Boughton's Coffee House - the news magazine for the retail coffee and tea trades.   Published in Britain, important to the whole world of coffee.

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LATEST TRADE NEWS -

"I speak to many senior people about trade issues, and when I ask them 'where did you hear that?', they reply - 'Boughton's'."  (from a wholesaler MD)

 

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- Coffee shop owner, east Anglia

 

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News update 26 June

 

As you can imagine, we wouldn’t usually promote another coffee magazine (even if there were one worth promoting!) but we make an exception for the new Longberry – it comes from none other than barista champ James Hoffmann, of Square Mile roasters.  This is not a ‘magazine’ in the usual sense, but is probably best described as a small version of a coffee-table book, being a series of quite erudite essays on various aspects of coffee… titles such as ‘exoticism versus purity’ and ‘how the cappuccino became a thing’ (!) give the clue to this being a rather more highbrow kind of work, and it is very ‘American’ in its style… but we do cheerfully recommend the interviews with several coffee farmers, and the quirky piece on the taste characteristics of certain paper coffee filters. It is very much a limited edition in paper form, so is £7 a copy – but you can get a digital copy at £2.50 from longberrypress.com

 

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The European packaging group Pack2Go has created what seems an ambitious plan to ‘police’ low-quality food packaging.  We have reported before that certain packaging companies have complained about allegedly low-quality items, including takeaway coffee cups and other café items, being imported from the Far East – it has been suggested that some of these items would not pass European standards for food packaging quality.  Pack2Go now says that it will now start collecting evidence that ‘dangerous’ packs are being imported and sold on the European market, with the details of who is supplying and marketing these items.  There has, we understand, been a briefing from a European legal firm on the action which can then be taken.  Pack2Go appears to say that  that European distributors may be held responsible for some of the blame – some may be ‘hiding behind questionable paper work provided by Asian manufacturers’, and ‘need to do the right thing.”

 

 

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Edgcumbes Coffee of Arundel has been devising an English Breakfast silk teabag in support of the Dreams Come True charity, for their annual Dream Tea initiative – several trade suppliers have supported the project, including Masteroast, Jaguar Espresso Systems, Lincoln and York, North West Tea, United Coffee Distributors, and Jura.

 

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Coffee Republic is involved in the first ‘vaping café’ in Lincolnshire – this is to do with the practice of ‘smoking’ e-cigarettes.  The Ecigwizard shop in Brigg town centre, which sells electronic cigarettes and e-liquids,  the flavoured ingredients which go into them is now to use Coffee Republic coffee. The best known such café is the Vape Lab in London, a combined coffee house and e-cigarette smoking room, which uses Union Hand-Roasted coffee.

 

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Origin, the Cornish coffee roasters, is to launch the first speciality espresso bar inside Selfridges, the extremely ritzy London store.  Selfridges has stocked Origin’s season coffees for a few months, and now the roaster will both open the espresso bar and appear in the Oxford Street window, with a showcase of its retail coffee boxes. The espresso bar with be run by head barista Tom Pye.

 

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Henri’s, a French-themed deli in Edinburgh, has won Lincoln and York’s café contest, after having come second last year.  This rather original contest is run by the roaster to allow its distributors to highlight cafes using their coffee – cafes are nominated by distributors, and judged by the roaster. There were forty entries this year, and Henri’s was nominated by the Scottish supplier Myrtle Coffee.

 

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The extremely irreverent London business, Street Coffee, has got itself into hot water yet again.  The business is best known for its daily-changing A-board messages, some of which have been sufficiently risqué to attract the attention of the police.  It has now changed the main sign above one site to read ‘F***offee’ (but in full!)   There were around ten complaints, but the owner reports that the police only came to take ‘selfies’ of themselves in front of the sign.

 

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Kardomah, probably the most famous national coffee shop chain of fifty years ago, has created a coffee blend to mark the centenary of the birth of Dylan Thomas.  The poet was the most famous of what were called ‘the Kardomah Boys’, a collection of writers and artists who would all meet in the café in Swansea back in the 1930s. Bags of the organic, Fairtrade ‘mild and nutty’ coffee are now on sale there.

 

 

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Debenhams is to trial Costa Coffee shops in six of its stores, beginning with a pilot in Guildford. The store reports that it surveyed customers on the question of which major brand to go with. The launch café will be followed by sites in Slough, Derby, Exeter, Haverfordwest and Woking.

 

 

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Lavazza has claimed the latest and most bizarre ‘world first’ in coffee – it has devised a version of its capsule brewing system which will allow espresso to be taken into space, and it will indeed go with Samantha Cristoforetti, Italy’s first woman astronaut, on a visit to the international space station in November.  The technical problems involved the difficulty of handling liquids at high pressure and high temperature in a space environment – typically, plastic components had to be replaced with extremely strong steel.  This coming weekend, it will introduce an experiment with Alfa Romeo, in which it will create 'a bespoke car-engine coffee machine'...

 

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Brains, the Welsh brewer which took over the Coffee 1 café chain, is to open its third new coffee shop of 2014, with a site in Southsea, Hampshire. It opened the chain’s 40th site in Newbury last month, and the chief executive suggests that there is potential for ‘beyond a hundred’ sites.

 

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Perhaps twelve years after the idea was first mooted, the Barista Guild of Europe has been formed. The first project appears to be a ‘barista camp’ to be held from October 5th to 8th near Athens. The organisers say,perhaps hopefully, that tickets ‘start as low as 350 euros’.

 

 

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Starbucks has worked with Duracell to trial the introduction of wireless charging mats in its coffee shops across the US. The charging mats will work with any Powermat-compatible device or case, and have already been introduced at a number of locations in San Jose and Boston – the idea is have 100,000 Powermats installed at 7,500 branches by 2018. There is no word yet on a British arrival.

 

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News update mid-June

 

Cafeology, the Yorkshire coffee and tea brand which has been extremely active in all-Fairtrade supply, is to support a new cause – it has devised a new coffee in support of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, which is Britain’s largest conservation charity. For the RSPB project, Cafeology’s usual slogan of ‘Great Coffee, Great Cause’ has been adapted to  ‘Love Coffee, Love Nature’.  “This is a premium product, and it will be sold through both retail and foodservice,” says managing director Bryan Unkles. “The RSPB is not selling it through its own outlets at the moment, because they have another coffee for that, but as they have something like 1.2 million members, we do expect this to reach a wide market.”

