Burnley, Macmillan Nurses and “Two Shades of Grey”………………..

Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

So it was off to deepest, darkest Lancashire this morning heading for the illustrious (?) town of Burnley (or West Islamabad as it is known to the locals) for a performance by my friend and colleague who forms one half of the group “Two Shades of Grey.” (www.2shadesofgrey.net).

The gig was being held at the “notorious” venue of Costa Coffee within the confines of the giant Tesco store in the town centre and was in aid of the Macmillan Cancer Support Charity (something I know is very dear to my friend).

The concert was in full flow when I arrived to an audience made up of both old and young, many of whom appeared to be regulars, as they all seemed to know each other.

During the three sessions they did a variety of numbers by such artists as Bobby Vee, Ray Charles, Joan Baez, The Drifters and a host…

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Tea still top tipple in UK

Document1Despite the growth of coffee shops in the UK (and something Costa Coffee is now exporting to France) Brits still drink 11 million gallons of tea a day. The 400-year old habit is well established with many people acknowledging they are addicted to it.

Most people use the same process and the same cup or mug; milk and two sugars for many people. But 7% of us are so fussy about the strength and temperature we won’t let anyone else make it for us

A quarter of us drink at least 5 cups a day but only 20% use a teapot and even fewer a cup and saucer. And loose tea and a strainer? Not these days.

The Chairman of the Tea Council, William Gorman, says we still drink tea because we know it’s good for us (so is coffee by the way). He syas it calms our muscles, hydrates us, and has less caffeine than coffee.

The market for black the has not grown but green, white, and herbal tea sales are increasing by 7% each year and make up 10% of the market.

The problem is buying tea in a cafe. Its ether stewed or not boiled long enough. Personally I object to paying so much for a teabag and some hot water. At least with coffee you know it’s pretty much quality controlled. Which is why the vast majority of tea-drinking is done at home.

I drink both tea and coffee. For years I drank tea with milk (and sugar a long time ago). Then when I started going to Lithuania in 2005 I discovered that they only serve tea with milk, and hot milk at that, for children.

Their preferred method is tea with a slice of lemon and a teaspoonful of honey. At first I stuck to black tea but one night a couple of years ago the bar staff made a mistake and gave me green tea instead.

I’d only ever had green tea in a Chinese restaurant before but I liked it with the lemon and honey and have stuck with that ever since including back at home.

P1000865In fact although I might have a couple of milky coffees a day I tend to only have one cup of tea with milk and start and finish the day with green tea, lemon and honey.

Pram-free coffee cafe

Call me a coffee nazi but you have to admire Ralf Rüller the owner of the Barn Roastery in Berlin.

He has a purist approach to coffee drinking to say the least.

He bans extra milk, spoons (he frowns on sugar), laptops, dogs, mobile phone ringtones and loud phone calls (well with a name that sounds like Ralf the Ruler in English what do you expect?)

But the rule that’s had his approach labelled a “totalitarian coffee regime” is his ban on prams! He built a bollard in the doorway with a “prams not allowed” sign on it to prevent prams being brought into his cafe (it can be lifted for wheelchairs).

Ralf is a coffee connoisseur who believes the brewing process should be respected and that people who go to drink it should also be respected. He claims it’s not about discrimination but specialisation when competing with the big coffee chains.

People are divided: there are those who say children don’t drink coffee anyway and the Green party which says it is “a socially incorrect affront to families”. Some mums appreciate the pushchair ban and there are plenty of other coffee shops which welcome kids in prams.

I’m on his side. Although I have a family member whose child pretty much learned to walk tottering around outside Costa Coffee I hate having to climb over those “off-road” style buggies in smaller cafes.

I’ve previously posted elsewhere about having to forgo my favourite bistro, where my colleague and I would relax on the leather settees enjoying a glass of wine and a cup of coffee whilst catching up on business, after they introduced children’s menus.

Once that happened we had to compete with young mums on their phones competing with their babies’ demands for attention, not to mention food on the floor and sticky fingers on the furniture. Not a productive environment. So all respect to Ralf!

Coffee gets competitive

Are you a Costa, Nero, or a Starbucks coffee lover?

We all have our favourites. For me Caffè Nero is too strong and Starbucks is too weak so I plump for Costa.

Starbucks has just announced that it will be providing a free extra shot in all it’s espresso-based drinks after they found that there had been a 60% increase in the number of customers paying 35p for an extra shot.

It’s a bold move which means they are forfeiting £70k a week in revenues in the hope of denting Costa’s market domination.

Although I prefer Costa I have one little niggle. You get 2, 3, and 4 shots of espresso as you move from the small to the large size. You have to pay for extra shots but if, like me, you only want 3 shots in a large drink you don’t get it any cheaper.