It has been noted by some that I am quite partial to a cup of coffee*. So for me the London Coffee Festival was an event that has been on my calendar for months. I spent hours poring over the website, trying to figure out the best day to go to see all my coffee idols. The day arrived, and off to the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane I headed.
Turns out I was not the only one to be so coffee addicted and fangirl–ish. When I arrived the line stretched around the block and people were waiting for more than an hour to get in. People in London REALLY like their coffee.
Inside the Brewery was divided into Hyde Park, Soho, Shoreditch and The Lab, and each stall had their own London street sign with their name on it. Hyde Park was a lovely (fake) grassy area with picnic tables a bar and a band rotunda. It was the place to chill out (or attempt to with all that caffeine running through your veins) and listen to some great music. Hyde Park was also home to the chocolatiers – Lindt and Green and Blacks had stalls facing each other and it seemed like they were competing for the most chocolate they could give away. I was happy to oblige and eventually decided that the Lindt Crunchy Caramel chocolate was the winner on the day.
Shoreditch was the home of food food food, and an artisan market for all your unique coffee fetishes. The food was brilliant as expected; it looks like they took the cream of the usual Brick Lane Sunday crop to balance out the coffee jitters. The artisan market was a bit of an eye opener for me – who knew I needed all these special little coffee tools to make my home brew? To be fair I think most of the things on sale were aimed at the small cafes and it was absolutely fabulous to see all the entrepreneurs out there with the next great idea.
The Lab was all sorts of fun. Different exhibitors took over this stark white space throughout the day, some were demonstraiting innovative drinks or running tasting sessions, but I got to the Lab just in time for the Rocket Races. Volcano Coffee Works and Rocket Espresso Milano had teamed up, and were running races between members of the public – and the winner could get on the new R58 home expresso machines that they were racing on. Oh did I not mention that, the race entailed them making the perfect Flat White, pouring a glass of water and then making and buttering a piece of toast. The score was not only based on time but also the skill and quality of the coffee. Highlight had to be one contestant who just thought Fuck it, I am going to impress the judge with an amazing cup of coffee. He may have taken about 10 minutes longer then the other contestants – but his coffee was brilliant.
When I got round to Soho I was a little disappointed to be honest. Not in the range or quality of the coffee, but because you had to pay for it. After people paying £16 to get in I honestly did not expect to have to pay for a cup of coffee – or if I did it would be at a seriously discounted rate. At Ozone coffee roasters for example it was £2 for a flat white. I understand it must be expensive for the small roasters to exhibit at these events, but for a punter having to pay for a coffee on top of the ticket price felt a bit hinky. Maybe the solution would be to give an espresso or something away for free and charge for the rest? Hats off to the Allpress team who were not charging – and were a crowd favourite.
*If I could have it on a permanent IV I would.
Runawaykiwi was a guest of the London Coffee Festival but all views expressed are my own.