 

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The Qualitasse company of Basingstoke has acknowledged the industrial heritage of its headquarters site, an old foundry, with the name of its new coffee – and, unusually, it has designed a packaging which gives the names, origins, and even the percentages of the coffees which make up the blend.

“We used to sell Italian coffees, and we did have a very Italian-esque brand, which was roasted in the UK,” sales director Martin Parry has said.  “But we felt it would be more important, rather than having a fancy name and tag line, to tell customers what’s in it, including the percentages… we’re not treating this as a mystical blend!”  It is likely that single-origin coffees will follow under the Anvil name. The roasting is by Masteroast, but there is a suggest that Qualitasse will open its own roastery at some point.

 

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It is now practical for small cafes to offer an authentic Italian gelato made on the premises, says Regency Coffee of Manchester, which has introduced an ice-cream machine and ingredient mixers from Toschi of Italy. The new system, says Regency, overcomes the problems of food manufacture regulations. “There are two types of ice-cream,” says sales director Philip Rundlett.  “If you’re a traditional ice-cream shop with scoop-out freezer cabinets, you’re going to be into big machines and pasteurisation, but a ‘semi-freddo’ soft Italian style is different and does not require pasteurisation.

The new breed of table-top machines are only 18in square, and are capable of producing 50 servings in 45 minutes. You can now make up a batch at the beginning of the day or during the day, and you’ll be happy to have the machine in view of the customers.  Toschi also have a frozen yogurt that goes in the same machine, and it can make a sorbet-style product as well. We’ve done very extensive testing in the market, and we’re confident that this product will stand up well as an authentic gelato.”

 

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There has been another claim of a ‘first’ in the fraught matter of takeaway cup recycling - Simply Cups, a partnership between Closed Loop Environmental Solutions and waste contractor Simply Waste Solutions, says that it will launch a ‘cost-efficient, collection and recycling service that will reduce operators’ costs and improve their environmental credentials’. The scheme will begin within the M25 and Thames Valley area in August, with a view to expanding nationally. The organisers of the scheme have said that “this will be game-changing for cup manufacturers and beverage outlets that are have been caught in the media spotlight due to the absence of any recycling solutions”.

However, the new organisation has not been very clear about the identity of founding members, or the target number of paper cups likely to be recovered for recycling. 

 

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The mayor of London has said that hundreds more cafes and catering venues will be invited to join his Food waste scheme, following reports that the early days of the project have put fifteen catering establishments on track to save more than £100,000 a year in food waste, and save 70 stones of food going to waste weekly. The average likely annual saving for the first 15 venues to report is thought to be £6,000; one pub has reported that it is likely is to save £10,000 and prevent almost one tonne of food waste a year.  The scheme is essentially an educational one, in showing food businesses how to use stock better – the pub looking to save £10,000 has begun offering different portion sizes and planning better ways of using leftover food, typically for the next ‘soup of the day’.

Research has suggested that 1.3 billion meals are wasted annually in the foodservice sector.

 

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A Starbucks customer in Dallas has set a record for the most expensive coffee drink ever served – it was, believe it or not, a 128-ounce frappuccino which included 60 shots of espresso. The custom drink, it is reported, was a conscious attempt to beat the previously held record of $47.30. Curiously, the customer did not have to pay for it – according to Starbucks' loyalty program, he had earned the right to one free drink, and simply made the most of it. The order was, however, pre-planned – the customer had decided that he needed a drink with 55 shots to take him over the previous record, and rounded it up; however, he insisted that the result had to ‘be drinkable’.  The previous record-holder, he said, had requested a drink which featured two bananas, strawberry, matcha powder, pumpkin spice, and other things which helped help raise the price, but did not help the taste.

Starbucks has never been slow to think up weird titles for its beverages, and the baristas themselves called this one a Sexagintuple Vanilla Bean Mocha Frappuccino.  Starbucks themselves said that they do not recommend other customers try to match it, on the grounds that sixty espressos is not a safe level for human consumption; the buyer acknowledged this, and drank only a little of it before keeping the rest ‘for later’.

 

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The most famous of the various re-usable takeaway cups to appear in recent times has been the KeepCup – and in a very unusual move, the makers have now created a glass version.  The KeepCup Brew and KeepCup Brew Limited Edition Cork are said to be ‘a design response’ to requests from the modern  speciality coffee consumer, and ‘for people who are serious about their coffee ritual, as well as their tea’.   The new lid, say the makers, has been one of their most technically difficult achievements…  placing a hard lid over a hard cup with an adequate seal was the problem.  The  limited edition cork product features a holder from ‘the ancient cork oak forests of Portugal’.

 

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A company in Seattle says it has achieved a new kind of plastic lid to fit on the top of traditional takeaway coffee cups. The Viora company says that the most disappointing aspect of buying takeaway coffee is the cheap lid; by contrast, the Viora has been designed with an angular design which makes spills less likely. There are two reasons for this – one is that the angles direct any spilled liquid back into the cup rather than allowing it to splash onto the person drinking from the cup. The second aspect is that the lid design is said to mimic the use of a ceramic cup. This is achieved, we are told, by the coffee draining into an upper well before reaching the mouth – the maker says that it is ‘blind tipping’ that leads to burnt lips or tongues.

 

 

News update mid-May

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A very noticeable trend this year has been for suppliers to encourage café operators to get well prepared for summer with a menu of easy-to-prepare cold blended drinks – and the latest supplier to do so is Peros, the specialist Fairtrade supplier.  Peros has now launched ‘Summer Crush’, a collection of ingredients, recipes, branding and support package to help operators create a range of smoothies, frappés, iced chai, chunky frappés, sparklers, iced teas and iced coffees. Average margins in this sector, says Peros, are ‘very high’, and it is easy to establish costings.

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The latest in-house barista championship by a significant catering company is the one from SSP, which operates café-bars in travel locations around the world.  This year’s champ is barista Kate Crozier, who works at Caffè Ritazza in Belfast International Airport, and who last year finished third in both the SSP barista championship and the Caffè Ritazza in-house contest. As an indication of the level of interest in speciality coffee among such outlets, SSP notes that baristas from 700 outlets took part in the contest, and that the semi-final stage involved 45 contestants.

