Latte Levy and Paper cups.

When Parliment’s Environment Audit Committee published a report stating that fewer than 1 in 400 take out coffee cups are recycled.; and suggested the introduction of a “latte levy” (25p charge per take out cup) it created a storm within our industry. 

I asked on social media:

What are your thoughts on paper cup tax?

Although we were already using compostable cups, lids, straws and boxes, we were interested in what our customers thought about the proposed latte levy; as being greener is a big drive for us over 2018.


We asked

>>>> do you think the government should encourage more people to reuse by charging a covert tax?


 >>>> where does ultimate responsibility lie? Government, business or consumer?


The resulting conversation was fascinating and showed a broad spectrum of ideas which I’ve rounded up below (alongside some industry commentary on the topic too) 👇



Many felt that although we should reuse; until our hand is forced (by money or otherwise) we do not change our lifestyle. 

Most who commented on our post supported a levy on single use cups, citing plastic bag tax has demonstrated we will change our ways if forced (plastic bag use has gone down circa 80pc with the 5p tax).

>>>> this is an economic theory of loss aversion, and is explained neatly here

Is this a simple answer to the problem? 

Possibly not, as although the consumer would be paying more, and many may end up reusing their own cups, there could be unplanned consequences for many shops, specifically within smaller independent speciality coffee venues.

United Baristas responded to the news of the latte levy with a neat blog (see here) detailing the economics of most coffee shops operating from sites with an A1 basis (and therefore dependent upon take out sales to remain within the law). The proposed levy could see many of these sites breaking the law, and as such having to close.

Potentially the businesses that try the hardest environmentally would be the ones closing, rather than the big boys. 



Some commented on a practice seen in some of the larger chains whereby ONLY paper cups are available, even if you are drinking in.

Claire neatly emphasised this point by describing New York:

“This scale of this issue hit me last month on a trip to NYC with over 340 Starbucks in manhattan alone and no “drink in” mug options there were literally thousands of coffee cups being discarded every minute. Everywhere I looked there were paper cups in bins or being held by people for a few short moments before being thrown away.


Wow. See previous point above 👆 



At our shop we use compostable or recyclable cups, straws and take out consumables as standard. As a business this costs us more to do, but we feel that this is a better alternative than single use plastic.  

The issue, which was outlined by the steering committees suggestion of a latte levy is that many of the cups being used are not able to be recycled. If the cups are replaced by environmentally friendly products then would this be the answer to the problem?

Perhaps, yet these are not without their own issues. We found that many of our customers were not aware that our cups were even compostable in the first place, and those that did know were not always able to dispose of them correctly. If these cups end up with normal waste, is there any point in using them? 



Does this mean the problem lies within a lack of government/local authority response to the waste issue. With a changing society do they need to provide different waste collection solutions. I find it crazy that you can go to other cities or countries and they provide sperate waste bins on street as standard. England has been behind on this issue for many years.

Dean stated that:

If a council can't provide waste paper cup recycling bins on the high street then that borough has no business applying any sort of tax to paper cups.”

George said that we needed to ensure that consumers were disposing of cups correctly, and even more importantly that councils had a responsibility to ensure there are adequate bins/collection points:

“Businesses can only go so far, the rest is in the hands of others.” 



We found that as many supported a levy on single use cups; most also supported this with compostable cups, stating that there should be an additional tax on all single use packaging items. 

The aim should be for all to reduce, reuse and recycle.  

Some people went even further by saying there should be an outright ban on single use cups; e.g. unless you bring your own cup then you shouldn’t be allowed to have a take out coffee.

In an ideal world, that is surely the ultimate aim and with a breadth of reusable cup companies out there, from keep cup to frank green there is a reusable cup to suit all budgets. 



We do support some form of tax on take out paper cups, but believe that this should be extended to all single use items that are not able to be recycled or composted. For us, this includes supermarket plastic waste (which is in our eyes a bigger problem)

We believe that there should be better waste infrastructure to enable consumers to deal with waste appropriately and that cups should have disposal information on them.

Mostly we believe in promoting a reuse culture. For us, this is where we should be, and where the aim has to be.  

Sure, they are a little clunky to carry around, but most of us carry a bag that will fit a cup in it. (And most importantly) coffee tastes so much better when not drunk from a paper cup ✌️



Following on from this conversation we increased our discount for using a “reusable cup” from 10% to 15%. We are now looking at other ways to promote less waste within our community and are very excited to have the support of Clare Seek and others who are doing so much in the local community. 

