Posts Tagged ‘Guildford’

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.

 

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Afternoon in Guildford

July 13, 2018

Another hot day.

Cheese stall not on the market.

I actually saw someone buying beans off the coffee stall. For anyone who wants coffee beans, walk to Krema at the end of Tunsgate where coffee beans from Horsham Coffee on sale.

Fresh peas off the market. Last week no peas, they said not worth buying, I can see why, I had off a stall on the Godalmiong street food market the following day and they were not good

As always, excellent lunch at Bamboo Shoots.

It was then to Krema for a cold brew coffee.

I pass by Surrey Hills Coffee. Not as busy as a couple of weeks ago, but not empty either.

I look in the Tourist information Office, Their tweets promoting Cosy Club,a fake 1930s bar, a corporate chain, not acceptable. Contrast with Chichester Tourist Information Office who promote cultural events, historic locations, independent businesses, reasons to visit Chichester.

On may way to Krema, dark clouds rolling in, thunderstorm forecast.

The roadworks in Tunsgate finally finished.

Completion of the roadworks has made a big difference. Can now see the Castle Ground and for people walking up Castle Street they can see Krema.

I decide not to stay long, though stayws longer than I wished. As leaving, starting to rain.

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.

Plastic Free July not yet reached Fresco

July 6, 2018

Fresco is a little Greek shop serving coffee, Greek cakes and Greek pastries. Neither the coffee nor pastries are good. The coffee is served in plastic. Why?

I walked inside and asked.

I was fed some bullshit that they are a little independent and cannot afford.

What they are doing is bringing to England the disgusting habit of Greek cafes of serving everything in plastic.

 

Afternoon in Guildford

July 6, 2018

Another very hot afternoon in Guildford.

Why is the Greek shop Fresco serving everything in plastic?

Looked in Harris + Hoole, let them know their cups have been added to the compost heap. I suggested they put their coffee grounds outside for people to collect. They thought a good idea and will think about it.

Patisserie Valerie giving out mango smoothies. Very welcome on a hot day.

The wholefood shop in the street opposite the same but not so good, some strange chemical concoctions.

And were the cups compostable? Patisserie Valerie thought not, but did not actually know, so assume no. Wholefood shop said yes.

More cups to add for the compost trial.

Wholefood shop coffee shelf empty. I suggested they stock Chimney Fire Coffee, excellent coffee, roasted locally in the Surrey Hills.

As always, excellent lunch at Bamboo Shoots.

I also tried Russian Caravan tea. So named because brought across Russia from China by caravan.

It was then to 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 outside. 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.

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 to promote 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 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.

Guildford farmers market

July 3, 2018

A very hot day for the farmers market.

Half a loaf off Celtic Bakers.

A very hot day, poultry sitting on a stall, flies and wasps crawling over their cooked sausages.

A farmers market should not only be local produce, it should also be quality.

I have pushed for some time for a coffee stall. I did not know whether to laugh or cry, Cupsmith Coffee, quality it is not. Coffee beans displayed open to the air in the heat.

One of the first things learn about coffee, respect the beans.

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.

It is Plastic Free July. Why low environmental standards on the market? What steps are being made to eliminate plastic?

The only steps are initiatives of the individual stall holders. It is not acceptable fresh produce in plastic.

Full marks to the paella stall, card boxes, wooden cutlery. And to the apple stall, apple juice in glass bottles.

Odd, what I thought was Secretts Farm, no longer is. I wonder how many others have not noticed? I had not noticed until it was pointed out to me.

A detour to Partisan excellent cheese shop end of Chapel Street. I recommended they stock Chimney Fire Coffee. Picked up Lincolnshire Poacher Cheese.

Hidden Curiosities Gin, why no stall, I was intrigued to see how craft gin compared with what was on the market. Silent Pool Gin, virtually no aroma, very bland to drink, 24 botanicals. Tom Cat Gin, slight aroma, rough firewater, 6 botanicals.

As always, excellent lunch from Bamboo Shoots.

Surrey Hills Coffee has relocated from Chapel Street to Jeffries Passage. I asked was it a pop up shop as gave the impression of being temporary.  Coffee was not great.

It was then to Krema, where guaranteed excellent coffee.

The roadworks in Tunsgate still not complete.

Afternoon in Guildford

June 29, 2018

A hot day, though maybe not as hot as previous days.

Walking along the River Wey to the High Street, moronic rap music blasting out from Electric Theatre disturbing the peace and tranquillity of this walk.

Walking up North Street I noticed Harris + Hoole empty. Death by a thousand cuts by Caffe Nero.

Lunch at Bamboo Shoots.

Picked up a couple of biodegradable plastic straws from Bamboo Shoots for compost trial. Nothing on the box to say what made off.

Walking past Surrey Hills Coffee as empty as when they were in Chapel Street. Posting on facebook doing well at new site when anyone walking past sees not simply makes look foolish. Looking in it looked very tacky, as though knocked up  as a temporary location, cf Canopy Coffee or Krema. They say now doing food. Do they have A3 planning consent? It takes more than a change of location, maybe a case of grass looks greener on the other side, or cheaper rent. 5-30 is hardly extended opening hours, and worse to encourage grab it and go takeaway culture. Do they really think anyone is going to pay to rent an upstairs room when many places locally to meet for free? The one bag of coffee I looked at was at least freshly roasted, compared with their old coffee shop where it could be a couple of months old. What though will it be in a couple of months time? Why do they have A-boards blocking both the High Street and Jeffries Passage? Is it really necessary an A-board outside the coffee shop? The council needs to clamp down on A-boards as a hazard for pedestrians with poor sight. When there is Krema serving excellent coffee,  it is going to take more than a change of location, like maybe decent coffee, skilled baristas.