There has been a rather strange aspect of an in-house barista contest run by TCG, a pub and bar group.  In the fairly conventional manner, entrants were required to serve a latte, and also to create a signature drink, but with the practical addition of recipe, costings and photography. The unusual aspect of the contest was that the prize was… a Nespresso machine.

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Burco, the water-boiler brand, has been awarded a Guinness World Record for achieving the most cups of tea brewed by a team of twelve staff in an hour.  They served 1608 cups, almost double the previous holder’s tally. The project was to promote Burco’s manual-fill boilers – twelve staff used nine boilers, and a condition of the event was that tea had to be allowed to brew for a stipulated period.

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The most popular ‘reward’ given by telecoms company 02 to its customers in the first quarter of this year is… a cup of Caffe Nero coffee. Around 80,000 of O2’s customers opted for this from a choice of incentives.  There was, according to Nero director Paul Ettinger, a benefit for the chain: “extraordinary as it may seem, there are still some people out there who have never been into a Caffe Nero! This promotion brings some of them in - we cannot know exactly how many are new customers, but we are pleased with this.”

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It is reported that following Asda’s rebranding of 70 in-house cafes as Seattle Best (a brand owned by Starbucks), the supermarket will continue the project across all its 252 sites.  Seattle’s Best already has a deal to appear in KFC and Kiddicare, and Starbucks has spoken of setting up a thousand of the brand outlets by the end of this year.

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The London Coffee Stop awards, voted for by 18,000 Londoners, have named White Mulberries, of  St Katherine’s Dock as the city’s top coffee house. The ‘best new coffee shop’ was The Wren, at St Nicholas Cole Abbey, a church destroyed in the great fire of 1666 (the site was restored by the architect Sir Christopher Wren). An interesting section of the awards was the ‘best coffee shop for out-of-office workers’ – the organiser of the awards regularly uses coffee shops as his ‘office’, and has even written a book on the subject: ‘Out Of Office, work where you like and achieve more’ .

Rather by contrast, the continuing debate over wi-fi in independent coffee shops has now taken a distinct turn against the use of computers – it is reported from America that more coffee shops are banning laptop use, in a campaign to try and re-establish the idea of a community meeting place. The sign pictured is from the August First café in Vermont; similar messages have now been spotted in London. This has apparently caused vast argument between laptop users who say they buy enough to warrant using tables the way they want, and café owners who report seeing customers walk out because they cannot find a vacant table because of laptop use.

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The man in charge of the BSA’s café accreditations scheme is, for the first time, a coffee-house  operator. He is Gordon Howell, of the Northern Academy of Coffee and the Attic and Harlequin coffee houses in York. The Beverage Standards Association has made the very practical observation that part of his job will be to stress to the trade that the point of the scheme is to allow cafes to display signs showing their status as beverage operators who been assessed and found to be brewing drinks in accordance with the trade’s idea of best practice. This, the BSA has observed, is a rather different thing from ‘just another awards scheme’.

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The daily press has had fun with the idea that EU bureaucracy has extended to coffee brewing – a new energy-saving rule says that domestic filter coffee machines will have to go into standby mode five minutes after the pot has finished brewing. Machines with non-insulated jugs will be allowed 40 minutes. The anti-Europe campaigners have criticised the EU for ‘condemning us to cold coffee’. However, it may be yet another example of the fact that we have no trade association which speaks out for the trade, or we could have made great publicity of the question of how long filter coffee can be left – this could be the end of stewed coffee in pubs!

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Nespresso France has finally bowed to pressure about its attitude to compatible coffee capsules - a French court has ruled in favour of two other brands who argued that it is unfair practice for Nespresso to warn consumers not to use other brands' pods, and to keep modifying machines to make compatible products work badly. The judgment applies only in France, where the company has more than three-quarters of the market, but may affect the industry worldwide, because there are similar cases going on in other countries. It has been pointed out that while Nestle has spent a fortune in fighting these cases, it has lost a great many of them.

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The latest operator of a drive-through coffee shop is likely to be…  a premiership football club.  West Bromwich Albion has applied to demolish part of a former pub next to its ground. The pub is a Grade 2 listed building, and once was a bust venue before matches, but is now disused and has been allowed to fall into disrepair. The plan is to retain as much of the original building as possible but to convert it into a coffee shop with drive-through facilities.

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The world’s second and third largest coffee companies, Mondelez International and DE Master Blenders 1753, are reportedly to combine under the name Jacobs Douwe Egberts.  This will create a company worth $7 billion, which will become a closer competitor to Nestle.  A curiosity of the plan is that both companies have come in for some criticism over recent, and fairly inexplicable, changes of name – Mondelez used to be the snack and beverage arm of Kraft, and adopted its new name after a contest among staff… the winner is supposedly a combination of ‘monde’, the French word for the world, and a made-up abbreviation of ‘delicious’.  DE Master Blenders is the company known for 200 years as Douwe Egberts; the original name will return two years after it was dropped.

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Coffee House news update 7th April.

 

The new UK barista champion is Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood of Bath, who took the title at the London Coffee Festival yesterday; he is of course also a former holder of the title.

 

He took the title ahead of Dale Harris, Estelle Bright, reigning champ John Gordon, Joe Meagher, and a very notable performance by Don Altizo – a barista from a contract catering company taking sixth place in the national championships (half a point away from fifth), which rather bears out what his employer Baxter Storey has been saying about the rising standard of coffee in some sectors of the contract world.

 

Maxwell’s café, Colonna and Small, took two titles this weekend - Sebastian Stephenson became the Brewer’s Cup champ. Maxwell himself also took the prize for both the best espresso and best cappuccino of the finals, while the best signature drink was by John Gordon.

 

The Union Hand Roasted prize of a trip to origin, presented to the best-performing barista making a first appearance in competition, was won by Imogen Ludman from Six Eight Kafe in Birmingham.

 

The new Coffee In Good Spirits champion is David Jameson of Union Hand Roasted, and the Ibrik title holder is now Vadym Granovskiy of Coffee In Action.  The latte art contest was won by Dhan Bahadur Tamang of Caracoli.

 

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May we remind everyone that the BBC2 documentary on coffee shops is tonight at 9pm.   We’ve been looking forward to this for months, and the producer, Jacqui, now tells us: ‘we wanted to get a good idea of the overall coffee scene…  and you gave it to us in spades!’ The narrator is Sandi Toksvig.

