Posts Tagged ‘Lincoln’

Happy Cat Coffee House

April 7, 2018

As I was leaving the Lincoln Vegan Festival in Lincoln Drill Hall, I noticed a coffee stall. At first I assumed it was a roasterie, as prominently displayed a bag of coffee.  Though there was also on display a bag of chocolate. A roasterie would have made sense. But no, it was a pop up coffee shop, Happy Cat Coffee House.

Did I want a coffee?

No, I do not like fake milk. It always tastes disgusting.

I had a cappuccino. It looked disgusting and was not good.

Large bubbles, at least a millimetre across.

Why was it so bad?

A combination of three things: lack of skill of barista (it was served scalding hot), fake milk, and maybe poor quality coffee (though taste so masked by fake milk impossible to tell).

It is not possible to make a decent cappuccino with fake milk. Apart from tasting disgusting, it looks disgusting. And what of the environmental damage caused by soy plantations, one of the main causes of destruction of rain forests?

The coffee was from Frank and Ernest Coffee. When a company peddles a gimmick such a nitro cold brew coffee, it says all you need to know.

I was given a sample of the beans.

Happy Cat Coffee House had driven all the way from Hackney for a pop up coffee shop selling cappuccino at £3 for a takeaway in a town that has three coffee shops, Coffee Aroma, Madame Waffle and Makushi, only a few minutes walk away serving excellent coffee.

Questionable why a vegan festival which one would hope exacts high environmental standards has a coffee stall encouraging the use of disposable coffee cups, when what we should be doing is encouraging sit down and relax in an indie coffee shop serving coffee in ceramic or glass.

I left, pouring my coffee down the drain.

It was then to Makushi aka Base Camp on Steep Hill where I was guaranteed a decent cup of coffee served in ceramic not a takeaway cup.

 

 

 

 

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Lincoln Vegan Festival

April 7, 2018

I have to admit, I am no great fan of vegan food, a main dish yes but cakes are always disgusting.

Lincoln Vegan Festival held in the Lincoln Drill Hall.

If nothing else, an opportunity to see inside.

Wonderful ironwork. Shame the building has been partitioned and ruined.

Few food stalls. Most of the stalls were anything but food, animal rights, hunt saboteurs, tea, coffee, candles.

One stall selling vegan sausages. Yuk. Another had some very disgusting looking chips.

The only stall with food worth eating was Indian food. I though had already eaten.

Low environmental standards. Food served on plastic, plastic utensils.

The only stall I found of interest was a tea company from Hull, Leaves of the World,  where I stopped and had an interesting conversation on tea.

As I was leaving, I noticed a coffee stall. At first I assumed it was a roasterie, as prominently displayed a bag of coffee. That would have made sense. But no, it was a pop up coffee shop, Happy Cat Coffee House. I had a cappuccino. It looked disgusting and was not good.  It is not possible to make a decent cappuccino with fake milk. Apart from tasting disgusting, it looks disgusting. And what of the environmental damage caused by soy plantations, one of the main causes of destruction of rain forests? The takeaway cups were compostable or at least some were.  The coffee I poured down the drain.

It was then to Makushi aka Base Camp on Steep Hill where I was guaranteed a decent cup of coffee served in ceramic not a takeaway cup.

It did not happen whilst I was there, apparently the power kept tripping out. Either earth leakage problems or excessive power load.  The organisers claimed this regularly happens at festivals, ask caterers. Not something I have ever experienced.  Ask the caterers may give a clue. Excessive power load if all the caterers hit peak demand simultaneously. It is the norm to have a separate power circuit for cooking equipment due to the excessive load. If the catering equipment is plugged into 13A power circuit this explains a lot, and the system was reacting as designed by cutting out. This is something Lincoln Drill Hall should check. If they are permitting excessive load, they may be invalidating their insurance.

Coffee Bobbins

April 4, 2018

Coffee Bobbins an award winning coffee shop opened a year ago Easter at the bottom of The Strait.

I must be a glutton for punishment, award winning yes but the award by Good Taste Lincolnshire, compounded by the fact they serve tea pigs and coffee supplied by Lincoln Tea and Coffee.

In their defence Coffee Bobbins may say we are a cake shop, and it is true a display of scrumptious looking cakes, though limited choice and I did not try. They do though call themselves a coffee shop not a cake shop, and I was there to try their coffee.

When I see a coffee or tea shop displaying tea pigs it immediately tells me they are clueless on tea.