On Tuesday 13th February after some lobbying from local green groups Portsmouth council passed a motion to work towards become a plastic free city. More information of the campaign can be found as it develops  here 




Back in February I discussed how this year nourishing food was poised to have its moment. As I look around I see more and more food establishments offering nutritious twists on classics and menu items such as overnight oats, energy balls and smashed avocado. Healthy food looks like it is here to stay, and indeed the top food trends forecasted for 2017 are centred in health and wellness. One of these predictions is raw, which is something I often get asked about; so here are the reasons why I love raw food.

Often associated with plant based (vegan) cuisine, raw foods are sometimes referred to as living and are usually not heated to above 41 degrees. Keeping food raw is thought to help its nutrients, enzymes and vitamins remain intact and therefore be beneficial for our overall wellbeing. For me, it is also deeply tasty; fresh food tastes good.

As a food producer I believe that we have a responsibility to prepare foods that not only taste and look good, but also nourish and from a professional viewpoint, raw food can help bridge this gap between culinary art and nutrition. It excites me that new techniques are being developed all the time and it is possible to create raw crackers, pates, ice cream and even jam (yes, really).

My favourite raw food – cake has been having its moment for a while. Raw cakes use replacement ingredients that nourish our bodies; for example cashews or macadamia nuts can be soaked and blended in place of cheese to create “cheezecakes”; caramels can be made from dates and flours from seeds. What is not to like, when a cake tastes great, provides you with good fat and proteins and leaves you feeling sustained without the sugar crash? Never has the term have your cake and eat it been so apt.

Minimally processed fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds can help to support overall better health and also happen to taste incredible when prepared with the right ingredients and skills; but don’t despair if you are not in a professional kitchen as it is easy to incorporate more raw foods into your diet (and most of us do this without even realising). Add salads and simple uncooked sides to your main meals, try a juice or smoothie; eat fresh fruit and you will be on your way in no time at all.


This was published in Southsea Lifestyle - November 2016


I love nuts and seeds and for anyone on a predominantly plant based diet they are a great source of protein, good fat, minerals and vitamins. 

You may often find recipes call for you to soak your nuts citing the removal of phytate; indeed if you have eaten our raw granola or any of our cakes, you may know that we soak our nuts. If you'd like to know WHY? here is a guide to what phytate is, and why we soak our nuts. 

Phosphorus is the second most abundant mineral in our body and around 80-90% of it is found within our bones and teeth. It's many roles include working in conjunction with other vitamins and minerals (such as B group, calcium, magnesium and vitamin D) to encourage strong bones and teeth and it is also involved in the creation of energy. Symptoms of deficiency include weakened bones and teeth, fatigue, loss of appetite, low immunity and weakness. 

Phosphorus is available in most foods; and the best dietary sources are high protein foods which can include meat, fish, poultry and dairy. If you are following a plant based diet then a high source of phosphorus will be from plant seeds, nuts, legumes and the bran of grains however phosphorus in these foods is found in a bonded version called phytate, or phytic acid.

Only around 50% of this stored form of phosphorus is available to us as humans because we lack enzymes called phytases which are needed to release the phosphorus from the bonded form phytate for absorption. Additionally when eaten, phytate can also act as an inhibitor to other enzymes - binding to minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc and therefore if consumed at the same time may lead to a deficiency in these. Phytate can also inhibit digestive enzymes such as pepsin or trypsin which are needed for protein breakdown .

Techniques such as sprouting, fermenting and soaking may be recommended, especially if you follow a vegetarian, plant based or vegan diet. If we look back to traditional food techniques and our ancestors you will see that many of them soaked their grains prior to making porridge, bread and other foods, and these techniques can be employed today. Soaking nuts, seeds and grains can help release the phytate which can make the digestion of these foods easier, help with phosphorus absorption and the availability of the minerals consumed at the same time. Sprouting takes this one step further as enzyme inhibitors are reduced and at the same time healthy enzyme content is increased. 

So, when you see the words, soaked or activated - the food manufacturers may be referring to this process; activation usually calls for the soaked seeds to then be dehydrated. Eating nuts in this state may aid in easier digestion. Recipes for overnight oats and bircher muesli which call on soaking oats overnight also follow this same principle. We, ourselves, soak our nuts and seeds as we follow a plant based diet and for us we find it beneficial.