Posts Tagged ‘No to Costa’

Lunch at Café Mila

October 23, 2012
potato, leak and pea soup

potato, leak and pea soup

Like last week, it was quiet, though did fill up people coming in for afternoon tea.

I had leak, potato and pea soup. It had a strange smoky taste.

Followed by vegetable bake. It was not what I experted. I expected something like what I get at the Guildford Institute.

Followed by carrot cake and pot of tea.

It was a misty afternoon in Godalming.

Coffee replaces beer as drink of choice for cash-strapped students

October 22, 2012

A university bar in Wales has been forced to close as students swap cider for cappucino as a cheaper option in an era of £9,000 a year tuition fees.

coffee v beer

coffee v beer

A student bar at Aberystwyth University, where Prince Charles once spent a term, has shut due to a lack of patronage from students who have grown up in a Britain more preoccupied with “coffee culture”.

Student president Ben Meakin said: “More students are drinking coffee during the day while studying – and fewer are going out late into the night.”

The 15,000 students who attend the university were once well known for their love of drinking and a “party hard” mentality, but that has changed with the current undergraduate cohort – who will pay £9,000 in fees.

Mr Meakin added: “This is partly because of the rise in tuition fees and students having to face further financial hardship.

“So the university have chosen to improve the main union building to make it a more appealing living room on campus during the day time.”

Institutions including Birmingham, Exeter and City University in London all serve Starbucks or Costa branded coffee on campus.

Elsewhere in Wales, Glyndwr University shut its union bar and moved it last summer and Cardiff Met chose to open a new coffee bar franchise.

A National Union of Students has charted the rise in popularity of gourmet coffee among students in a report, which emphasised: “Students’ Unions will need to embrace the whole coffee experience.

“For those students who do not wish to spend significant levels of their income on alcoholic drinks coffee shops are a promising prospect.”

Entire forums on the popular Student Room website are dedicated to coffee loving students and to the purchase and care of their espresso machines.

The rise of “coffee culture” is imported from the US, where alcohol is illegal in many states for under-21s and a larger workload means students are not able to drink alcohol socially as often as their British counterparts.

First published in The Telegraph.

A good example of sloppy journalism.

Of what relevance Prince Charles once drank in a bar in Cardiff?

Students always have drank coffee, they drank it in their rooms, in their kitchens, invited mate round for a chat.

What is new, over the last decade, is binge drinking.

I would even question is drinking coffee cheaper than drinking beer. Whitbread bought, the rapidly expanded the Costa chain because more money is to be made from coffee than brewing beer.

What is disgusting is the way Starbucks and Costa are taking over university campuses. Are universities and students no longer capable of running their own coffee bars?

Costa Franchisee of the Year Award beggars belief

October 18, 2012
Costa obstructing the highway in Guildford

Costa obstructing the highway in Guildford

Bruno Costa regrets selling the company he founded and which bears his family name.

It is easy to see why. Costa has squired a well deserved reputation as a rogue corporation: muscling into towns unwanted, serving lousy coffee, poor working conditions, and less we forget, opening stores without planning consent.

What were Stuart and Lynn Montgomery named UK Franchisees of the Year for, opening two stores in Bristol, Whiteladies and Gloucester Road, without planning consent?

A Bristol councillor has said he is “astounded” by the award. Is this a green light to flout planning legislation? It would seem so when Costa grants awards to those who do.

It cannot even be claimed, they did not know what they were doing when they opened their Costa coffee shops without planning consent, as they made an application and were refused.

This is the second year in a row these two have received the award.

Green councillor Gus Hoyt was none too pleased:

I am quite astounded by this news. Costa are often accused of not caring about the communities they enter and here they are rewarding the man who caused such an upset on Gloucester Road.

Costa claim they add to the local high streets but in this case Mr Montgomery moved into a street with a great abundance of local and independent coffee shops. His shop will affect these business adversely.

If profit and a store on every street is their only motivator then at least they are honest in awarding Mr Montgomery as someone they look up to and treasure.

The people of Bristol in the localities where these franchisees operate have a very simple solution, Boycott Costa! The indie coffee shops in the area should implement the Costa (dis)Loyalty Card scheme and of course accept the Bristol Pound.