The coffee supplied by Lincoln Tea and Coffee again not a good sign as it is not good coffee. I have tried before at Bailgate Deli. It was not good. When I asked to look at the beans I found to be cheap over-roasted coffee with defective beans and a very unpleasant aroma.

The same Brazilian blend that Lincoln Tea and Coffee claim they supply as an exclusive blend for Bailgate Deli, a speciality coffee shop. Not then exclusive, neither is Bailgate Deli a speciality coffee shop, if it was, it would employ skilled baristas and source better quality coffee beans. Not that Bailgate Deli has ever claimed to be a speciality coffee shop, they are a deli specialising in vegan food.

Lincoln Tea and Coffee claim their beans are fresh. They do not roast, merely buy and bag and on the bags no roast date thus no way of knowing how fresh.

The decor is reasonable, though lacking in ambience.

The entrance very badly designed, and forced to push past people blocking the way.

My coffee not good, too hot, chocolate dumped on top.

I asked for a coffee without chocolate. It was not good either, again scalding hot and undrinkable. After one sip I left it.

I asked for water. I am used to Athens, water is always brought without asking or is on the counter.

Toilets are out the back in a yard. Not good if raining.

If as appears, Coffee Bobbins care about their cakes, then why not care about the coffee? I can visit a chain if I want to drink bad coffee, Costa or tax dodging Starbucks or Caffé Nero. And the price not cheap, at £2-80 expect quality coffee.

They also need to employ skilled baristas. Though the best barista would be hard pushed to make a decent cup of coffee with the beans they are using no matter how hard they tried.

There is absolutely no excuse for this. If they have not a clue on coffee, begs the question why open a coffee shop, but if not a clue, then pick up a copy of The North and North Wales Independent Coffee Guide where will find listed speciality coffee shops and coffee roasteries. A hint, try 200 degrees, or better still Hasbean or Dark Woods.

It is commendable to buy local, but never at the expense of quality. And how local is local, Hasbean and Dark Woods are regional.

Similarly if they are serious about tea cannot get more local than Imperial Tea half way up Steep Hill, which is served in Pimento Tea Rooms.

The one good point was the two girls serving, polite, pleasant, helpful, and in conversation knowledgeable about coffee.

Lincoln Street Food Festival

March 25, 2018

A street food festival was held last year. The travelling circus has returned.

Lessons should have been learnt, and not invited back.

Even worse, if true, Lincoln Big are paying this travelling circus to come to Lincoln.

Last year, it was freezing cold, wrong time of the year for street food.

It was due to be held a couple of weeks ago but heavy snow forced cancellation. It took place this weekend, Friday Saturday and Sunday.

Friday very quiet, Saturday surprisingly busy, queues at some of the food stalls. Maybe for Lincoln folk, whose idea of fine dining is McDonald’s or KFC, it is seen as quality food.

The one stall empty, though no surprise, the coffee stall.

Litter everywhere, overflowing bins.

The useless Lincoln City Council knew of the market, could they not have arranged extra street cleaners to clean up the mess and empty the overflowing  bins, or at the very least make the organisers responsible?

Contrast with the Lower Marsh Street Food Party, where no litter problem.

Abysmally low environmental standards. Plastic boxes for the food, polystyrene burger-style boxes for the food.

Useless Lincoln City Council hectors the rest of us to reduce our waste, to  recycle. Can they not get their own house in order, set high standards for street markets?

Large generators beside the stalls, very noisy.

Why not an arrangement where plug into power sources from lampposts, as they do in other towns?

Awful music blasting out from many of the stalls, which was very unpleasant. Even worse from a large tent in Cornhill, which also attracted drunks.

What the street food market did though highlight, we do not have  to have large lorries driving through the pedestrianised streets after ten o’clock or before four o’clock, as during the market they could not gain access.

Nothing wrong with a street food market, but it has to be done properly. Instead of paying a travelling circus, invite individual quality food producers, hold in Sincil Street not the High Street, charge a nominal pitch fee.

Look to the successful street food markets held elsewhere.

Godalming has an annual street food festival, that puts this to shame.

A week of snow

March 4, 2018

It started Monday a week ago, awoke to a light covering of snow.  It soon melted away.

In Lincoln, bitterly cold, light flurries of snow, few people about, those that were were stocking up with food.

I had intended to leave early, instead left late, after lunch at County Restaurant the afternoon in Madame Waffle.

