The Climpsons were out in full force at the London Coffee Festival over the May Bank holiday. More than 23,642 visitors (including 9,861 trade members) attended from 30 April – 03 May at the Old Truman Brewery in East London. Over caffeination was rife, but this was the best year for the speciality coffee industry being on show.
This year we were lucky enough to have representation across a number of avenues at the festival. Always a favourite is La Marzocco’s True Artisan Café - an opportunity for roasters across the UK to come together and showcase their favourite coffees of the moment and get a little creative with a signature drink. We combined forces with our pals at Dear Green Coffee Roasters in Glasgow and Origin Coffee Roasters in Cornwall to create the ultimate espresso Mega Mix Blend – each roaster selected a component of coffee to roast; then we all created a slightly different version of the same coffees. A little bit of fun for an industry that can be seen as a little too serious at times. Our signature drink was another collaboration tying in with our Climpson’s Arch residents som saa, the originally named ‘Thai Me Up’ was a festival favourite and sold out within the first two hours! A combination of espresso, coconut cream, sang som whisky and the secret ingredient *cough* condensed milk.
The festival is also seen as a launch pad for new coffee related products. La Marzocco released their new Linea Mini for the home user – a stripped down and simplified version of the Linea espresso machine with the unrivalled sleek design elements. It would look great in your kitchen or office – so if you have a spare couple of grand then get in touch and we can pre-order you one!
We had the chance to play around on La Cimbali’s M100 HD 2 Group espresso machine. Our top baristas were smashing out coffees with our seasonal espresso whilst catching up with some of our customers and industry friends alike.
Cold brew was a big feature at the festival, with numerous people jumping on the bandwagon. Sandows really knocked our socks off with the nitro cold brew and their cold brew G&T, using our Peruvian El Cedro coffee. Minor Figures also used our cascara to make gelato and coffee grounds for a coffee soap.
Amongst all the bustle of the caffeinated crowd there was the always welcome opportunity to catch up with new and old friends alike; it was a great chance to chew the fat with all things innovation with coffee roasters, baristas, green importers and aficionados that we’ve known for a long time, as well as meet some key players in the agricultural sector and grasp the opportunity to sample some remarkable coffees, teas and coffee blossom infusions on the cupping table.
The highly anticipated Coffee Masters competition was incredibly popular as we watched 20 of the world’s top baristas compete head-to-head for the coveted Coffee Master title and £5,000 prize. James Bailey from Workshop was the winner, but it was great to see such a relevant competition involving all the things we do on a daily basis - cupping, brewing, latte art, completing 10 coffees in 9 minutes and a signature drink. Yuko from Timberyard made it to the Quarterfinals in which she used our Buziraguhindwa #27 from Burundi.
Julia and Nicole attended the ‘Women in Coffee’ Breakfast hosted by Marta from Coffee Bird. A great way to meet other ‘kickass’ coffee ladies all from different areas of the industry. Everyone in attendance had a different background – roasters, café managers, green buyers, business owners and even members from the ICO.
The most important part of the whole festival was, of course, the (un)official after party at Climpson’s Arch. A couple of hundred people turned out for what was dubbed the Coffee Masters After Party. Sang som whisky buckets and pints of Five Points were guzzled to aid in alleviating over-caffeination from the previous four days as DJ Knower played 90s hip hop to a very keen crowd!
From an industry perspective, this year’s festival was the best yet. Better organisation and more space encouraged more interaction. It was apparent that the specialty coffee industry had ‘grown up’ - exhibitors commanded the attention of the masses with interesting and forward thinking exhibits or presentations, fresh crop coffees and an approachable insight into specialty coffee. The representation of specialty coffee offerings was bigger and better than ever – the passion to instigate a change in mentality and encourage people to think about coffee as a specialty product was testament to where the industry is now and heading to.