If nothing else it exposes as a liar Costa chief executive Chris Rogers following a recent visit to Totnes to hold discussions with the local Member of Parliament and opponents to Costa muscling their way into Totnes.

Founder of Costa regrets selling the chain he founded

October 16, 2012

Imagine establishing a chain of quality coffee shops, selling to Big Business, only to see the chain you founded bastardised, become byword for rubbish coffee.

That is what has happened to Bruno Costa, who with his brother Sergio Costa, co-founded in the 1970s the coffee chain that bears their family name. Costa was acquired by Whitbread in 1995.

Costa in Protaras

Costa in Protaras in Cyprus

His comments come as Costa is set to open its sixth outlet in Purley, leading Mr Costa to liken coffee chains to Tesco, saying they have “taken over”.

In a candid interview with the Advertiser, the Italian-born entrepreneur also said he no longer drinks the blend he co-invented, and regrets selling the business.

Mr Costa, 70, said: “As far as the coffee business is concerned, like here in Purley, I know it is monopolised by these three or four companies that don’t give much chance to the smaller ones.

“It reflects what the supermarkets have done to smaller shops in the high streets.

“I like Purley very much. It is still a small community which is nice to go down to the centre, but the likes of Tesco have taken over.

“We were lucky at the time [we started Costa] that a Starbucks wasn’t nearby.”

The first Costa shop was opened by Bruno and Sergio in London Victoria 34 years ago. Today, the chain has more than 1,390 outlets across the UK today and Bruno admits some misgivings about selling the firm.

“Yes, I have regrets,” he said.

“Regrets that we should have brought more of the family into the business and then get further maybe, not as much as Whitbread has now done. But there was room and space to improve by a big percentage on what we had done.

“It would have been nice for myself and my brother to carry on and bring the right people in.

“It would be very nice to be the head of that company again.”

The brothers, from northern Italy, founded the business in 1970 after the family moved to England 10 years earlier because they could not find work in their home country.

What started as a single roasting machine producing a blend that they sold to bars, hotels and restaurants, culminated in the opening of their first shop in Vauxhall Bridge Road.

Mr Costa sold up shortly after the London launch, selling his half to his brother, who controlled the business for another ten years before Whitbread bought it out.

Asked why he sold up, Mr Costa explained: “We were selling coffee to a country that was drinking tea; the taste for coffee was only in the rest of Europe at this point.”

Mr Costa later became a shareholder in an export company supplying supermarkets with fine Italian foods.

He remains the director of three companies; La Porcellana Limited, Tableware International Limited and Inista Properties Limited, according to Companies House records.

Although he is “impressed with the quality” of blend the UK’s largest chain has retained, he says he now prefers Nespresso.

Asked for the secret to a proper cup of coffee, Mr Costa revealed: “First of all, the most important thing is the blend, to achieve the right taste.

“Secondly, the coffee machines are very important, because with the technique you have to train the staff to make it the proper way, the right amount of everything.

“The milk and water also have to be at the correct temperature.”

Top Story in The Grande Latte (Wednesday 17 October 2012)

Top Story in The Coffee House (Wednesday 17 October 2012).

Starbucks stands accused not only of serving rubbish coffee but dodging tax

October 16, 2012

Starbucks sucks!

Starbucks is not a place to go for decent coffee, nor is it a good place to work. Starbucks now stand accused of dodging tax, yet another reason not to patronise Starbucks.

Starbucks has paid just £8.6 million in taxes on a reported £3 billion in UK sales since 1998, when it launched its first UK coffee shop, despite having opened 735 outlets, according to a four-month investigation by Reuters.

In the past three years, Starbucks has paid no tax on its UK earnings after recording annual losses in company accounts, despite US executives of the Seattle company claiming in telephone calls with investors, transcripts of which have been seen by Reuters, that the UK business was profitable.

If nothing else, this is unfair competition to indie coffee shops who do pay their taxes.

Tax consultant Richard Murphy:

When we have a tax system that lets very large companies like Starbucks be on our High Street and pay no tax and are competing with small locally owned businesses who are paying tax on all their profits, then there’s something very clearly wrong with our tax system.