 

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It is also today  (10.30am)  that crime writer Ian Rankin appears at Kiki’s Café, in Grindlay Street, Edinburgh, in support of Parkinson’s Awareness Week.  Vegware, the compostable packaging company, has now signed up 250 cafes across the UK to support the campaign.

 

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We are intrigued to see that the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe has now launched a new membership programme for coffee-enthusiast consumers.   The SCAE has remarked: “we recognise the importance of engaging and embracing the most important person within the whole coffee supply chain – the consumer.”  It would probably be nit-picking to mention that we presented this idea to them in 2004… but then again, there is such a thing as ‘an idea whose time has come’ !

 

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Coffee House news update, April 1st.

 

In an unexpected development, the trade distributor Beyond the Bean is to cease selling Byron Bay Cookies, the Australian biscuit product which it championed in recent years, and with which it created an entirely new snack sector for the coffee house market. 

 

The Australian cookie company was recently bought by a new owner, Rinoldi, who announced last week: “after an in-depth review of UK & EU operations, Rinoldi have made the strategic decision to modify the distribution process by moving to direct supply,” and invited café operators to open accounts with the British arm of the company. The company also said that it would be placing a greater emphasis on the growing gluten-free market sector.

 

Byron Bay has said that its new products “are more in line with the original Australian product, with key recipe changes including the use of raw sugars, removal of all starches, as well as delivering a more ‘cakey’ texture and handmade look. Cookies for the UK & EU markets will continue being hand baked in the UK, using only the finest all-natural and locally sourced ingredients.”

 

In response to enquiries from the café trade, Beyond the Bean responded: “Beyond The Bean announce the end of their six-year relationship with the Byron Bay Cookie Company.  In 2013 the Byron Bay Cookie Company went into administration, and Beyond The Bean have been working to come to an agreement with the new owners since July 2013. Unfortunately this has not been possible and the relationship will now end. Beyond the Bean are working with the new owners to transition the change of distribution smoothly and will continue to service the needs of our customers for the immediate future.”

 

Sales director Gary McGann told us: “We had already decided to part company, and we had already agreed with Byron Bay that we would not be working together any more. It had been a unique product, but six years ago, bakery was a niche sector in the coffee market, and it is not any more. At that time, the chains had a smaller percentage of the high-street market, and as they grew, they were very quick to copy the cookie sector with their own-label products, and at the same time more artisan-style bakery suppliers have also come into the market.”

 

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The biggest chocolate festival in the UK will run on April 12/13th – the Ramsbottom festival in Lancashire had been the subject of a regional news report after a local council reportedly said it was unable to fund the event, but the local Business Group, being perfectly aware that the festival brings 30,000 people into the town over one weekend, became involved instead. The originator of the event, Paul Morris of the Chocolate Cafe, says that he has already taken calls from as far away as America, with visitors wanting to check local accommodation details.

 

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In what is clearly now more than coincidence, plans have been submitted in several towns for the proposed alteration of old red phone boxes to become cafes and retail outlets.

 

In Plymouth, the idea is for two phone boxes on the Barbican to become mini-shops. In Blackpool, there is an application to convert one of two boxes outside the main post office. In Leicester, an application has been made to turn a box at the rail station into a café.

 

The common player in all these plans is the Brighton architect firm of Miles Broe, which is said to be working for a new charity called Thinking Outside the Box. This developer says that BT has agreed to release phone boxes in 300 towns and cities – apparently BT is glad to do so, to save the cost of upkeep and avoid vandalism. The boxes are ‘listed buildings’, but it is reported that BT has a price of £1,950 for individuals who want to buy a phone box, but community projects can pay as little as a pound; in the new scheme, it is suggested that operators of the phone-box businesses will donate a percentage of takings to a local charity, to be chosen by the council.

 

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With the London Coffee Festival due to open on Thursday, a fascinating item of late news is that Mulmar propose to demonstrate the Steampunk, probably the first time this machine has been on show to the British trade. The Steampunk won the ‘best new product’ title at the big American coffee show a couple of years ago, and is the brewer which was put up in a taste-test challenge against one of America’s best-known baristas… and won (by only 1.01 points, it’s true, but it won).  The Steampunk is difficult to describe, but was conceived by a coffee-shop owner who appreciated the quality of siphon brewing, but believed that most of his customers would not wait for the time a siphon takes; he created a machine which is said to produce the same quality, but quicker, and with brewing parameters that can be repeated.

 

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The UK barista championship finals will also be held at the London Coffee Festival this coming weekend. To tie in with this, the Rancilio espresso machine company has today announced the launch of its new Classe 14, a fourteen-group espresso machine (see picture attached) intended to speed up service in high-throughput areas.  Marco Olmi of the Coffee Machine Company, Rancilio’s UK distributor, has remarked that the machine could also transform barista contests. He told us: “I think this should be the official competition machine for the UKBC,” and suggested that with its more efficient use of time and space, allowing for many baristas to share the machine at the same time, a contest which usually takes a full day could now be completed in fifteen minutes.

 

 

It is also expected that the London Coffee Festival will feature the first appearance of the new blend scanner, a device which allows a coffee roaster to compete for business by analysing a potential client’s existing house coffee and reproducing it on improved terms. To analyse a sample of an existing roasted coffee, the scanner uses a new carbon-dating formula to analyse the bean and establish the temperature at which it was roasted, and then uses advanced spectroscopy techniques to determine from the colour of the roasted bean how long it was roasted for, and whether it went past first or second crack, and if so, by how much.  Thirdly, the scanner uses a form of DNA analysis to establish the general origin of the bean, which is then linked to satellite GPS technology to identify the individual farm. The scanner then automatically cross-refers this identification to establish whether that farm is accredited by Fairtrade, Rainforest, or Utz. With this information, a roaster can now accurately reproduce any existing blend. 

 

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21 March 2014

It is a week of ‘confirmations’ – Starbucks has today confirmed to us that a report in the Times is true, and that the chain does indeed intend to turn half its British stores into franchises, and that new openings will be handled by franchise partners. Meanwhile, Starbucks is now aiming for a target of two hundred drive-through sites.

At Harris and Hoole, Nick Tolley has more or less confirmed a reported expansion of the business, which rather vaguely suggested several hundred new staff.  He told us: “Yup, we reckon we might be hiring around 500 new people this year - though the number is dependent on the sites we find, which itself is opportunity-led, so the reports have been a little speculative... but I hope we're able to open the same number of shops this year as we did last year, about 30.”

