Posts Tagged ‘Stokes on High Bridge’

Stokes on High Bridge re-opens takeaway only

June 17, 2020

Day eighty five of lockdown, first day Stokes on High Bridge open.

Being their first day after closed for several weeks I expected a very long queue. No queue.

Hand sanitiser outside the store for customers to use.

Serving coffee and toasties. Only one lady serving, brewing coffee, making toasties.

I thought have a coffee, maybe a cheese and ham toasty. Not possible, card only.

Stokes need to think again card only. Everywhere else preference for contactless card, but accepting cash. They are going to lose many of their elderly customers. Maybe that explains no queue.

A large empty sterile space in front of Stokes on High Bridge, more than sufficient space for Stokes to spread their tables in the street. This is being blocked by intransigence of local councils.

The local councils have had weeks during lockdown to have in place plans for indie coffee shops, tea shops and restaurants to park their tables in the street, to enable them to open whilst maintaining two metres social distancing. Win win for everyone. It could have happened in May. Revitalises the High Street, helps local businesses back on their feet, improves the city centre ambience.

Without tables in the street many local businesses will die. They are too small to meet social distancing rules. Takeaway coffee is not a viable option. OK for a kiosk, but not for a coffee shop or restaurant with higher overheads. They  are surviving currently with staff on furlough, rent deferred. But what then when these schemes end?

Stokes at the Lawn currently not open.

Coffee Aroma will open on the first of July, takeaway only. They asked to put tables in the street. An emphatic no from County Hall, not even the courtesy of an explanation.

Madame Waffle not open any time soon.

Bookstop Cafe open, had tables outside, ordered by City Council to remove.

 

Reclaim the Streets Lincoln

June 13, 2020

Saturday 13 June 2020 day eighty two of coronavirus lockdown in Lincoln. How many weeks has the city had to pedestrianise the city centre leading up to and including Bailgate, to enable independent coffee shops and restaurants to put their tables in the streets?

It is a tragedy the number of coffee shops and tea rooms either closed or eking out a meagre living on takeaways.

Sincil Street two coffee shops, Central Coffee House and 200 Degrees.

Central Coffee House closed, overlooks sterile open space. No indication of when or if it will open.

200 Degrees opened a few weeks ago for takeaway, overlooks a sterile open space.

Stokes on High Bridge, High Street, will open in a few days time for takeaway only.

Coffee Aroma closed. Will open sometime in the near future for takeaway only. They wished to open with tables in the street. They asked and received an emphatic no from County Hall.

Unfortunately we will not agree to you increasing the number of tables and chairs you use or the size of the area that you have at the current time (your enclosure needs to still be only outside the frontage of your premises).

Not even the courtesy of an explanation.

Angel Coffee House, closed, no indication if or when may open.

Madame Waffle closed. Not open in the foreseeable future. Will announce when open.

Margaret’s Tea Room. Open for tea and coffee takeaway. Overlooks a square where would love to place tables.

The Cheese Society currently closed, adjacent to the same square overlooked by Margaret’s Tea Room, where they too could place tables and chairs.

Many tea shops on Steep Hill, but not open, no indication if or when will open.

I talked to the owner of one tea shop. She thinks she may be able to open with restrictions on numbers but no idea when.

The one exception, Bookstop Cafe, located in a Norman croft below a Norman building which houses Imperials Teas, purveyors of fine tea, coffee and chocolate. They opened a few weeks ago for takeaway tea and coffee, tables outside. The tables removed by edict of  a Town Hall jobsworth acting like the Stasi on a tip off.

In Bailgate only Sanctuary in the Bail open for takeaway tea and coffee. Would love to see Bailgate pedestrianised and tables in the street.

There are several restaurants in Bailgate. Only Elite on the Bail open, serving takeaway fish n chips out the back. Elite on the Bail overlooks a square where tables could be placed.

We must reclaim the streets.

We hear the sound of birdsong, the streets are traffic free, the cities are pollution free. There can be no return to normal as normal was not normal.

We have been jolted into another now. We must maintain our city centres car and pollution free.

In Athens in the evening the streets turn into restaurants. Athens is expanding its network of pedestrianised streets.

