CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> 200°


A week ago, to celebrate Sheffield’s annual Tramlines music festival without forking out the extravagant cost of a ticket, I took my usual walk into town and down Division Street to check out whatever fringe bands happened to be playing in pubs and bars as well as the usual street performers. As I was nearing Barker's Pool I passed by a new coffee roasters I hadn’t heard of, 200° Coffee. As I was much more interested in a pint than a coffee at the time, I decided to return a few days later to sample the latter.

The place is fairly large and the decor is a mixture of browns, both wood and leather. I ordered a double macchiato and, as I desired a bit more lightness, I took a seat at the window counter next to the ubiquitous sight of a young man working away on his laptop. My double macchiato was served quickly, in a fairly large red and white cup and saucer, which of course inspired me to take the following photo.

The coffee was very smooth which usually disappoints me, but it had a particular luscious flavour, possibly because it's roasted here. As I sat enjoying my red-framed coffee I watched people passing by on Division Street. The cafe is located between a Sainsbury’s Local and the former Castle Market butcher’s and fishmonger’s shop called Simmonite. Just across the road is Geek-Man (not surprisingly another mobile phone repair shop) and the very tempting Let’s Sushi, and there is also quite a pleasing diagonal view of the grade II listed Palazzo-styled Sheffield Water Works building, which is now a Wetherspoons pub.

The name 200° comes from the temperature at which they roast their beans -- although in the current heat wave some intolerant souls might think it's referring to the outside temperature. Besides the Sheffield shop, the roasters have other outlets in Nottingham, Leeds, Birmingham, Leicester, and Cardiff. You can buy their ethically sourced beans in the cafe or online. Along with Brazilian Love Affair Espresso Blend, which they use for their coffee drinks, they also offer La Nina de Guatemala, Tanzania PB Supreme, Costa Rica La Cabana, Brain Tumour Charity Blend, and Mellowship Slinky Decaf, all for £8 for 250 grams. They also offer free coffee delivery to homes and offices.

On the side counter of the cafe is an extensive selection of pastries including the most colossal scones I have ever seen. There is also a lunch menu featuring sandwiches, but frustratingly again there is nothing there I’d be interested in. The choices are either meat, which I don’t eat, or vegan, which I’ll happily eat if it sounds good; but apparently you can’t get a sandwich with cheese unless you order a chicken sandwich. More and more places are starting to offer cheese-resistant menus, forcing people to decide whether they’re either carnivores or lactose-intolerant. This anti-cheese vegan hipster trend -- and currently it is a trend rather than a considered dietary choice -- is going too far. I'm sorry, but I will keep railing on about the elimination of cheese and/or egg options from some of the latest cafe and pub menu offerings.

If this continues I'll suppose I'll just have to move to the Continent...

Speaking of cheese reminds me of a recent email conversation with my Bay Area friend:

I was delighted to run into a book I'd read about recently while shelving books at work: Does It Fart? by Dani Rabaiotti and Nick Caruso. Paging through it I found a full page dedicated to each of about 100 creatures, each with the subtitle "Does it fart? Yes" or "Does it fart? No". There is one unique creature mentioned, as follows:

SPIDER (Scientific Name (Order): Araneae
DOES IT FART? NOBODY KNOWS
Spider flatulence is an oddly understudied topic in scientific literature, but we can look to their digestive system for some clues. Spiders do the vast majority of digestion outside their body, injecting their prey with venom from their fangs before ejecting sputum, full of digestive enzymes, from their mouths, through the fang holes and into the body of their prey. They then wait whilst the digestive juices break down tissues inside the exoskeleton or, in some cases, skin of their prey. Spiders will then suck up the liquidy goodness into their mouths and stomachs, then they regurgitate it and eat it again. This happens a number of times, as spider digestive systems can only handle liquids—which means no lumps! It would seem likely that spiders ingest air during this process—one of the key elements needed for a fart.

Once they have extracted all the nutrients, in an organ called the ceaca, the food passes to the stercoral sac, where the moisture is extracted before anything left over is excreted through the anus as waste. Since the stercoral sac contains bacteria, which helps break down the spider's food, it seems likely that gas is produced during this process, and therefore there is certainly the possibility that spiders do fart. No work has been done to verify this to date, however, so the truth remains a mystery until urgently needed research funding is allocated.

And the final chapter:

HUMAN (Species Name (Species): Homo sapiens
DOES IT FART? YES
If you are reading this you are undoubtedly aware of the ability of the human species, like other primates, to fart. Unlike other primates, though, our species appears to experience emotions associated with our farts: namely shame, embarrassment, disgust, but also joy, schadenfreude (joy in other's misfortune) or perhaps even delight.

Humans have long been fascinated by their farts, which is exemplified by the odd myths and folklore surrounding them. For example, the water sprite, kappa, in Japanese folklore, is believed to be repelled by especially strong farts, while an Innu spirit of the anus named Matshishkapeu, which translates as "the fart man", is a powerful and humorous spirit that is believed to be able to predict the future. Farts even appear in Dante Alighieri's famous poem Inferno, in which the demons' sign for the march was made by 'a trumpet of his ass'.

Not surprisingly, those humans who do not wish for their farts to be known have devised ways to blame others for their gas, and the dog (page 74) is a common scapegoat. However, all humans fart, and it happens every day, typically around 10 to 20 times each day, although this can be as high as 50 bouts of flatulence with increased flatus frequency, much like other animals, when diets are higher in fibre.

Fascinating. It seems this book is very well researched and well reasoned. Now we just need the observational science to confirm that spiders fart. I wonder if there is a crowd funding campaign for this purpose somewhere. In any case, we should no longer be so sceptical of those people who claim that sound we heard was a barking spider.

Hmm, no obvious funding drive on that topic, but I did find a Kickstarter campaign to develop a "Wearable "CH4" fart tracker that keeps a daily log of your rear end gas emissions."

This could be useful. I'm proud to say that my own gas emissions fall in the high end of the normal human range. But I don't think I've come close to my quota yet today.