Connecting our communities

Our stores play an important role in keeping us together, but without them open, finding ways to stay connected can be tough. With the help of our partners, discover our weekly updates on how we can keep those connections strong.

Keeping connected, the Costa way

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We know our stores are at the heart of the communities we serve. They help connect our customers through schemes like Chatty Cafe and act as a meeting place for community groups to catch up and share moments together over their favourite coffee.

We want to keep supporting these community connections even while our stores are closed. We’ll keep sharing new tips and tricks from each of our partners, who help us deliver our community and sustainability programmes, to help keep us connected at home.

This week, food waste company OLIO, are sharing their top 3 recipes you can make with leftovers to help your food go further.

The OLIO guide to 3 easy recipes you can make with any leftovers

At Costa Coffee, we’re committed to playing our part in reducing waste wherever possible, and tackling food waste is a really important part of this. We enable all our store teams to donate food surplus to charity and work hard to make sure we try and reduce food surplus happening in the first place through an efficient food ordering system. However, where food is left over, we want to make sure that its put to good use and we’ve been partnering with OLIO for the last few years to make sure we do just that. OLIO is a free app that connects neighbours with each other and Food Waste Hero volunteers with local businesses, to share food (and other things) rather than throw them away.

Self-isolation, social restrictions, and lengthy supermarket queues are encouraging all of us to make meals go further. This is a time when more than ever, we are all thinking how to eat more efficiently and get creative with things we already have at home. To help you do this the OLIO team have shared their top 3 suggestions that will help you make fun and tasty meals, using up practically any leftovers you’ve got!

Chili con Anything

Chili con carne

Usually, chili con carne refers to 'chili with meat', a spicy stew containing chili peppers, meat, and often tomatoes and beans. Some versions include garlic, onions or cumin. The original recipe is said to come from the Mexican population residing in Texas, but, over the years, has been adapted to suit different tastes, and is perfect to conjure up a tasty dish from any leftovers and store cupboard ingredients. As long as you have tomato puree, or fresh tomatoes, you are good to go. You can use anything from mince meat or quorn, kidney beans, carrots, celery, bell peppers, sweet potatoes, or any other tinned vegetable.

Let's go

HEAT oil in a large saucepan. FRY the onion and garlic until softened. ADD mince, or any other ingredients of your choice and STIR in the tomatoes, tomato purée, fresh chilli or chilli flakes. SEASON with salt and pepper or smoked paprika, and COOK for about 50 minutes until the mixture is rich and thick. SERVE with rice and salad, or anything else to suit your palette.

Chana Chaat

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This is a traditional savoury Indian street food dish, which uses potato pieces, sev (fried noodles), chickpeas and often fresh coriander and yoghurt garnish. Popular variations include onion, hot spices or dried ginger. The star ingredients of a chaat dish are chickpeas, but even those can be substituted with another tinned pulse. You can really add anything into this dish, fresh or tinned vegetables, cold or hot meats or savoury pastries (e.g. sausage rolls), the opportunities are endless.

Let's go

FRY a teaspoon of cumin seeds and mustard seeds in a pan and then ADD chickpeas and potatoes with tomato puree and tamarind sauce. If you don’t have the latter you can easily use ketchup or sriracha (anything tangy will do the job). COMBINE the ingredients of your choice in a bowl. TOP it with yogurt mixed with sugar and ground cumin, or other spices of your choice. SPRINKLE with bombay mix, or crushed crisps, chopped red or white onions, fresh herbs like coriander, or freshly chopped tomatoes, or even pomegranate seeds if you are feeling lavish. REFRIGERATE for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Frittatas

Frittata

Traditionally, this is an egg-based Italian dish, very similar to an omelette or scrambled eggs, with some extra ingredients such as cheese, meats or vegetables, which are baked together and can be served hot or cold. The word “frittata” is Italian and translates to "fried” in English, and the beauty of the frittata is its versatility. You can add anything you have in the fridge or the cupboard into the mix. If you don’t eat egg, don’t worry, you can soak split mung beans or chickpea flour to make a golden vegan frittata base. Some of our suggestions include: asparagus and potato, squash pea and feta, spinach and pepper, courgette or simply cheese.