Meanwhile, we noted some months back that a report in the American press, suggesting that Caffé Nero was about to open there, had come as a surprise on both sides of the Atlantic… it appears that a rather enthusiastic property agent spoke out earlier than he was supposed to.  The chain has now confirmed that it will open in Boston in late April. Founder Gerry Ford, who used to live in Boston, observes that the relative European-ness of the place lends itself to his desire to ‘slowly enter’ the American market.

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United Coffee is changing its name.  It will now become UCC Coffee, taking on the corporate name of the Japanese owner, who bought the business two years ago.

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We have two promotions in hot chocolate this week.  In a rather imaginative move, Paul Eagles of Kokoa Collection, the company which supplies single-origin chocolate disks which melt in steamed milk or coffee, has created his own Hot Chocolate Festival, to run from 24th March – 6th April.  The first activity involves only cafes and hotels using Kokoa Collection products – there is a list of venues from Edinburgh to the Isle of Wight which will be involved, many of them devising their own hot chocolate drinks for promotional use, with the overall aim being to advise the public of the difference between ‘real’ chocolate drinks and the mass-market instant alternative. The project also has a charitable aim, raising funds for a cause in Haiti, from where Paul sources some of his most recent single-origin chocolate.

Elsewhere, Marimba has a new Mug Shot contest – this brand supplies its ‘chocolate melt’ in flake format, and consumers have to send in a picture of themselves drinking the product. Those who mention the venue that served them the drink have the chance of winning  chocolate hampers worth over £50. There will be prizes for the outlets who serve the winning customers.

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An odd situation has been highlighted by Andrew Moyes, managing director of BB’s Coffee and Muffins, who has shown us a demand from the TV licensing people, who appear to be doing a fundraising project targeted at coffee houses.  Essentially, the TV people say that televisions in café premises need to be licensed… but deep in their demand comes the interesting additional information that even if you do not have a television on the premises, but your customers bring in their own laptop or mobile device and use it through your wi-fi to watch live television (not recorded), and if you are generous enough to allow them to plug into your mains supply… then you are liable for a TV licence. If they use their own batteries, you are not. “People are certainly using tablets to watch live football matches in cafes, so this could become an issue,” remarks Andrew. “Have any other coffee shops had this problem?”

We’d like to know.

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This also counts as a ‘confirmation’, but a rather odd one.  We recently reported that the author Tony Wild, who claims to have discovered the original kopi luwak coffee and now leads campaigns against the unethical production of it, has launched another petition suggesting that the coffee could conceivably qualify for Rainforest Alliance certification.

This bizarre state of affairs is suggested to arise from a change in the Code of the Sustainable Agriculture Network, which the Alliance follows. That Code has hitherto forbidden certification to farmers who keep caged animals; now, Tony Wild argues, in an attempt to simplify their rules, SAN have inadvertently weakened their own provisions on this. It has been said that an officer of the World Society for the Protection of Animals spotted the suggested anomaly in the likely change to the Code. 

However, it has now been reported elsewhere that there are further concerns over the simplification of the Sustainable Agriculture Network’s rules. A report from America suggests that while SAN says it wants to simplify the certification procedure for smallholder farms, the new standards will ‘eliminate current requirements related to the kind of biodiversity and shade coverage that translate to sustainably-produced and quality shade-grown coffee’. It is suggested that the ‘canopy density’ and ‘tree cover’ requirements (which are not strictly the same thing) have been reduced so drastically that they do not fit the image of what the average consumer would expect of a Rainforest Alliance coffee.

(With regard to kopi luwak, we now have data on a challenging ‘taste test’ project run in America, to establish whether this coffee matches what is expected of other Indonesian coffees. You’ll find our report on the Caffe Culture website – and you may be surprised.

It’s here http://www.caffeculture.com/2014/03/06/kopi-luwak-now-taste-analysis/ )

*

Vegware, the supplier of compostable cups and packaging, is supporting Parkinson’s Awareness Week with free napkins.  The project runs from 7-13 April, and Vegware is offering a campaign pack of 800 free specially-branded napkins, and an awareness week poster to display, to the first 250 cafes who sign up to support the cause. Cafes are also being recruited by Cappuccino Ads, an Edinburgh advertising agency which distributes free branded coffee cups to cafes across Scotland. The head of marketing for the Parkinson’s campaign has made the quite reasonable observation that napkins are rarely used to convey an important message. Cafes can sign up for free napkins via Vegware’s website at  www.vegware.com/parkinsonsuk

 

 

3rd February 2014

 

The organisers of the rescued UK barista championships have virtually reached their target of entries for this year’s event – it had been hoped that the hastily-organised contest, with its central ‘super-heat’ in Birmingham next week, would attract fifty entries… with a week to go, the tally is 49.

 

Rather interestingly, the line-up includes a couple of former champs, and several who have distinguished themselves in previous competitions, including the Coffee in Good Spirits contest (our favourite!)    

 

The line-up, in no particular order, is:  Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood, Dhan Tamang, Dale Harris, John Gordon, Gayan Munaweera, Estelle Bright, Don Altizo, Jana Slamova, Alexander Passmore, Oliver Tolic, Emiliya Yordanova, Diana Johnston, Ewan Osprey-Allan, Joe Meagher, Ryan Brodie, Dan Fellows, Rachael Jowitt, Tom Hamlyn, Jason Gonzalez, Ivan Hewitt, Gareth Jones, Stuart Lee Archer, James Green, Heidi Beeton, Gareth Kemble, Adrian Bytniewski, Hasan  Aynaci,  Daisy Rea, Eve Purdy, Imogen Ludman, David Felgate, Matteo Pavoni, Martin Pearson, Joe Grainger, Mark Williams, Laura Holmes, Fin  Kay - Lavelle, Caspar Steel, Sungsoo Yune, Steve Pearson, James West, Craig Martin, Liam Ward, Chris Walton, Bartosz Ciepaj, Omar  Al-Sabahi, Darryl Docherty, Will  Sumner and Connor Bramley.

