Tag Archives: Starbucks

Caffé Nero

Now you might be a bit surprised by this post because we are reviewing a multinational coffee house – Caffé Nero to be exact, one of these dastardly companies that pays no tax .. prepare yourself for a bit of a rant. Of course we never thought we would have to review such places because we did not think any of them did scones .. but we were mistaken, Caffé Nero does (maybe because it is British), so we felt duty bound to give them a try. The whole tax thingy is a bit of a mess. Starbucks takes the brunt of the criticism because they are the biggest and the most famous. Nero 03Caffé Nero has not paid any UK tax since 2008 because it exploits the same loopholes that Starbucks and all the others use (Boots has avoided £1.2b) by simply not being registered in the UK. There is nothing illegal about this practice so our sympathies lie with the companies which, like all companies, are duty bound to maximise profits for their share holders .. otherwise they are deemed to be negligent. The problem lies with the loopholes themselves and that is a governmental issue. The UK government gets a lot of stick for not closing them but, if you are expecting them to take decisive action any time soon, don’t hold your breath .. most of the government exploits the exact same loopholes for their own personal benefit. Luckily, the European Commission is not so queasy about tackling the problem. They recently decreed that Starbuck’s tax exemption in the Netherlands amounted to a state subsidy, was therefore illegal, and ordered them to repay £22m to the Dutch government. They did the same for Fiat which is registered in Luxembourg and presumably this principle will apply to all multinationals in due course .. if it does we should all benefit .. hurrah! As far as the UK is concerned there may also be light at the end of the tunnel .. not because of government action, heaven forbid, but because, Crickhowell, a small town in Powys has elected to move ‘offshore’ and registered all it’s businesses in the Isle of Man … the same as Caffé Nero, and now they will no longer have to pay tax either .. brilliant! No skullduggery .. all done in discussion with HMRC.  If all towns were to follow suit, and we cannot see why they wouldn’t, perhaps then the UK government might eventually waken up to the concerns of ordinary people who have to pay every last penny in tax .. or go to jail. Enough of all that frippery we hear you cry .. the scones! Reviewing this particular Caffé Nero is a little unusual because it means that the result applies across all of it’s 600 outlets .. they are all the same .. it is their main selling point. When you go into a Caffé Nero, or a Starbucks for that matter, you know exactly what environment and quality to expect .. fantastico! Not sure how they do it, presumably there is some sort of black magic involved, but the scone we have here in Falkirk will be exactly the same as the one we would have in Canterbury or Belfast or wherever .. is that just clever, or is it slightly spooky? Nero 02Our scone came complete with butter and jam and, if we had wanted, a sealed tub of clotted cream. All in all it was quite good. Doesn’t fit the criterion, so it never had a hope of getting a topscone award but we can see how folk coming into Caffé Nero could ask for this and enjoy it, so hats off to them for being able to produce this level of standardised product across all it’s outlets. The bad news today is that 10 Tory MPs sat through the debate on the Scotland Bill then 400 came in to vote down all the Scottish amendments .. it will now fester for months in the unelected Lords. The good news is that a wee firm in Crieff is to start exporting oil to the Middle East .. okay it’s rapeseed oil … but still, maybe they would like scones as well?

FK1 1NR      tel: 01324 623906       Caffé Nero

Lite Bites – Tarbert

Tarbert is not exactly overburdened with café-culture type establishments and that’s a shame because it could do with some. Of course it is easy for the likes of us to swan in to a town like this and be super critical simply because we are used to something different .. we don’t have to maintain a place through the winter when visitors are few and far between .. if not completely absent, otherwise Starbucks or Costa would have set up long ago. However, if there is a really good coffee shop in Tarbert, you need to shout louder because we could not find you. Tarbert03The town itself is built round the harbour which is not nearly as busy as it once was with fishing and now features an extensive marina which you would think would bring in a fair amount of money but in fact, the whole place looks a wee bit run down and tired. It does not help the overall impression  when you eventually find a coffee shop situated in a building that would not have looked out of place in the old  Soviet Russia … if Argyll has a town planning department it has some very serious questions to answer! Tarbert01Anyway, Lite Bites has a certain utilitarian feel to it as well, probably inspired by the building, but it is busy busy, so the hard working folks running it are doing something right and seem to get on well with the local people. Our scones were okay but as you might expect in a no-frills kind of place, presentation was a touch on the austere side. Hopefully Lite Bites and Tarbert itself will get a bit of a facelift before long.

PA29 6UJ            tel: 01880 820191             Lite Bites TripAd