Tuesday the snow had arrived. Before breakfast a path cleared of snow.

A day of dark clouds, bright sunshine, heavy snowfalls.

Heavy snowfall, blizzard, and something I had never experienced before, whiteout.  This would alternate with clear blue sky and sun shining.

Subzero outside, and yet, was able to sit and relax in the conservatory, heated by the sun.

Solar power though of no use. Looking out, I see solar panels covered in snow.

Nothing moving, everyone snowed in.

Wednesday, as Tuesday, heavy snow, several inches deep, before breakfast clearing the snow.  No soonest cleared, within half an hour, at least an inch deep. Before lunch, once again clear the snow, now a couple of inches deep.

As Tuesday, heavy snow, dark clouds, sunshine. Again possible to sit in the conservatory, minus three degrees outside, drops to minus seven.

As Tuesday, heavy snowfall, blizzard, whiteout, which  would alternate with clear blue sky and sun shining.

Impossible to go out, sink into the snow.

Farnborough two days in a row, record for colddest place, minus 11.9C.

Warning, we are running out of gas. People should drop their temperature by a degree, will not notice, saves money, saves gas. If going out, turn down the thermostat by at least five degrees, then turn back up on return.

We need large gas storage facilities. We had but was closed last year. That is what happens when privatise energy supply, lose energy security, no resilience in the system.

Not possible to import from Europe, as pipes lack capacity, and even if possible, Europe colder than UK, thus need the gas.

UK was powered by North Sea Gas. It was sold of on the cheap, now UK imports roughly half the gas it needs.

Wind is providing as much energy as gas, but different usage.

Industrial users of gas cannot be cut off, crash cool a kiln and cause tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage to the kiln.

In Lincolnshire, at least 45 roads are closed, idiots who should not be out, are out in their cars no idea how to handle a car in the snow, get stuck then block the roads.

Police call in the military they cannot cope.

Thursday I managed to get out. To my surprise, many people are walking in the snow in Washingborough. I guess house bound and an opportunity to get out the house.

I ask one man, is it worth walking to the local Coop? He says no, no bread, he has taken the last milk.

As I thought, no deliveries and more people placing demand on local Coop.

Slowly running out of food.

Walking around the village, very cold, Arctic conditions, sub-zero with a gale blowing.

There has been no snow all day.

Friday again no snow. Manage to get out and walk to the local Coop. As I thought, very little stock, no bread, little in the way of vegetables, a small amount of milk.

Again very cold with strong winds blowing.

Saturday a little snow overnight, light covering of snow.

One degree Celsius. It actually feels warm.

Hop on the bus to Heighington. The Spar shop reasonably well stocked, actually able to get some bread, the butcher well stocked.

Stock up with provisions. At least will not starve.

In the afternoon a trip into Lincoln. One kind person has even cleared the bus stop.

Walking to the bus stop and waiting for the bus, cold and damp, a breeze blowing, misty.

Very bleak journey into Lincoln.

The State of the Art Lincoln Central Bus Station colder than outside.

Outside the entrance a couple of inches of slush, Lincoln City Council cannot be arsed to clear the snow.

Sincil Street and High Street the same, slush covered streets. Traders pay enough in businesses rates, the least they can expect is the streets to be cleared of slush.

More people out than I expected. Maybe Saturday, maybe first opportunity to get out of the house and into Lincoln.

Stokes on High Bridge as always, empty, same for Cafe W at Waterstone’s. On the other hand Coffee Aroma busy and at Madame Waffle packed queuing at the door to get in. That is th difference good coffee makes.

I take the opportunity to stock up with more provisions.

Walking back to the bus station, I notice the slush melting, water gathers at the lowest point and flows, the newly installed drains not at the lowest point. Yet another design flaw for the newly opened Lincoln Central Bus Station that only opened last month.

Sunday a few degrees above freezing, the snow starting to melt, very misty.

It snows, and the country grinds to a halt, the trains do not run, those that do run, break down leaving people stranded for several hours, foolish people go out in the cars, clueless driving on snow.

For the last decade winters have been mild. Temperatures of 10C, maybe drops to 5C, occasionally below zero.

These mild winters have lulled the country into a false sense of security.

The Arctic, zero degrees, at least twenty degrees warmer than it should be , strong winds circling the North Pole driving the cold air southward into Europe.