In 2007, the chief operating officer, Martin Coles, told analysts in a fourth quarter results presentation that the UK unit’s profits were funding Starbucks’ expansion in overseas markets. The chief finance officer at the time, Peter Bocian, added that the UK division enjoyed operating profit margins of almost 15% that year, equivalent to nearly £50m in profit.

Accounts filed with Companies House, which must be a truthful reflection of the business, according to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), showed a 10th consecutive annual loss.

A year later, after filing a £26m loss in the UK, Starbucks’ chief executive, Howard Schultz, told investors the business here was so successful he planned to apply the lessons to the company’s biggest market, the US.

Starbucks generated £398m in UK sales last year but paid no corporation tax.

UK Uncut now has Starbucks in their sights.

Starbucks would appear to be exploiting all ends of the coffee businesses: failure to pay farmers a fair price, charge extortionate price for rubbish coffee, poor working conditions for low pay, failure to pay fair share of tax

I would boycott Starbucks, except like Costa, it is not somewhere I would be seen dead. On the other hand I would be more than happy to join UK Uncut in occupying their coffee shops to highlight their tax dodging activities.

I would suggest all indie coffee shops, as well as participating in the Costa (dis)Loyalty Card scheme, stick up a poster along the lines: Unlike Starbucks we pay our fair share of tax!

Top Story in The wk4coffee Daily (Wednesday 17 October 2012).

Top Story in The wk4coffee Daily (Thursday 18 October 2012).

Top Story in Mo’s Coffee News (Thursday 18 October 2012).

Coffee shop in Waitrose Alton

October 16, 2012


The only reason I was in Waitrose was dysfunctional public transport system and a 40 minute wait for the next train, having been on a bus from Winchester to Alton that is timed to arrive at the station as the train is due to leave.

The last time I was here the store had not long opened. The coffee shop looked far better than Costa and a very pleasant, cheerful and helpful girl behind the counter. This evening a woman who made it obvious she would rather be anywhere else other than where she was, in other words the service to be expected in Costa.

I ordered cappuccino and a carrot cake. A ten minute wait, though I was warned a couple of minutes wait as the machine had started a self-cleaning cycle. The machine I noticed was dirty from spilt coffee. I am used to machines being spotless.

The cappuccino was ok, far better than the awful coffee in Costa. The carrot cake was rubbish, a typical factory mass-produced cake. The coffee was fair trade.

Lunch at The Bridge Patisserie

October 16, 2012
absolutely disgusting iced espresso

absolutely disgusting iced espresso

I could not see why The Bridge Patisserie was receiving bad reviews on TripAdvisor, today I saw why.

I have eaten at The Bridge Patisserie before and enjoyed it, but today was a big disappointment.

No soup, little choice to eat. Always little choice to eat.

I picked so-called Cornish-style pasty with salad.

Although nicely presented, the Cornish pasty was not very good and the salad was insubstantial.

Still feeling hungry, I thought maybe a cake, but it is always the same tarts, and last time I had a tart it was not very good. For a patisserie, ie a cake shop, they are very poor on their choice of cakes.

A freddo cappuccino would have been nice. Owner had no idea what it was and made it very clear she was not interested and had better things to do than find out.

OK, try a freddo espresso (iced espresso) I suggested.

What was served was disgusting. An ordinary glass, full of ice. It looked disgusting, it tasted disgusting.

The same art exhibition on the walls as over a month ago.

Tables and chairs need putting on a Fifth of November bonfire.

When I came to pay, the owner in an unpleasant tone of voice shouted to the girl: Charge him for an espresso. It was so disgusting I should have refused to pay for it.

Disaster struck. My camera was full. I decided to delete a few pictures. I do not know what I did wrong. I deleted all the pictures.


October 13, 2012
Kiara's a tea shop in Farnham

Kiara’s a tea shop in Farnham

Kiara’s is a tea shop in Farnham thats serves delicious cakes.

It was a cold wet afternoon in Farnham.