Northern Ireland is looking at expanding the number of tables in the streets.

Sheffield has plans to expand pedestrianised streets.

Paragon Chambers in Hull, coffee shop encouraged to place tables outside.

North Laine in Brighton the restaurants, coffee shops and other shops are in the street. There are plans to expand the pedestrianised streets.

Soho has plans to pedestrianise the area, turn into one large open air coffee shop and restaurant. Currently awaiting approval from Westminster Council.

Unless indie coffee shops and restaurants are allowed to spread their tables into pedestrianised streets few will survive covid-19 pandemic.

Many coffee shops have no future. Too small to manage social distancing. A kiosk can survive on takeaway only, a coffee shop with higher overheads cannot.

We had sunniest May on record, Mediterranean climate. The tragedy indie coffee shops and restaurants were not able to spread their tables into the street.

Win win for everyone. Kick starts the local economy, maintains social distancing, helps local businesses back on their feet, improves city centre ambience.

It is not only coffee shops at risk it is the entire supply chain. There are the coffee roasteries that supply the coffee shops, the growers who supply the coffee beans.

We all have to act. If not, we lose our coffee shops.

Talk to local councils and councillors, change the mindset that allows traffic into city centres, pedestrianise the city centre, allow indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread their tables into the street, no chains no pubs No Smoking.

Government has to extend furlough for local businesses if they are unable to open. Reducing social distancing from two metres to one metre does not help as it greatly increases the risk for staff and customers.

Lincoln should follow the example of Soho, Soho Summer Street Festival, introduce with immediate effect temporary measures for the summer, Sincil Street, High Street, Cornhill, The Strait, Steep Hill, Castle Hill and Bailgate, pedestrianised, tables in the street, indie coffee shops and restaurants, no chains no pubs No Smoking. Then carry out consultation with the aim to make permanent.

Update: Excellent news from Soho. The area to be pedestrianised, roads closed to traffic, indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread their tables into the streets. And not only Soho, Covent Garden and other areas too. The excellent news from Soho only serves to Illustrate how backward Lincoln and lacking in vision. County Hall and City Hall have had weeks to implement a similar scheme in Lincoln, enable indie coffee shops and restaurants to spread their tables into the street, to help them get back into businesses. It revitalises the local economy, improves the ambience of the city centre.

Coffee beans from Stokes on High Bridge

September 19, 2017

Last week I had been recommended at The Lawn, try our Ethiopian beans.

Unfortunately, and somewhat perversely, roasted at The Lawn, but not on sale at The Lawn, have to trek down to Stokes on High Bridge which is a coffee shop in both senses of the word.

I looked through what was on offer, maybe half a dozen coffee beans.

I settled on Ethiopian Hunda Oli, which I think is what I had been recommended.

I asked of the roast date. The girl serving apologised and said she did not know, as she was only a trainee.

Not a problem, and I offered to explain why roast date was important.

We were rudely interrupted by a lady who said she does the training here.

She checked and told me April, I cannot recall was it 24 or 28 April.

I was astounded, especially when the lady who was in charge of training told me  that it was not a problem.

I could not be bothered arguing with her level of ignorance on coffee, and asked of a different Ethiopian coffee, not what I wanted, but on the other hand, I did not want old beans ether.

I settled for roasted in August, 18 August 2017, which the helpful trainee kindly wrote on the bag. Not ideal, but better than April.

I noticed they still had on sale the second edition of The Northern Independent Coffee Guide, not the latest third edition with the new title  The North and North Wales Independent Coffee Guide, as now includes Wales.

I did not ask why they did not have the latest edition, when other coffee shops in Lincoln have the latest edition, but at a guess, Stokes is featured in the second edition, have been relegated to footnotes in the third edition.

Sadly it is all to easy to see why. Lack of knowledge of importance of roast date, best by is meaningless, does not bode well. Nor that the last time I had  cappuccino from their house blend it was undrinkable.

It was then to Madame Waffle where an excellent cappuccino and a bag of Keyon Mountain  beans from Square Mile Coffee roasted 28 August 2017.