What is a heat wave in the Arctic has panicked climate scientists, as what has been observed is way beyond their worst case scenarios for climate change.

Bar Unico

February 20, 2018

A bar serving coffee, a coffee shop?

Actually neither, Italian concept, there is not the distinction between a bar and a coffee shop, a bar will serve coffee and food.

I had been recommended try.

Low expectations, Italian coffee is dark, over roasted, and even Italians are beginning to recognise they have  a problem when a cup of coffee is served at one euro.

There are exceptions, Bar Italia in Soho for example.

I tried a cappuccino. Not as I expected, dark and over roasted. Served too hot and somewhat weak and insipid

I noticed bags of beans on sale. Roast date listed, where beans sourced from but nothing on where or who roasted by. Accountability, transparency, traceability is important. Every bean has a story to tell.

The aroma from one of the bags of beans pleasant.

Occasional live music.

Cappuccino at International Bomber Command Centre

February 11, 2018

Last visits to the International Bomber Command Centre were a couple of weeks ago when not yet open to the public, press day and a preview for veterans, I was curious what it was like now open to the public, what better way to find out than to drop in for a cappuccino.

Sunday roast dinner at the Butcher and Beast at Heighington, then on to the International Bomber Command Centre for a cappuccino.

I was pleasantly surprised on arrival to find how many cars parked in the car park, almost full.

Shocked to find have to pay £3 to park. This was a planning condition imposed by the local council. The money will go to the centre, but only I assume after covering the cost of the parking machines.

How to access by public transport I do not know.

There needs to be access from South Common, otherwise quite a trek if on foot.

Speaking with the Director, previous weekend, the first weekend open to the public,  was even busier, I think she said 1100 visitors.

Excellent news, as they need visitor numbers to make the centre viable and provide cash flow.

On entering the open plan reception area, I noticed cabinets arranged corralling a central area, books on sale, souvenirs, including bags of coffee and tea.

The range of books quite limited. I assume not long open, hopefully a wider selection in the near future.

My cappuccino, too hot, weak and insipid. Classic mistake to serve piping hot.

The coffee served, Bomber Command blend, is a blend from Brazil, supplied by Stokes, exclusive to IBCC.

The Bomber Command beans are on sale, but already ground. For freshness, beans have to be whole, ground on demand. Also essential when supply beans, the roast date, best by or use by is meaningless.

Information on the bag about a Bomber Command pilot from Brazil, but nothing about the beans, where sourced from in Brazil, Q grade, not even if Arabica or heaven forbid Robusta.

Also on sale Bomber Command tea, again exclusive to IBCC supplied by Stokes. Disappointingly, in tea bags, not loose leaf tea.

Café W

January 31, 2018

What used to be Ottaker’s in the High Street got taken over by Waterstone’s. It had a Costa, which has been replaced by Café W.

Ambience ok nearly always empty apart from a few working on laptops or reading books scavenged from the book shelves.

Girl serving pleasant enough though not a clue on coffee. I have never ever seen anyone pour out of the side of a pouring jug. She did at least ask did I want chocolate.

My cappuccino undrinkable. Served piping hot and a very unpleasant bitter taste indicating rubbish coffee.

The coffee Mathew Algie catering supply. A skilled barista would be pushed to do anything with this rubbish.

Yes, excellent Waterstone’s have kicked out Costa, but if running as your own coffee shop, at least buy in quality coffee, employ skilled baristas and buy a decent espresso machine and grinder. Otherwise why bother?

For excellent coffee in Lincoln try Coffee Aroma, Madame Waffle and Makushi.

Grand Coffee House

January 20, 2018

An integral part of the Lincoln City Bus Station, Grand Coffee House.

Ambience and design everything would expect of an artisan coffee shop, to then having had  expectations raised, to be let down by the poor quality coffee.

Sacks as cushions, old recycled cable drums as tables.

Cappuccino served piping hot with chocolate dumped on top.

Cappuccino is not served piping hot, nor with chocolate dumped on top, and at the very least ask before dumping chocolate on top.

If wishing to open a quality coffee shop, and care has been taken with the design, that equal care has to taken with the coffee, which at the very least means sourcing quality coffee and employing skilled baristas.

For a  bus station, a kiosk would suffice, if the intended clientele are the bus passengers, grabbing a coffee exiting the bus station, grabbing a coffee when catching a bus.

The growing sector of the coffee market is speciality coffee.

For rubbish coffee we have the chains.