I had had a roll in Morello’s, a lovely Italian coffee shop across the road. As they were closing early it was not possible to have a tea and cake, hence my crossing the road to Kiara’s.

I was quite surprised to find Kiara’s packed, as when I have looked in before it has been empty.

It is more of a parlour than a tea shop as when you walk in it is as though you have walked into a parlour, books line the walls. Even more so if you walk upstairs, where you will find two parlours.

I have suggested they add a few Paulo Coelho books to their bookshelves.

Afternoon tea is £12-50. This I thought must be a mistake, but no, it was correct.

I ordered tea (which came as small pot of tea, and I am sorry to report a tea bag inside) and carrot cake.

The carrot cake was delicious, though not as good as carrot cake at Cafe Mila in Godalming.

A girl came through carrying a tiered tray. I thought she was topping up the cake display, but no, this was afternoon tea for two. Quite an impressive spread. In fact the two people could not eat it all and asked to take it away. Very depressing they were given a polystyrene burger box not a cake box. I wish people were more environmentally aware.

It was now late afternoon.

I could have caught the bus at 1704, but decide to visit The Barn and catch the 1804 bus.

Win a hamper of artisan, organic coffee

October 5, 2012
coffee at Costa: freddo cappuccino should not look like this!

coffee at Costa: freddo cappuccino should not look like this!

To win a hamper of organic coffee from Owens Coffee is simple, post a picture that best expresses your disgust as to why not drink coffee at Costa.

There are many reasons not to drink coffee at Costa:

  • poor quality coffee
  • it requires skill to make quality coffee
  • factory cakes
  • dingy lacking in character corporate shops
  • opening shops without planning consent
  • obstruction of public highway
  • poor working conditions
  • unfair competition to indie coffee shops
  • failure to pay fair price for milk from British farmers
  • not fair trade tea and coffee
  • extraction of money from local economies
  • destroying the character of the High Street
  • muscling their way into towns where not wanted

The winner of the competition will receive a jute hamper donated by Owens Coffee — the artisan, organic coffee roasters located in the lovely town of Modbury, South Devon.

In Totnes, Dr Sarah Wollaston MP is talking to Costa and they are close to agreeing a date for a meeting which we really welcome. To date Sarah Wollaston has been ignored, as has the people of Totnes, but Costa has been willing to talk to the Sun!

Why Costa is not welcome in Totnes (and what is true for Totnes is mainly true elsewhere):

  • shopfitters and the signmakers not local
  • their new coffee shop is in one of Totnes many listed building
  • the promised 12 jobs may actually mean 5-6 (and established jobs lost elsewhere)
  • none of their food will be sourced locally
  • noise and deliveries congesting the High Street
  • tables, chairs, boards obstructing the High Street
  • eyesore Costa sign in a historic setting
  • growth at any cost, a Costa on every corner

Expansion is not only in the UK. Cyprus has 15 Costa coffee shops with the intention of flooding the island with Costa coffee shops.

The message has to be got across to Costa that they are not wanted.

So, let’s put our creative thinking caps on and come up with some images expressing our feelings about Costa Coffee.

About the prize:

The winning entry will receive two packs of organic Owens Coffee in a jute hamper. You may select the blend of your choice. Owens Coffee roasts to order for optimum freshness and supplies some of the finest café’s, restaurants, pubs and retail establishments in Devon. All their coffee is roasted, blended and packaged on site from a carefully chosen, seasonal selection of the finest 100% Arabica beans to ensure a consistent high quality product. And, Owens Coffee is Fairtrade and certified Organic!

Competition closes 17 October 2012.

Coffee at Sunrise Pearl

September 30, 2012
coffee at Sunrise Pearl

coffee at Sunrise Pearl

coffee at Sunrise Pearl

coffee at Sunrise Pearl

Two coffee lattes, one freddo cappuccino on the terrace at Sunrise Pearl overlooking the pools and beach.

The freddo cappuccino better than a few nights ago as the waiter instucted the barman how to make, but not as good as at patisserie amelie, partly due to lack of skill but also due to the use of inferior coffee, but far better than Costa (it would have to be very bad to be worse).

Sunrise Pearl is a 5* hotel in Protaras in Cyprus.