In a supermarket you will not see roast date. The reason why, old beans.  Which is why always buy coffee from either the roaster or a reputable indie coffee shop

Waitrose is the rare exception, beans from Union have a roast date, but all too often past their best.

A coffee shop may have old beans, they may miscalculate their turnover, though they should rotate to avoid selling old beans.

There is no excuse for a coffee roaster to have old beans either in stock or on sale.

As I write, the coffee is on the table, aroma wafting by, both bags are in a brown paper bag, the Stokes also wrapped in a plastic bag.

With the Square Mile, a heirloom variety, I am getting a subtle aroma of chocolate, toffee or fudge, maybe vanilla.

With the Stokes, an overpowering aroma of roast coffee, no subtly.

I would though hasten to add, aroma is no indication of taste, as I learnt a few weeks ago at a cupping session at Taylor St Roasted.

I will learn more when brewed over the next few weeks.

To put the roast dates in context.  Last week, from Madame Waffle a Red Brick espresso blend from Square Mile roasted 10 August, from Coffee Aroma Has Bean espresso blend roasted 5 September, from Makushi a single origin from Costa Rica roasted 9 September, from The Little Tractor Coffee Shop a Kenyan single origin roasted 7 August.

When coffee is roasted, leave for about a week for the oils to adjust, then at its optimum for the next three weeks. 

A reputable coffee roaster will generally roast to order, then ship either that day or the next. 

A reputable coffee shop will order to demand, try to rotate the stock in order that no old beans are sitting on the shelves. 

There can be absolutely no excuse for a coffee roaster to have old beans on the shelves for sale to customers. 

Old beans, lack of understanding of the importance of roast date, undrinkable house blend, it comes as no surprise to see Stokes relegated in the latest indie coffee guide to more good cups and more good roasters. 

Stokes are a fourth generation coffee business that has unfortunately lost its way. Are they suppliers of catering supply coffee in a race to the bottom with Lincoln Tea and Coffee (suppliers of bagged low grade commodity coffee)? Or are they suppliers of speciality coffee?

At the very least, Stokes need to form a separate speciality coffee division, Stokes Speciality Coffee, have on sale at The Lawn with its own unique branding, the coffee shop as their flagship coffee shop. They have the skilled baristas, have invested in top of the range equipment, a pleasant environment, pleasant staff, all they now need are quality beans, hand-roasted, with a Q-grade of at least 84.

Cappuccino and latte at Stokes on High Bridge

April 25, 2017

Stokes used to set the standard for coffee.  Either they are going downhill or my taste is improving, not sure which.

A cappuccino that looked yuk, the taste was not great either.

I checked the beans on sale in jars, none had a pleasant aroma.

I was told the light roast not suited for espresso.

Not true. Try telling that to Makushi, single source, traced back to farm, light roast.

The least worst was beans from Nicaragua.  Medium roast

I was told roast earlier in the week or last week.

Then when they were weighed out, I checked again, told roast 17 February.

No way.

I settled for a blend, that is meant to emulate Blue Mountain.

They offered to grind.

No way.

As I write,  the aroma fills the room.

My cappuccino, and I assume the latte too, was from an espresso blend.

I headed up Steep Hill to Makushi, looking in Madame Waffle on the way where they source beans from Square Mile Coffee Roasters.

Cappuccino and latte at Stokes on High Bridge

February 16, 2017

The third wave is, in many ways, a reaction. It is just as much a reply to bad coffee as it is a movement toward good coffee. – Trish R Skeie, Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters

A cappuccino and latte plus a cookie at Stokes on High Bridge.

Cookie was excellent, but mixed feelings about the coffee.

We have third coffee wave, little indie coffee shops, small indie coffee roasters, coffee plantations, all working together to bring you the best in a cup of coffee.

The roasters go to the plantation, to ensure the best growing conditions, the best beans are then picked. Next stage is how the beans are extracted and washed. The coffee roaster attempt to bring out the best character of the beans. Finally the barista coaxes the best the beans can offer.

Get any part of the chain wrong, and you will have poor quality coffee.

Stokes, instead of moving forward embracing this third wave, are not standing still, they are regressing.

A latte should look good,  that is why it is served in glass. In Stokes, up until a couple of weeks ago, served an excellent latte, not any more.