Let's go

BEAT eggs, liquid (eg. milk, tomato juice, broth), herbs and salt and pepper in a medium bowl until blended. ADD fillings of your choice and stir. HEAT oil in a pan and POUR IN the mixture; cook over low to medium heat until almost set, 8 to 10 minutes. REMOVE from heat and COVER and LET STAND until mixture is completely set and CUT into wedges.

 

Want to learn more? Check below for previously shared tips from our partners.

Costa are proud to have partnered with Chatty Cafe for several years – and in 2018 we launched the Chatty Cafe scheme in over 350 stores across the UK.

Every store that takes part has a dedicated “Chatter and Natter” table where people can sit and start a conversation with someone new. It’s been so popular that some of our stores have regular community group meetings using the Chatter and Natter tables.

Chatty Cafe brings people together and also addresses wider community issues around social isolation and loneliness. This January, Chatty Cafe Founder Alex Hoskyn was recognised by the Prime Minister with a Points of Light Award for her fantastic work on combating loneliness through the scheme. Unusually, the Government’s Minister for Loneliness decided she wanted to meet Alexandra to present her award in person – in our Hanley Drive-Thru store in Stoke.

The impact of the UK’s Coronavirus lockdown on the Chatty Cafe scheme has been huge, as people can no longer gather together to communicate face-to-face. Chatty Cafe has adapted and found new ways to help people who are likely to be feeling more isolated than ever before.

Founder, Alex Hoskyn says:
“The Chatty Cafe scheme began in 2017 when I visited a cafe and felt a little lonely. When I looked around, I saw others sat on their own and felt that they would probably enjoy some conversation with their coffee as much as me! Three years on and the scheme is now in over 1,400 venues across the UK and also Canada, Poland, Gibraltar and Australia!”

Virtual Chatty Cafe
Alex and her team have set up a weekly Virtual Chatty Cafe using video conferencing tool Zoom, held every Friday. This gives people the opportunity to chat ‘face-to-face’ with a coffee in the comfort of their own front room. It’s a great way to meet new people and, for some, this connection is their only human interaction that day. Numbers are kept small to replicate a Chatter and Natter table as much as possible and to make sure everyone gets a chance to speak. These virtual chats will continue for as long as they are needed. If you’d like to get involved, see details below.

The Chatty Cafe team have also provided us with some great tips on how to reduce loneliness – they’re simple and effective ways to stay connected and feeling more positive.

1. Keep chatting with friends and family
Use video calls if possible, but if not call or email to check in with the people you care about to keep those connections healthy.

2. Chat to your neighbours
Have a quick catch up over the fence – even a 5-minute conversation can leave you feeling uplifted.

3. Pick up a book
Getting lost in a good book will help you forget about stress and worries, and enter another world for a short time. Check out the Costa Book Awards for inspiration .

4. Set a routine
Sticking to set meal times, bed times and work time (as well as time for relaxation and hobbies) will help you to maintain good sleep habits and a sense of normality.

5. Join a Virtual Chatty Cafe!
To join the sessions, held every Friday, just reach out to Jenny from the Chatty Cafe team for the meeting ID and details. Email Jenny.

Reducing food waste wherever possible is very important to us all. Here at Costa, we make it possible for all our store teams to donate food that’s leftover to charity. And we work hard to try and reduce food being leftover in the first place by having an efficient food ordering system.

We also partner with Too Good To Go, a free app that helps people to track down delicious unsold food at a reduced price to save it from going to waste. As experts on making the most of food, we asked Too Good To Go for their top tips on making food go further in the home.

Here are their top 8 ways to make your food work harder:

1. Know exactly what’s in your kitchen cupboards and fridge

Make it a habit to go through fridges and kitchen cupboards twice a week and note down any food that might go off soon. It’s a good idea to do this alongside other weekly chores so it’s easier to remember. Many of the things you find can be easily incorporated into meals you’ve already planned: the last few tablespoons of yoghurt can be whizzed into a smoothie, while a wilting pepper can be roasted, chopped and tossed into a salad.