If we are to cut waste, cut plastic pollution, we have to end the grab it and go consumerist culture.

For the takeaway market, ideally located to catch passengers for bus and train, indeed will probably hit badly the chains in the High Street, which is good news, as which will be more convenient, grabbing a coffee in the High Street or grabbing a coffee at the bus station either when arriving or when about to catch bus or train?

In the UK we throwaway 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups every year. We should be discouraging not encouraging takeaway coffee, encourage relax in an indie coffee shop with quality coffee served in glass or ceramic and at the very least, compostable coffee cups, reusable coffee cups on sale with a substantial discount if use a reusable cup for a refill.

Saturday very busy and yet no one about, the bus station empty, not yet open.  It will therefore be very busy once the bus station opens.

The coffee shop officially opens when the bus station opens.  Why not in that first week, special offer on KeepCup, first coffee free, substantial discount thereafter?

The coffee not great, better than the chains better than Stokes on High Bridge, but there are far better places in Lincoln for coffee, Coffee Aroma, Madame Waffle, Makushi, for those who love coffee.

There are no toilets, have to go out in the cold to the toilets on the first floor in the bus station and pay 20p to access the toilets.

How was planning consent obtained when there are no toilets?

Lincoln City Council are the landlords, interviewed potential tenants for the coffee shop.  What  does the Town Hall know of coffee shops or coffee?

For those wanting a takeaway coffee they are going to be hit with a double whammy, 25p latte levy, 20p to use the toilet, making it an expensive takeaway coffee.

The coffee shop is run by Café 44 in Sincil Street. Locally owned and they are sourcing locally, which means money is cycled within the local economy.

The name comes from the Grand Hotel that used to occupy the site.

 

Lincoln City Bus Station

January 20, 2018

What is claimed to be a state-of-the-art bus station, it has automatic doors and a few display screens, part of a so-called Transport Hub linked to Lincoln Central Station.

A very cold day, barely above freezing and yet colder inside the bus station than outside.

The new bus station resembles a regional airport terminal building, absent the Duty Free and same shops find in any shopping centre.

Two Jobsworth from Lincoln City Council manning an Information Desk, did not know the cost of the bus station. Figures of £12 million have been bandied about. Although after several minutes looking on-line,  they were able to give a figure of £30 million for bus station, car park and cosmetic changes to the railway station.  This figure has been widely reported in the media, why did they not know?

A new road currently runs between bus and train station. Work having been done, this will be paved over and made pedestrian between bus and train station.

Pedestrianised as the farce in the town centre, where heavy lorries are allowed through after four in the afternoon, but take no notice of any restrictions and drive through before four as no enforcement?

The empty windswept plaza outside the train station has far less parking spots for pick up and drop off than before, probably less than a quarter.  Our helpful jobsworth could see nothing wrong with this.

There was no information at the Information Desk. Not even timetables.

The only bus timetable information was in a cardboard box by one of the bays, no one had troubled to place in racks.  This information was a simple leaflet telling what routes if any had timetable changes, but no actual timetables.

Automatic doors open to allow passenger to board or disembark from their bus. This is going to be fun when it goes wrong.

A barrier acts as a deterrent to terrorists hijacking a bus and driving into the terminal building. Or maybe a safeguard if a driver goes crazy.

A state-of-the art bus station that lacks wifi.

Elsewhere in the country, not only do the buses have wifi, they have usb charging points.

Toilets on the first floor. Cheap and tacky. Will not withstand the wear and tear of a bus station.

It is not acceptable to have to pay 20p to use the toilet.

A so-called Transport Hub that lacks direct trains to either London or York. There should be direct trains on the hour every hour.

This is claimed to be part of a  regeneration project. Why is it that local Town Halls always claim urban destruction to be regeneration?  The same number of people will be travelling every day by bus and train. How is this regeneration?

The City Council in bed with the Coop, has destroyed Sincil Street, a once thriving street of independent thriving local family business.

Integral to the bus station a coffee shop, Grand Coffee House.

Work is still ongoing, heavy machinery at work.

The old bus station was a disgrace, demolition a step in the right direction.

Easier access between bus and train also an improvement.

All we now need is a reliable bus services, buses that run on time.

The irony is most passengers seem to prefer the temporary bus station the other side of the railway tracks. Quick access into and out of town, quick access into the High Street through a narrow alleyway or over the railway bridge into Sincil Street.