A barista will take pride, not only in how the cappuccino is brewed but also in the art.

This used to be true of Stokes, not any more.

What is going wrong? Nothing like asking.

Orders from head office.  We have to serve the classic Italian cappuccino.  Repeated like an automaton with no great faith in what they were saying.

No, Italy does not serve great coffee. This is to go backwards.

It is a myth Italy is associated with good coffee. That myth has arisen because the Italians invented the espresso machine, though the French may beg to differ.

The myth that Italy is synonomous with quality coffee, is just that, a myth.

Italy invented the espresso machine, though the French may wish to dispute this.

It was the French who first applied steam to drive water under pressure through coffee.

In 1818, Mr Laurens of Paris used a percolator system to create coffee. Further refinements by Louis Bernard Rabaut in 1822.

It was not until the early 1900s Italians came on the scene.

antique espresso machine

antique espresso machine

In 1901, Luigi Bezzera created a primitive espresso machine.

It was not until post-WWII we had the forerunner of the modern espresso machine.

It was Italian Fascists who coined the term barista, to differentiate from the American barman.

The world has moved on from bad Italian coffee, leave that to the likes of Costa, with their over roasted coffee.

And speaking of Costa. Stokes has appointed a training manager, from er, Costa!

Stokes is a very old coffee business, dating from 1902, now a fourth generation family business.  The current location of Stokes on High Bridge, in a Tudor building on a Norman Bridge over the River Witham dates from 1937.

Stokes have recently acquired The Lawn, though begs the question when will it open? It will serve coffee, roast coffee, run coffee classes. Though why has the Joseph Banks Conservatory been relocated? A key feature of The Lawn.

The service of late in Stokes on High Bridge has been abyssal. Today service was much improved.

The River Witham, which runs beneath Stokes, was today running very fast and very muddy.

From Waterstone’s, four copies of The Spy. Strictly speaking, swapped four copies. Waterstone’s stick stickers on the front of their books, which damage the books.

Outside Waterstone’s, between Stokes and The Stonebow, a  man was playing a saxophone. He was quite good, but why oh why ghastly backing music? It would have been far better, a sax on its own.

A little further up the High Street, Richard Silvester playing violin. I suggested he recorded and released on bandcamp. He asked what would did I like? Paganini.

Cappuccino in Stokes on High Bridge

February 2, 2017

Service in Stokes is deteriorating. It was not good a couple of weeks ago when  I had a coffee, today even worse.

Long wait until my my order was taken, then another long wait. Even the lady at the adjacent table commented how slow, that at least twenty minutes had passed by.

No explanation, no apology for the piss-poor service. And not even excuse that it was busy. Stokes is never busy these days. It used to be very busy, if not there before ten in the morning, would be waiting for a table.

And was it worth the long wait?

The latte was nowhere near what it would usually look like.

And my cappuccino, looked as though someone who did not know what they were doing, or did not care, or it was rushed.

No coffee shops I frequent, would not serve a cappuccino looking like this. I have had far better cappuccinos served, then taken back, with an apologetic barista saying not good enough.

Taste wise, it was good.

Pleasant chat with the lady at the next table. We were discussing local coffee shops.

I suggested try Coffee Aroma around the corner. She knew of but had never tried.

I also said try Makushi, the new coffee shop half way up Steep Hill.

The one place I said do not try, The Angel Coffee House, the place lacks any ambience, the chairs are threadbare and filthy, the coffee looks disgusting and tastes disgusting.

As she was interested in coffee I suggested check out No to Costa.

On leaving I saw Stokes now has on sale Northern Independent Coffee Guide.

Stokes did not make the first edition. Which I thought was a major omission. They are in the second edition, but if they let their standards slip, I cannot see them making the third edition.

On my way, I passed the guy with The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop in the grotty shopping Arcade opposite Stokes. Another location for good coffee, The Little Bicycle Coffee Shop that is not the grotty shopping arcade.

Cappuccino at Stokes on High Bridge

January 17, 2017

The last couple of occasions I have avoided Stokes and Coffee Aroma and decided to try a couple of the indie coffee shops in Lincoln.