2. Make a meal plan - but keep it flexible

Once you've audited your kitchen cupboards and made a note of what you have in stock, make a weekly meal plan and shopping lists will become much simpler. Remember to keep meal plans flexible as some products aren’t as readily available as normal. Why not get creative and choose recipes where it doesn’t matter if a few ingredients need to be swapped? Think curries, stews and hearty salads.

3. Embrace the opportunity to experiment

Right now, to satisfy demand, some shops have less variety on their shelves. This means that some ingredients for recipes might not be there for you when you shop, but that could lead to some great cooking! The best cuisines have always been born from using what’s available. Embrace this chance to explore new ways to work with ingredients.

4. Check fridge temperatures

The average UK fridge is set to seven degrees, at least two degrees warmer than it should be! Milk stored at this temperature can spoil after just a few hours, instead of the five days it can last. But it’s not just about adjusting settings. Fridges easily heat up because of things we do without even thinking, like adding food that hasn't completely cooled down from cooking or accidentally leaving the door open. Moving away from these small habits can make a big difference to how long food lasts.

5. But remember: there’s such a thing as TOO cold

Tropical and subtropical foods such as melons, aubergine, bananas and peppers should be kept at room temperature – they don’t keep well in a fridge.

6. Don’t treat best before dates as a fixed rule

Use by dates are about safety and should always be followed, especially on meat, fish and ready-to-eat salads. Best before dates are different – they’re indicators of quality. If an item is past its best before date but still looks and smells fine, it’s probably okay to eat. Most of the time senses can be trusted, but with harder-to-tell items (such as eggs) there are clever ways to make the call. Try popping eggs in a bowl of water - as long as they don’t float to the top, they’re safe to eat!

7. Use the whole thing

Too often, we throw away perfectly edible parts of produce just because it’s what we’ve always done. Broccoli stalks make a tasty addition to a stir fry and green stalks of strawberries are a great source of fibre.

8. Read up on what can be frozen

Dairy products can be frozen and defrosted, and still eaten. Just make it a bit easier by grating hard cheese before it is frozen, and be sure to give defrosted skimmed milk a good shake before using it. Eggs can also do surprisingly well in the freezer. Just beat them until blended, and pour them into freezer containers, labelling the containers with how many eggs are in each.

When coffee grounds are thrown in the general waste bin and sent to landfill they emit methane, a harmful greenhouse gas and a major contributor to climate change. To help reduce waste and emissions, Costa Coffee sends their used grounds to bio-bean, where the grounds are recycled into sustainable products, like Coffee Logs.

But what are your options at home? We’ve all heard that rinsing them down the drain can clog our pipes. So we’ve dug around for some creative alternative ways to give your coffee grounds at home a second life and many of them are perfect activities for the whole family.

Take a look at our top 5 tips:

1. Neutralise odours
Coffee grounds are great as an odour absorber. Placing a bowl of dried, used coffee grounds in your fridge or freezer will help neutralise any unpleasant odours. You can even keep some grounds by the kitchen sink to scrub your hands with after chopping garlic or onions.

2. Keep pests off your garden plants
The grainy texture of coffee grounds acts as an effective barrier to pests in your garden like snails and slugs. Build up little walls of used coffee grounds around your potted plants and you’ve got an organic pesticide.

3. Touch up scratched furniture
Try touching up scuffs and scratches on dark, wooden furniture with coffee grounds. First, make a paste of used coffee grounds and water. Then, using a cotton bud, apply the paste to the affected area. Wait about 10-15 minutes, then buff away the grounds with a cotton rag. The coarse texture of the grounds acts as a gentle scrub and the pigment helps to darken the area.

4. Fertilise your garden or window box
Coffee grounds make great fertiliser because they contain several key nutrients required for plant growth. And apparently, they also help attract worms! For great results, add the grounds to a compost heap.

5. Scour your pots and pans
The course texture of coffee grounds makes them a great aide for cleaning up cookware harbouring hard-to-remove, baked-on food. Just put some coffee grounds directly onto your pots and pans and scrub as usual. When you’ve finished, wipe away the extra grounds and put them in your compost or food recycling. That way you avoid rinsing them down the drain!

It’s amazing that coffee grounds are so versatile from the first time they’re used to the last. We hope this gives you plenty of ways you can reuse the ones you’ve enjoyed at home.

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