 

*

 

Celebrity chef Gino d’Acampo is gently stirring up the matter of coffee pricing, having decided that all coffee served in his My Pasta Bar outlets will be priced at a flat one pound per drink. He has said, somewhat challengingly, that:  “in Italy, we don’t believe that great coffee should be expensive,” and has referred to the widespread tradition there that one espresso should cost one euro (or in the old days, a thousand lira). He has added that: “at My Pasta Bar, all food and drink is fantastic and realistically priced - our coffee is no different.”

 

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The drive-through trend continues to be entertaining…  Starbucks is now planning a 2,000 sq ft drive-through at the retail park near Milton Keynes Central station.  In Edinburgh, McDonald’s has blocked a plan for a new Costa drive-through – the insurance company Aviva was reportedly to get £85,000 a year by renting out part of Corstorphine Retail Park, but McDonald’s said they had a lease which required their consent for such a competitor to come in. The case went to court, which ruled in favour of McDonalds. In Gloucester, it has been predicted that plans for a drive-through at Gloucester Quays will be rejected – the application, a stone’s throw from a site where a rival drive through has been approved, has reportedly been criticised by the planning department as being of ‘poor design’ at a ‘prominent plot’.

 

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More imaginatively, a planning application in Brighton proposes that four disused red phone boxes will become mini-cafes. The application is by Thinking Outside The Box, which has designed ‘self-contained food and beverage kiosks’ and has promised to donate a share of profits to local homeless causes. The applicants have said: “the concept of a public phone box is now dated, with the majority of people now owning a mobile phone. The new use of the phone box will maintain the iconic appearance but reinvent its use to be current in the 21st century.”   (Readers in Edinburgh will recall the successful adaptation of old police boxes into coffee kiosks).

 

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Dunne and Frankowski, the baristas behind several interesting businesses, not least the new Sharps combination of coffee shop and barber, have now come up with a plan for their own coffee tours of London.  “More and more people have been asking us about doing these, so we have decided with the New Year it’s time to give them a crack.”  There will be a ‘city to Shoreditch’ tour on April 4th and a West End tour the following day. Each lasts between two and three hours. Details: info@dunnefrankowski.com

 

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This week’s furore about coffee in the House of Lords, which has been gleefully reported as far away as New Zealand, turns out not to be a new issue at all.  The daily press has copied each other (as so often happens) with the story of a vast number of complaints about the Barry Room restaurant in the House of Lords.  According to the Independent, the taxpayer contributes £1.3 million a year to this facility, in spite of which the poor peers have to put up with waiting for a table, ‘shrinking’ portions of vegetables, a lack of real cheese on baked potatoes (or, in another complaint, the use of margarine instead of butter on them) and a shortage of peanut butter.  The big complaint, it is reported this week, is the recently-installed coffee machine, which is seen as an ‘insult’ to their lordships.  However, this is not a new complaint – in September last year, complaints about the coffee equipment reportedly included one 192-word email rant about it. We have, we regret, been unable to find further details of the machine in question; however, last September, a member of the Lords catering team reportedly said: “there’s just no pleasing them…”

 

 

24th January 2014

The Health and Safety Executive court case against Elektra, in respect of the Sainsbury’s explosion of 2010, was thrown out of court this week.  First reports in the local press suggest the case was dismissed for ‘lack of evidence’, but the HSE has advised us that this is not the case – the prosecution was dismissed over a matter of territorial jurisdiction.  “The judge did not accept that HSE could prosecute an Italian-based supplier with no presence in the UK and where the supply had taken place outside of the UK,” the HSE has told Coffee House. “Following a ruling by District Judge Mr Gillibrand at Basingstoke Magistrates’ Court to dismiss HSE’s prosecution of Elektra SRL, the

Health and Safety Executive is reviewing its position.” This has come as a slight surprise because the matter was considered in an earlier local hearing, where the magistrate decided to refer the case onward; the expectation had been that it would then pass to the Crown Court.

*

On the same general subject, a story appeared yesterday in the magazine of the Institute of Safety and Health in which a very big law firm reported that it has experience a client being served with a Health and Safety Improvement Notice after failing to provide its local council with a written scheme of examination and examination reports for its coffee machine. Attention to this subject through the trade was considerably heightened following the Sainsburys incident.   Failure to provide the documentation was, according to the local authority, held to be a breach of the Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000. (We regret that we don’t yet know which authority was involved).

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The latest serious move towards coffee by a pub chain has come from the St Austell brewery, which has something over 150 pubs of its own and also supplies free houses.  The brewery has launched the Brewer and Bean brand, which unusually is reported to be designed for both drink-in and takeaway business from the chain’s pubs.  The Brewer and Bean range of coffees is being supplied by the Miko organisation through its Cornish Coffee business. In an interesting statement of intent, the brewery’s food and development manager said: “we want St Austell pubs to become as famous for serving tremendous coffee as they are for great beer.”  (A few months ago, the Fullers brewery of London launched its own coffee brand, Brewer Street)

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The coffee trade has reacted to comments by the employment minister who said that young people should be prepared to take jobs in coffee shops if they want to get on in life. It seems to be generally agreed that she was right to suggest that young people have to be prepared to take any job at all to get experience in working life, but it was unfortunate that minister Esther McVey chose the coffee-shop trade to illustrate the lowest job on the social scale.

At Caffe Nero, director Paul Ettinger remarked that working in a coffee shop provides valuable experience in the varied skills required in retail business, and pointed to the example of one applicant who rose within six months to be assistant manager of a million-pound site – “how cool is that?” remarked Ettinger. “It could not happen in any country in the world apart from the USA.”

Louie Salvoni, whose homeless shelter works to give people work experience with Pret a Manger, observed that it is chances in coffee shops which have ‘literally turned people's lives around’ and given them independence, dignity and a chance to rebuild their lives. Costa themselves told us that their ‘master of coffee’ began as a barista.

Martyn Herriott of the Beverage Standards Association added: “catering work in the main is still seen as the poor persons’ way in life; however attitudes are changing and the industry is raising its professionalism and standards. The minister could have been more careful with her choice of words… we will be sending her an invite to speak at a future Association event.”

Elsewhere in the business press, the minister was also accused of picking the wrong example, as in recent months there have been several stories of hundreds and even thousands of applications at Costa sites which have advertised just a handful of vacancies.

