Posts Tagged ‘speciality coffee’

Nick’s Coffee Bike

October 3, 2018

To find coffee worth drinking in Cyprus is a rarity.

To find specialty coffee in Larnaca in a street lined with every disgusting corporate chain can think of, McDonald’s, Starbucks, Coffee Island (Greek version of Starbucks), Ocean Basket (seafood equivalent of McDonald’s), where an independent coffee shop is made to look like a corporate chain and may as well be when serving LavAzza, to find good coffee, is like finding a pearl on the dirty grey beach, a cause to celebrate, to dance in the street.

And there it was a sign for Nick’s Coffee Bike, with a promise of specialty coffee and beyond the sign a bicycle, strictly speaking a tricycle, with Nick himself chatting to customers when not serving coffee.

The bicycle Nick had imported from Manchester, stripped and rebuilt.

Nick had learnt coffee by working coffee in Manchester the only way to learn.

The coffee he serves is from Has Bean, one of the top coffee roasteries in the UK.

A pouring jug from Coffee Lab in UK, designed by Dhan Tamang, UK latte art champion for six years author of Coffee Art.

Nick participated in a coffee throw down at TAKK a coffee shop in Manchester and came first. His prize was the pouring jug and the book.

I ordered a cappuccino. It was excellent.

I had been told Nick was one of the best baristas in Cyprus. I would not beg to differ. Knowledgeable and passionate about coffee.

A person of integrity, willing to take the risk to do something he believes in, to follow his dreams.

A risk that appears to be paying off.

A steady steam of customers, many greeted him as old friends even though he had only been there for a couple of months. One customer told me she was from Romania had tried the coffee yesterday and was back today, the first time she had found decent coffee in Cyprus.

The coffee cups in what must be a first for Cyprus are compostable.

Cyprus is an island, it is dependent on the sea. Plastic is killing the sea. Everywhere serves coffee in plastic, in plastic-lined cups.

At first I thought he was not in a good location. But on reflection this is an excellent location, as away from the ghastly chains and in front of Larnaca Marina.

A little way past the coffee bike exercise machines. An excellent idea.

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The Underdog team

February 10, 2018

New season starts at The Underdog. 

The Underdog, one of my favourite coffee shops in Athens.

Wonderful atmosphere, fantastic coffee, people who know their coffee.

Saturday and Sunday, a pedestrian street running past The Acropolis is turned into a  street market, The Underdog is just off this street.

Now four world champion baristas. Manos Mamatis, Coffee in Good Spirits World Championship No 2 2017.

  • 2008 Tasos Delichristos
  • 2015 George Koustoumparais
  • 2016 Michalis Dimitratopolos
  • 2017 Manos Mamatis second place

Not bad for one coffee shop.

I had the honour and privilege of being served by Manos Mamatis. I learnt a lot from our conversations.

Like Taylor Made, ultra trendy. I later learnt same designer.

Avoid Sunday if wish to relax, very busy and the noise on entering deafening.

Multi level, a roastery below, serving area, various brew methods, railway sleepers as table. Standart and Drift available to browse, though not on sale.

The Underdog supply coffee to other coffee shops, but as with Square Mile in London,  exact high standards if you wish to use their coffee.

At the weekend from Acropoli Metro Station, stroll along Dionysiou Areopagitou, it runs between the Museum and The Acropolis. Do not visit The Acropolis at weekends, too crowded. Then turn around to the right along Apostolou Pavlou. At weekends lined with stalls and musicians. It also leads a back way into Agora of Athens. Past a few cafes and bars, then more stalls. Eventually a Metro station reached. Backtrack to the bars and restaurants, and take a turning to the right for The Underdog. Easily missed as a fairly nondescript building on the outside.

Why buy coffee from a supermarket?

July 24, 2017

The furore created by the decision of Sainsbury’s to ditch FairTrade has raised two separate but interrelated questions. Why FairTrade, why buy coffee from a supermarket? Which leads to another, are there not superior alternatives?

Since the furore arose I have checked out the shelves of three UK supermarkets, Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose, and for comparison a little indie food shop Food for Thought.

Asda and Sainsbury’s were stacked with rubbish undrinkable brand coffee. Only a small section with what could remotely be called quality coffee.

In Waitrose, half the shelf space stocked with an attempt at quality, the other half rubbish brand coffee. If nothing else, exposing the lie Waitrose shoppers have good taste.

One of the criticisms of Sainsbury’s pulling out of FairTrade, was that in Waitrose will find FairTrade.

I did not, maybe I should have looked harder.

I did though find coffee from Union Hand-Roasted Coffee. Quality coffee, not FairTrade but direct trade. It was the only coffee with a roast date, old coffee, past its best.

FairTrade is little more than a brand to make buyers feel good, they have done their bit by picking up a bag of FairTrade coffee.

Coffee is traded on international commodity markets, Arabica in New York, Robusta in London. It has no intrinsic value, it is a commodity to speculate on. Unfortunately the price speculators will gamble on, impacts on the livelihoods of coffee growers, as everything is pegged to that price.

Coffee roasters in search of quality coffee, speciality coffee, will pay for quality, the higher the quality the higher the price. There is an incentive to produce higher quality as a higher price will be paid. FairTrade offers no incentive for quality, it locks farmers into poverty dependent upon handouts.

Coffee roasters want quality, not only this year but next year, the year after. They will enter into long-term agreements with farmers, partnerships, help them improve quality, adopt better agricultural practices that improve the soil fertility, safeguard forests.

Kew Gardens have been mapping forests in Ethiopia to establish the impact of climate change and what mitigation measures to take. To safeguard the forest, which is an important genetic resource for coffee as contains many wild coffee trees, the forest has to have value. The forest has value by Union paying a higher price for the coffee, not only paying a higher price, working with the farmers to help them improve the quality, establishing a cupping lab in order that the farmers themselves can assess the quality of their coffee.

Another example is the Los Nogales Project on an estate in El Salvador owned by the Salaverria family. One estate, three farms, different varieties, different plots, different processing of the beans. Taylor St Roasted and Horsham Coffee Roast are sourcing from Los Nogales Project.

Square Mile has a similar project, though not as ambitious. Short Stories, same varieties of beans, grown at different altitudes.

Indie coffee shops want quality coffee, as that is what their customers are demanding. This feeds back to higher prices for coffee.

If you want quality coffee, coffee that is freshly roasted, then buy the bags of coffee from the coffee shop, or failing that, little shops that specialise in quality, or direct from the roasters.

If you want to support growers, drink quality coffee, why are you buying from a supermarket?

Little shops like Grocer and GrainThe Deli at 80, Food for Thought, have quality coffee in stock, as does the slightly larger Infinity Foods.

Indie coffee shops that are brewing quality coffee, will often have coffee for sale, often they roast their own.

Failing that, there are many quality coffee roasters, Has BeanUnionSquare Mile, Taylor St Roasted, Horsham Coffee RoasterThe Roasting PartyKaruna Coffee, to name but a few.

The furore relating to Sainsbury’s pulling out of FairTrade should be turned around, why are people buying coffee from Sainsbury’s, when if you like coffee, want to support growers, you should be supporting the coffee trade by supporting the local indie coffee shop, the little shop stocking quality coffee or buying direct from the coffee roasters who engage in direct trade. In doing so you are not only supporting the coffee growers with higher prices, you are also supporting the local economy.