Roadworks still ongoing in Tunsgate. Krema barricaded off. Now panic stations to complete the work. Cowboy workers cutting stone, dust everywhere, no damping down, no face masks worn.

There is to be  street party in Tunsgate next week. But how is anyone to know as no information anywhere?

Cold brew coffee in Krema.

Walking back down North Street, Harris + Hoole empty. Are their takeaway coffee cups compostable? No. Their plastic cups yes. Nothing to say they are, or what made of. If used for hot drinks they melt. One taken away for compost trial. No cold brew coffee. The gimmick nitro brew was short lived.

Hidden Curiosities Gin

June 22, 2018

In The Keep, Hidden Curiosities Gin set up a gin pop up shop and free tasting.

Curious I decided to pop along.

Not in the Gin Alley, oops Gin Parlour upstairs at The Keep, an area had been set aside downstairs.

I am no fan of gin, cannot stand the smell let alone the taste, but was curious, this was craft gin.

For some perverse reason, gin has become the in drink.

Did I wish to try?

The aroma was quite pleasant, not at all like that normally associated with gin. To drink, like drinking firewater, lacking the maturity of a good brandy. I could see why it is usually drunk diluted. It also has potential for cocktails with cold brew coffee.

A long chat with Jenny, she is also a fashion designer, who had designed the gin.

We have craft beer, speciality coffee and now craft gin.

Chatting with Jenny as passionate about craft gin, as brewers are about craft beer, or roasters and baristas about single origin, direct trade speciality coffee. And equally passionate  about slow fashion.

She does not distil the gin, this is done using spare capacity at a distillery, but it is carried out to her recipe with her overseeing the distillation.

Twenty botanicals are added.

Botanicals? This sound like alchemy, or maybe something out of a  steam punk novel. Why botanicals, why not simply call herbs?

Because more than herbs are added, spices and berries are added, and this is what gives the interesting aroma, not what could be described as the crude unpleasant smell of gin.

And the gin itself then forms the foundations for something else, it could be as simple as a gin and tonic or maybe an exotic cocktail using cold brew coffee.

It was only later I thought of last year at Union Summer Festival, Martin Hudak had won World Champion Barista for Coffee in Good Spirits and later at The Underdog in Athens a V60 from Manos Mamatis, the No 2, and also in The Underdog three previous winners of Coffee in Good Spirits.

Maybe something for Robustos to consider, a speciality coffee shop with excellent wines, whiskey and of course coffee.

Or The Square in Winchester.

Something I had not seen before, copper straws.

Afternoon in Guildford

June 22, 2018

Strange weather, starts cool, turns hot.

As I walk up North Street by the market, arrogant idiot parks in No Parking to do his shopping on the market. When it is pointed out No Parking, he ask where am I to park when shopping? Maybe car park as everyone else.

Lunch at Bamboo Shoots, honey crunch chicken with brown rice, then back to market, but too late, strawberries gone. From another stall, two boxes of strawberries, two pineapples, £3-00.

Work on Tunsgate progressing backwards, now digging up that previously laid.

In Krema, excellent cold brew coffee. I resist the temptation to have another.

I give one box of strawberries, one pineapple, to Krema.

Walking down to The Keep, I see the work on Tunsgate is extending half way down the road.

In The Keep, Hidden Curiosities Gin have set up a gin pop up shop and free tasting.

I am no fan of gin, cannot stand the smell let alone the taste, but was curious, this was craft gin.

For some perverse reason, gin has become the in drink.

Did I wish to try?

The aroma was quite pleasant, not at all like that normally associated with gin. To drink, like drinking firewater, lacking the maturity of a good brandy. I could see why it is usually drunk diluted. It also has potential for cocktails with cold brew coffee.

Afternoon in Guildford

June 18, 2018

Strange weather. One day cold, next day hot. Weekend was cold, especially Sunday, this morning at eleven it was cool, by midday warm, afternoon hot.

FCB coffee kiosk open, a coffee and a chat.

Lunch at Pho, Vietnamese street food restaurant. Last day half price.

What a difference a few days make, no queue, upstairs empty. Different staff to last Friday, I would not say rude, but curt and not very friendly. As I walk in, I notice a couple of tables people querying their bill. I think no more of it, until I receive my bill. They have sneaked on the bill 10% service charge, 10% of full price. This is not acceptable. No mention of this when I walked in, it was not added Friday. The price on the menu should be the price paid. It leaves a nasty taste in the mouth and undermines any goodwill they have generated with 50% off opening offer.

Coffee at Krema. I start with cappuccino, then cold brew. A mistake, I should have stuck to cold brew.

Krema should have view of Guildford Castle, instead roadworks.

How long is it going to take to finish Tunsgate? The workman knocked off before four. The very least the traders in Tunsgate should get Business Rate relief for the duration of the work.

The completed work is being dug up to add drains.

No response from local council. The jobsworth forget at their peril they are paid for and accountable to local people