*

It appears that a fascinating new product is being launched by the trade wholesaler Cream Supplies. There have been many variations on the idea of a milk-frothing jug featuring built-in thermometers, to show when the milk has reached optimum temperature – now Cream Supplies has launched a stick on item, the TempTag, which attaches to the outside of a jug and gives a visual indication of milk reaching the right temperature. There are several versions, reacting at different temperatures and in different colours to assist in identifying jugs being used for different milks. The company says an external measurement is more hygienic than a thermometer dipped into the milk, and avoids any obstruction in milk frothing.  (Jaguar has since pointed out that they also have the item in stock).

*

Illy has now opened its coffee shop in Regent Street, London – in a very curious partnership, it is working with Samsung in what the mutual business-speak describes as ‘a multi-year partnership aimed at enhancing the consumer experience in their respective retail flagship stores’.  Put more simply, this means that the two brands have created an international partnership in retail sites which feature both of their products side-by-side.

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Also in the ‘flagship site’ sector, Nespresso has opened a ‘boutique tasting bar’ in Edinburgh. The brand has now opened a collection of ritzy sites in Vienna, Beijing, London, Moscow, San Francisco and Seoul, among others.  The theme is very upmarket indeed – in some European cities, the Saturday visit to Nespresso became a fashionable part of the social scene.

*

Drive-throughs continue to be a growing trend - Costa is set to open Birmingham’s first coffee drive-through at Edgbaston, Birmingham, and has signed leases in six out-of-town retail parks, some of which may feature drive-throughs. Meanwhile, Welcome Break has created a Starbucks drive-through at Warwick South services on the M40 – interestingly, chief executive Rod McKie has spoken of observing ‘a real demand for more drive-throughs’.

*

Further to our recent reports concerning the UK barista championship and its new ‘super-heat’ event in Birmingham, it is now known that the events programme running beside the contest will indeed feature a Tamper Tantrum, the coffee-themed set of presentations and debates devised by roaster Steve Leighton of Has Bean and barista champion Colin Harmon of Dublin. In Birmingham, the speakers will be James Hoffman, Rob and Vic of Dunne Frankowski, Peter Dore Smith from  Kaffeine, Cory Bush from green coffee importer Falcon, and Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood of the Bath cafe Colonna & Smalls. There will be a screening of ‘Barista or Bust’, the documentary based on John Gordon’s progress through the 2010 contest and into the world finals, followed by a question and answer session. There will also be a series of workshops organised by Ben Townsend and Tim Sturk, the SCAE UK Education co-ordinators, on milk chemistry, water testing and filtration, and roasting, blending and brewing methods.

*

The SCAE is also involved in plans for Dublin ’s first ever Coffee & Tea Festival, to be held in September.  The show will include features on roasting, cupping, and barista contests. The event is partly in preparation for the proposed hosting of the 2016 world barista championships in the city.

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Dec 2013

 

In the final Coffee House news update of the year, we first of all refer you to our Newsfeed page, for a long story on the matter of the UK Barista Championships.   The SCAE has said that it is ‘thrilled’ to announce that the conventional system of regional heats has been replaced by one week-long ‘super heat’ to be held in Birmingham.  This news at first failed to ‘thrill’ the trade in general, but as investigation reveals the decision to be a crisis-management strategy by the new temporary UK Co-ordinator, Steve Leighton of Has Bean, there is now a growing body of opinion which applauds him for taking decisive action. 

 

You can read the story at:  http://boughtonscoffeehouse.wordpress.com

 

*

 

Muffin Break has this week opened its 50th store in the UK – the newest site is in Leamington Spa’s Royal Priors shopping centre, and follows other recent openings in Wandsworth, Leeds and Livingston.

 

*

 

Another opening this week has been the return of the American coffee shop chain Dunkin’ Donuts, which opened in Harrow, North London, a clear ten years after closing its British interests. The chain has spoken of opening 150 British sites in five years, of which at least 15 will be drive-thru doughnut stores. The first site has been opened by franchisees, and Dunkin’ Donuts has made the very practical comment that it is typical of the ‘cheaper sites’ which it will look for this time round. The first franchisees are part of a partnership formed by three experienced Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees from the Baltimore and Philadelphia area, and two local UK operators – they propose to take on 25 franchised outlets in the next five years.

 

(The latest issue of Coffee House features a story on the launch of the ‘gourmet doughnut’ concept in the UK, as spearheaded by the delightfully-named Glazed and Confused business. Email the editor if you need a copy).

 

*

 

Believe it or not, the rock band Blur has created a range of merchandise including…  a bone china tea-set.  Priced at £69, the tea set is indeed made in the Potteries, and is decorated with Blur's Britannia and Blur logo.

 

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Somebody may have achieved the answer to high street business rates – they have created a coffee house which may turn out to be larger on the inside than the outside.  A new Dr Who themed coffee shop has been opened in Lowestoft, and it has a ‘Tardis-style entrance’! By coincidence, the property was first opened as a milk bar at around the same time as the first Dr Who episode was broadcast, in 1963.

 

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The newest speciality tea-room in Manchester, Tea42, has been opened by actress Michelle Collins, who holds the unusual distinction of having played fairly major roles in both of TV’s two biggest soaps, Eastenders and Coronation Street. The owners give the actress credit for inspiring their idea of a large gluten-free menu.

 

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A remarkable story has appeared in Switzerland, suggesting that the newest Nespresso machine features the brand’s biggest move yet against competitors’ trade in ‘compatible’ capsules. It is suggested that Nespresso has changed the way capsules are pierced inside the machine, reportedly with needles of a different size, which will either not pierce a compatible capsule, or in the extreme cases, will crush one. Some compatible-makers overseas have already begun to issue statements saying that their capsules will still work.  Nespresso appears to have made no public statement.

 

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We have in the past referred regularly to the community support work done by Karen Mercer of the My Coffee Stop business on Enfield Chase railway station.  Karen recently made the radical move of opening a second branch far away in Shepton Mallett, Somerset – and within months of moving there, she has now been elected as a town councillor.

**

There is an interesting new aspect to planning authority matters in St Helens, Lancashire, where McDonald’s has been granted permission to use the front of its Church Street restaurant as a pavement cafe – with the condition that it keeps the area clear of rubbish.  St Helens Council granted permission initially for 12 months, under the condition that the site is subject to a regular cleaning and maintenance schedule which requires a ‘trash walk’ patrol along the street five times a day while the pavement cafe is in use, and a weekly ‘deep clean’.

