CoffeeBeer >> Double Shot Buzz >> Dana

Back Buzz - September 4, 2017

When a friend recently told me that a vegetarian/vegan coffee house had opened in our mutual neighbourhood, naturally I was intrigued. I mean, coffee already contains no meat, and if you use a nondairy milk product for your latte or cappuccino it also contains no animal products. I did take a quick spin past it on its opening weekend, and that's when I realised the vegetarian/vegan part referred to the cafe food. All right, said my pescatarian self, sounds like a great idea.

It took me a couple of months to work up the ambition to climb up the hill one day before work. I mean, I happily make that same climb all the time, well after my two morning coffees and with no weighty encumbrances. But the thought of doing it in the morning, barely awake, with my job-bound backpack weighing me down was a little bit daunting.

A few days ago, as it was a rare slightly sunny Friday, I steeled myself to go. And it was a much easier climb than I had anticipated, proving to myself that I am indeed Super Coffee Reviewer Personified. And of course my need for another caffeine hit propelled me eagerly through the door.

It was very busy for a Friday morning, and it sounded like a few orders were being delayed and confused. I was hoping that my simple single-drink nonfood order would happen quickly.

I needn't have worried. My double macchiato was served in a richly potting-soil brown double-macchiato-sized cup. The foam had already faded to a matching coffee brown, but it was quite good and robust, and I was indeed happy. And the two bottles of water and glasses on a side table for customers was a nice touch. My number 9 spoon which I was given when I ordered and paid was never taken away, and I did have to bus my own space at a communal table. But these are probably just growing pains for a cafe that probably didn't expect to be this popular at first.

The food menu features breakfasts which include full veggie (with tofu option for eggs) and sourdough toast options; vegetarian sandwiches (including a tempting tempeh and avocado, or the halloumi with avocado also sounds good), and a Hendo's and Sage burger with cheddar and fries. Several items come with homemade tomato lime and coriander relish which sounds quite yum, and the breads are all from the Welbeck Bakery in Worksop. I decided that considering how crowded the place was with diners, the food must be pretty good. I'll have to give it a try some day.

The drinks menu lists the usual coffee drinks as well as iced coffee, and they do twelve kinds of teas. As it's also a vegan cafe I'm sure you can probably get your cappuccinos with soy, rice, or almond milk if you ask. But I still prefer mine with a proper moo. I am quite happy, though, that there's absolutely no danger of any bacon bits being sprinkled on my flat white.

Dana came about from a crowdfunding appeal by a group of friends from the Sheffield Buddhist Centre in Walkley. The word "dana" basically means the Buddhist practice of generosity, and profits from the cafe go to the Buddhist Centre and to charities such as SAFAR (Sheffield Action for Alcohol Recovery). When I left the man who seemed to be in charge told me he likes the whole idea of macchiatos. And he thanked me for coming, all very real and natural. I leapt out the door and hurried down the street, jet-propelled into going with the flow of catching the next bus to work.

Speaking of going with the flow reminds me of a very recent Facebook posting session with an old techie friend:

This is what people are afraid in such things as self driving cars and autonomous robot soldiers. It's not that the concept is wrong. But when you do a half-ass job of understanding the consequences of easy automation, you run the risk of serious unintended consequences. How A Book About Flies Came To Be Priced $24 Million On Amazon Two booksellers using Amazon's algorithmic pricing to ensure they were generating marginally more revenue than their main competitor ended up pushing the price of a book on evolutionary biology -- Peter Lawrence's The Making of a Fly -- to $23,698,655.93. This is amazing! How many days did it take to reach 23 million? I'm just too lazy to do the maths. I'm actually not sure how long those pricing algorithms were dueling. I'm sure that it was weeks or months, if not a couple of years. In any case, before you make this into a business plan, remember that the appreciation in price was on paper only. No one bought those books at those prices. But I can imagine a dystopian world where a computer program is trying to procure a book, looks at the market, and says, "yup. that's the market price. buy.". In fact, some famous mistakes in financial market trading have basically done that. More ideas for my next novel! Eagerly awaited by me!