A risky endeavour, as I can end up in somewhere like The Angel Coffee House, as I did last week, shabby, lack of ambience, filthy threadbare chairs and awful coffee.

Today I decided to play safe and visit Stokes on High Bridge.

As always, excellent cappuccino.

I picked up a copy of Bailgate Independent. A glossy magazine full of advertising, articles not worth reading. Tragic waste of trees. I am surprised Stokes stock it.

I contrast with the excellent Viva Brighton. Brighton has creative talent, maybe Lincoln does not.

On my way I passed through the grotty shopping centre opposite Stokes on High Bridge.

Not where would expect quality coffee. I stopped and had a brief chat with a guy with a little coffee stall. I said I would pop by one day and try his coffee. Several brewing methods, maybe too many for a little one man stall. Wrong location, a grotty shopping centre is not where would expect quality coffee. Central Market would be ideal location, except for one problem, thanks to the destruction Coop and the local council have wrought down on the area, footfall is low. Beans sourced from Makushi.

From Stokes, roast dinner at Park Street Eatery. It tasted better than it looked, but not great.

Cappuccino in Stokes on High Bridge

January 3, 2017
Stokes on High Bridge

Stokes on High Bridge

Excellent cappuccino in Stokes on High Bridge but easy to see why these days when I pass by, not busy.

Two lads who I have not seen before, standing by to guide to a table.

Then at least a five minutes wait if not longer, to take my order.

I popped back later, as I walked in, I asked for a cappuccino.

No, we have table service.

I contrast with Coffee Aroma, prompt service and the coffee better.

And I am not one of those who wishes rapid coffee. I am quite happy for a barista to take their time so long as I get excellent coffee.

Nor am I saying cappuccino not good in Stokes. Cappuccino excellent, but Coffee Aroma has the edge.

On the counter Guatemala coffee beans organic and FairTrade, though no logo for either.

But no roast date.

I checked other coffee beans. No roast date.

Best by is absolutely meaningless.

I asked the girl, and she told me they had been roasted the week before.

I asked how did she know?

Either she or or colleague had roasted in-store.

Fair enough, but they should write the roast date on the bags.

And she had no idea why roast date was important.

Stokes are expert coffee roasters and should know better.

Their staff are usually well informed on coffee.

The high standards which set Stokes apart are slipping.

Any coffee connoisseur seeing no roast date and not knowing Stokes, would simply assume, unless they made further inquiries, that they know nothing about coffee.

Stokes have two coffee shops in Lincoln, plus a warehouse where they roast coffee. They are featured in the second edition of Northern England Independent Coffee Guide, which surprisingly they do not  have on sale.

Stokes on High Bridge, a long established family business, in an Elizabethan building, on a Norman Bridge over the River Witham flowing through the centre of Lincoln, is one of the top coffee shops in the country. But Stokes need to up their game, as whereas  others are innovating  Stokes appears to be going backwards.

Cappuccino in Stokes on High Bridge

January 13, 2016
Stokes on High Bridge

Stokes on High Bridge

cookie jars

cookie jars

teas

teas

counter

counter

cappuccino

cappuccino

Excellent cappuccino in Stokes on High Bridge. But then I would expect no less, from one of the best coffee shops in the country.

The cookie was excellent too.

It begs the question why anyone would wish to drink the disgusting brew that is claimed to be coffee in Costa or tax-dodging Starbucks, sit in their corporate atmosphere or eat their factory cakes?

Lunch at Stokes was temping, roast lamb or pork chop.

Stokes on High Bridge, a long established family business, in an Elizabethan building, on a Norman Bridge over the River Witham flowing through the centre of Lincoln, is one of the top coffee shops in the country.

Cappuccino at Stokes on High Bridge

December 22, 2015
coffee beans and china cup

coffee beans and china cup and saucer

coffee shop

coffee shop

coffee beans

coffee beans

cappuccino

cappuccino

Lucky to even get in, as if not before ten in the morning, full until gone four in the afternoon.

It was around eleven in the morning, but fortunately  table was vacated as I walked in.  And it was a window seat.

No cookies.

Stokes on High Bridge is a long established coffee shop on High Bridge in Lincoln.


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