Meanwhile, litter will be a debate topic at the Foodservice Packaging Association meeting in Nottingham on 16th January.  The chief executive of Keep Britain Tidy will take part, as will the co-ordinator of European Clean-Up Day.


*

A pub chain has created its own coffee brand.  The Welsh brewer SA Brain, which made a significant move into the coffee sector a couple of years ago when it bought the Coffee # 1 café chain, has created the Great Little Coffee Company.  This now has an effect on the coffee served in its pubs – at the time of the acquisition of the chain, we asked if this would affect the use of Costa in its sites, and no direct response was made. However, at the recent Pub Retail Summit, the brewery’s retail director Philip Lay reportedly announced that Costa coffee would be replaced by its new brand in 95 pubs.

*

A Sunderland rock band has decided to created its own coffee bar. Members of the band Lilliput have created Holmeside Coffee, having complained that they find great coffee houses in other cities they travel to, but none locally. The new venture offers free wi-fi, reading material, and the chance for customers to choose their own background music.  Coffee is from the nearby Ouseburn roastery.

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There is a curious story concerning the Caffe Nero chain’s activities in the USA.  According to the American press, the chain is to open its first US store in Boston – a local real estate agency has said that the café will open early in the new year in the new Millennium Place complex, a 625-foot-high, mixed-use residential and retail development currently under construction. Caffe Nero tells us it has nothing to say on the subject…

*

Yet another combined coffee shop and bike repair shop has opened. Adele Procter and Martin Harman have opened Your Bike Shed in York. The couple told their local paper that the idea came from Bangkok, curiously omitting to refer to the existing British cycle-themed cafes, but also mentioned that York apparently has the second largest cycling community in the country.

*

Caffe Nero in Aylesbury has been the site for a most unusual handout situation – a man sitting in front of the café with a hand-painted cardboard sign was not begging for money, but giving it away. The man filmed himself sitting with a placard that said he has job, a home, a car, and good health, and asking whether anyone would like a couple of pounds for a coffee. The man behind this ‘random act of kindness’ said that dozens of pedestrians either ignored him, or read the sign and dismissed the offer. Delightfully however, the first person to accept his £2 went straight into Caffe Nero, bought a coffee… and gave it back to him! Some others read the sign and politely thanked him but declined; others took up the offer and he gave away £36 in half an hour. He had already promised to match the giveaway amount with a donation to charity.  When we told Caffe Nero’s head office about this, a director replied: ‘this made our day. I am sure he has a loyalty card!”

*

The press in Malvern has reported mixed feelings in the town over Costa being granted permission to open. One trader reported the remarkable figure of 35 coffee shops within a small radius of the proposed site. 

*

It has been an interesting month for trademark cases in court – following our report that the tiny Apfelkind (Apple Child) café in Germany has successfully fought off an action by the giant Apple electronics organisation over the alleged similarity of their logos, it is now reported that an American court has ruled in the case brought by Starbucks against the roaster which makes the Charbucks blend.  Twelve years after the case first began, a three-judge panel ruled that Starbucks had failed to prove that consumers would be confused between the two names.  A major feature of Starbucks’ case had been a survey it had conducted to try and show that consumers would indeed confuse the two names – the appeal court said that the survey was ‘fundamentally flawed’.

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Readers may recall our recent story from Switzerland, concerning the town which turned a carriage in its town’s tourist railway into a temporary coffee shop. Starbucks has now done something similar – in partnership with Swiss Federal Railways, it has opened a two-level coffee shop on a passenger train running from the Geneva Airport to St. Gallen. Perhaps inaccurately, Starbucks has described it as a ‘unique’ collaboration of experts.

*

Coffee Republic is back on the franchise trail – it has opened four new franchised sites in London, at Marble Arch, Bromley, Wood Green and Putney, is to open six more in London and the home counties in the next few months, and another in the Odeon, Glasgow. 

*

There is an intriguing aspect to one of the new committee appointments at the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe – one of the new education co-ordinators is Tim Sturk, the training manager for the large Baxter Storey contract catering organisation. For a contract caterer to be represented in such a position is, it is thought, indicative of the way that the concept of ‘speciality coffee’ has developed through the general catering industry.

*

After a gap of a few years, the phenomenon of exploding laundry in cafes has occurred again – in this case, a café in Brighton has experienced the spontaneous combustion of tea towels. It has happened before, in the same town – indeed, it happened twice in the same day there last year. The situation is not as bizarre as it sounds, and a regional fire commander has explained that the likely reason is a combination of cooking fats or chemicals on tea towels, which have been inadequately cleaned and insufficiently aired. The accumulated residue is apparently combustible.

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Up to this year, we always shunted our front page news off to the archive after about a month.  Then we realised we had six years of news in a giant archive file!   We're now trimming that archive down radically.

We'll have a new archive ready soon.   News from August 2009 is here. The giant archive from 2003 is here

A chiel's amang ye takin' notes... and faith, he'll print it!  - Robert Burns.

 

 

JOBS

Due to recent successes and growth, Kimbo UK are strengthening their sales team and wish to appoint a coffee consultant in the South. Candidates should be located to spend time in central London up to three days a week and wider travel in South East/ South West/ East Midlands  as required. Company vehicle supplied.

Must have strong coffee experience and have both passion and commercial focus. Must be able to deliver coffee training to a competent level. Driver’s licence essential. Salary commensurate with experience. 

Email CV to Angus.m@kimbo.co.uk

with JOIN in subject line and CV.

 Come and be part of a winning team, with incredible products and service solutions that keep expanding year on year.

 

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The most distinctive, individual, and independent suppliers' list to the cafe trade you'll ever find

The List is being updated - it's all accessible, but we may have the odd missing link, for which we apologise while the work is going on.

 

Well, the editor's getting on a bit these days...

 

THE FULL STORY

We do not always have room in the printed magazine to produce important stories at the length we would like. Here, you can read the full versions.

Now on the site

THE COFFEE COUNCIL

- the pressure vessel issue.

The second of a series of statements on matters of trade importance is now on the site. Click the logo.

 

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We are the only writers

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We have promoted the cause of coffee and tea in corporate-management magazines, the two leading pub-trade magazines, the market-leading catering magazine, and speciality food magazines, facilities-management magazines, workplace-design magazines...  nobody else works for the beverage trade like we do!

 

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Boughton's Coffee House is the news magazine for the coffee-bar trade, cafe trade, tea-room trade, beverage trade,

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