beans.

The Coffee Club

The Coffee Club

The Coffee Club

New this season and only opened last week.

Coffee and fast food, coffee served in plastic! You got to be joking!

The fast food needs to be ditched, glass and decent cups.

The coffee is imported specialist coffee.

A Hungarian who knows about coffee is doing his best.

Sex & Beans

A rather brash, too brash, mix of coffee and cocktails. Do the two go together? Not really.

Cold brewed coffee.

Open maybe this week, maybe next week. The date keeps being pushed back.

Coffee Island

Ludicrous, raised platforms.

Little is known, maybe opens next week.


Overpriced, poor quality coffee, factory cakes, lacks ambience, screams corporate.

Popular with local Cypriots who have no taste, equally popular with English who also are lacking in taste.

Sirena Bay

Sirena Bay

Sirena Bay

Not actually in Protaras, not even in Pernera.

Disgusting nescafe, it could not get worse.

But, and a big but, if they get a decent espresso machine, quality coffee beans, a competent barista, then worth a visit for the location.

Hop on the Protaras-Paralimni bus, pass through Pernera, and hop off at Crystal Springs. Head down the road alongside Crystal Springs to the sea, walk along the coast towards Pernera. This is by far the best way to approach. Pick up the bus on the main road.


A lovely taverna overlooking the main square in Paralimni.

They know how to make freddo cappuccino.

Need better glasses, slightly tapered.

Coffee is LavAzza. Ok as a brand coffee. Hand roasted coffee from local roaster would be even better.

Not Protaras. Hop on the Protaras-Paralimni bus to Paralimni. Alight in Paralimini. Epodi is across the square.

Sales fall at tax dodger Starbucks

April 25, 2014
Starbucks protest

Starbucks protest

Excellent news, the Starbucks boycott is working, sales are falling at Starbucks.

I would be ashamed to be seen dead in Starbucks, and shame on those who still drink coffee in Starbucks.

Shame too on those who drink coffee in Caffe Nero and Costa.

Caffe Nero is also a tax dodger.

Starbucks have announced they are moving their corporate headquarters from Netherlands to the UK, but this should be seen for what it is, greenwash, they will still be dodging tax.

Disgusting the rubbish piled up outside tax dodger Caffe Nero, North Street, Guildford. Why no action by the local council?

tax dodger Caffe Nero rubbish piled in the street

tax dodger Caffe Nero rubbish piled in the street

Vile disgusting coffee at Costa

March 14, 2014
WTF vile disgusting cappuccino (?) at Costa

WTF vile disgusting cappuccino (?) at Costa

Harris + Hoole really must get their act together. Upstairs closed, downstairs packed. Begrudgingly forced to take a coffee at Costa.

A big mistake.

No wifi. Toilet dirty, no toilet paper.

And the coffee?

WTF. It was supposed to be a cappuccino but it looked like no cappuccino I have ever seen or encountered.

First it was served in a cup far too big. This I rejected and was given a smaller cup. No refund offered.

And the taste was vile. A very unpleasant bitter taste, that left the same unpleasant bitter taste in the mouth. It was vile. It was undrinkable.

How can people drink such disgusting coffee?

But then how can people eat at McDonald’s or KFC?

It is not only the coffee that is far superior at Harris + Hoole, the staff give the impression they actually enjoy being there, and as a result, a far better ambience. And they have wifi.

Cappuccino at Caffe Macchiato

August 16, 2013
Caffe Macchiato

Caffe Macchiato

Caffe Macchiato cappuccino

Caffe Macchiato cappuccino

I had a cappuccino a couple of days ago. It was good and I said I would pop back.

Tuesday, it was cold, today it was pleasant sitting outside.

Sitting outside, looking down the street, ignore the cars parked, ignore the tacky shop fronts, the plague of fast food joints, boarded-up shops, charity shops, and with a stretch of the imagination, could be sat outside in Athens, in a pleasant tree-lined street.

Caffe Macchiato has an attractive shop front. Why can the rest of the street not have similar shop fronts, or shop fronts in keeping with the Victorian buildings? There is no reason why we have to have an ugly street, full of tacky shops. Why not a street lined with quality independent shops? Something worth making a trip to Aldershot for?

The problem is brain-dead, pig-ignorant, arrogant councillors who lack vision and have not got a clue.

We recently had the imbecile leader of the council announcing exciting news for Farnborough. And what was that exciting news? Queensmead has new paving slabs, at £1 million an appalling waste of public money. And that Starbucks had made Farnborough its home. Er no, home for Starbucks is its corporate head office in Seattle. In Farnborough, tax-dodging Starbucks has opened a coffee shop.

Instead of welcoming chains, why not celebrate our local coffee shops?

With Caffe Macchiato serving quality coffee and being a pleasant place to sit outside, why do people visit Costa at the bottom of the street and drink what masquerades as coffee?

The attractive lady with a lovely smile running Caffe Macchiato is a very talented artist. Caffe Macchiato as well as serving excellent coffee, serves as an exhibition space for some of her art.

Caffe Macchiato has occasional live music in the evening.

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