The London Coffee Festival 2015

 

Have you ever experienced that sensation of arriving in a far flung holiday destination and setting foot off the aeroplane to be hit by the heat? It’s not a feeling too dissimilar to walking into the London Coffee Festival, at the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. Even on a chilly May afternoon, entering the Festival was like landing in the tropics. Hot, hot, hot! Hardly surprising, we suppose, when you consider this is the UK’s largest coffee and artisan food event with what seemed like hundreds of coffee machines on the go, pumping out boiling water and steam for the thirsty crowds.

The Festival was heaving with people, shuffling their way from stand to stand, fuelled by caffeine and, in some cases, espresso martinis. It was a lot busier than we had seen it last year when we visited on a “trade day”, at times it did feel a bit too much. It was noisy too. DJs and live music provided the beat to which the crowds worked their way around the four exhibition rooms, visiting coffee roasters, tea and chocolate suppliers, food stalls and demo areas. And did we mention how hot it was?

 

You’re probably wondering why on earth we hung around. Well the truth is that this event is great fun. There is just so much to see and do – and taste – that you can quite easily lose yourself in the excitement for two or three hours. You don’t have to be a coffee aficionado to enjoy your time there either. There are ample opportunities to discover new products and chat to the experts. We even bumped into Winchester barista and latte art Champion, Dhan Tamang, giving someone a practical lesson in latte art.

 

For real coffee connoisseurs, the London Coffee Festival is a source of great coffee blends to taste and savour as well as an opportunity to pick up top notch equipment. All the big names are there and it’s a great opportunity for people in the industry to connect with each other in person. For people like us, however, it’s a fabulous opportunity to try new things.

For this reason, we made the somewhat uncharacteristic move to bypass the espresso martinis at the bar and try a chilled peach cascara iced tea. Cascara are the dried berries – or “cherries” – of the coffee plant which, when brewed, make a potent, sour, fruity infusion that is highly caffeinated. We had only previously tried it as a hot drink, when we visited Extract Coffee Roasters, so this was a refreshing eye opener.

We also tried a fairtrade soda called Karma Cola, made from actual cola nuts sourced directly from farmers in Sierra Leone. This is a company with strong values and we loved their story; please do check their website for more information.

It’s not all about drinks though. There’s a great selection of food available within the event. We were particularly excited to see our firm favourite, Crosstown, with a large stand selling their superlative doughnuts. Given where we were, we naturally opted for their matcha green tea option rather than our usual favourites. Delicious. And probably full of wonderful antioxidants…!

 

Whether or not you’re a coffee-lover, a visit to the London Coffee Festival is a great way to spend a couple of hours. Keep your eyes peeled for next year’s event. We’ll definitely be going back – but will make sure we’re dressed for an adventure in the tropics!

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