London Coffee Festival 2018 - Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane

 

 

This festival has become one of the highlights of the year for the coffee / cafe business. It’s a combination of drink trends mixed with a little vertical integration. It seems serving drinks isn’t sufficient any more. For the best customer experience you need to be roasting your own coffee. Very millennial! And that is what is so great about this event the number of young people getting involved. It’s a sure sign that this business is thriving.

So where to start? For me it’s always good to be reminded as to where our core product is coming from. Green coffee importers DR Wakefield ran a series of tastings throughout the event. I took part in a tasting of Ethiopian coffees some of which had been processed using different methods, washed and naturals. Side by side you really get a sense of the impact on the cup profile and I think we’ll be talking a lot more about this over the next couple of years. The best Ethiopians for me though are always full of fruit. I wasn’t disappointed.

As usual there are a whole host of espresso machine manufacturers trying to “out-cool” each other. The most insane model this year has got to come from La Marzocco. Their retro lever machine is a man’s man man man man machine. Testosterone personified if you like that kind of thing, or maybe you’d just rather a decent cup of coffee?  

Another area of the market that seems to have exploded in recent times are coffee bag designs. 20 years ago a brown kraft bag looked like you were trying to save money, today it’s totally hip. Pouches, quad seals, block bottom, re-sealable and front label pouches are just a few of a myriad of bags all trying to out hip each other and with a price tag to match. That artisanal look is all the rage and really differentiates the global from the local players.

As always there’s the various coffee competitions or coffee masters as certain Baristas have now become. The hype is tremendous but it’s nice to walk away to a quieter part of the show to hear yourself think. The Latte art stand is always packed. There was a great line from one of the presenters who when checking on the level of skill within the audience….and how many of you are wondering what is latte art!? A gentle reminder of how relatively new this very niche business still is.

High end tea has been making a bit of a comeback in recent years. The development of the pyramid tea bag has seen a whole raft of new entrants. It’s trebled the price of the ubiquitous tea bag but the consumer has seemingly accepted the cost to quality ratio.

Finally a new blender innovation will see a host of new summer drinks appearing in your favourite coffee shop this summer. The ability to create cold micro foam quickly and easily has until now not been possible in a fast moving environment. That’s about to change and the company Beyond the Bean is backing it up with a whole host of fruit, spice and savoury products. The only limit will be the drink creator’s imagination.

So there you have it a fun event in a fun industry the challenge as always though is to make it all work in your own environment. Eyes down!