UK Coffee Week and the London Coffee Festival may be over, but my love for this aromatic brewed drink truly isn’t. I read in The Times recently that the good old cup of tea still rates higher in the UK popularity ranks than the roasted bean relative. In fact, we Brits drink 166 million cups of tea every day compared to 70 million cups of coffee.
Personally, I can’t start the day without my good old cup of Tetleys, but without my daily 11 o’clock latte my day just isn’t the same.
I have a daily battle with the high street coffee giants who take a hold of me with the aromas of ground coffee beans that waft down the street, enticing me in for a latte.
And there’s nothing like the smell of home brewed coffee in your own kitchen (instant coffee’s a big no-no!). That daily caffeine kick is just something I won’t be giving up for now. So when I heard about the London Coffee Festival in the Old Truman Brewery, I hot footed it to Brick Lane in a bid to investigate for Oh So London.
On arrival, there were people queuing down the street. But a few minutes later, we were in the midst of a coffee-lover’s heaven. With so many coffee stands we didn’t know where to start.
The set up was basically a series of coffee companies offering samples, coffee making equipment and all sorts of confectionary and food stands.
Oh and they didn’t completely leave out the UK’s favourite type of brew. They did make room for a few tea companies.
The Coffee Festival was split up into three London areas: Hyde Park, Soho and Shoreditch, plus a final showroom.
My favourite bits of the Hyde Park section were the ‘outdoor’ bar and ‘Chocolate Factory’. The bar was surrounded by fake grass and bar stools where people sipped on the best coffee based cocktail ever invented – the espresso martini. As for the Chocolate Factory, it was a series of chocolate tasting stands by the likes of Green & Blacks, Lindt, and other chocolate and fudge making companies. I literally had to be dragged away from the plate of white chocolate Green & Blacks. (The Milky Bar loving child is still in me.)
Starbucks very kindly gave out vouchers to try their new Origin Espresso Range and had a cool photo booth where you could don yourself in straw hat and coffee bean sack ‘props’, pretending we were working on a coffee plantation. Yes, it was a bit cringe, but in the name of fun, I dragged my other half in and we posed for the photographer. They then emailed us the photo where we’d been superimposed onto a mountain. That’s one thing I won’t be sharing with you readers…
Starbucks also had an artist who was offering caricature drawings onto Starbucks mugs – a nice quirky idea (and very good marketing!), I thought.
After a chat with a lady from Mokarabia Coffee – an Italian based coffee company – I learned Mokarabia had been running since the 1950s. She promptly made me a Mokarabia latte and I have to say, it was beautifully smooth.
After perusing some very stylish Lavazza coffee machines, we headed to The Street Food Market which was brilliant. An array of stalls offered all sorts of street food – we had a coriander chicken naan from rola wala and a (free range) pulled pork ciabatta from Roast Hog. Both were absolutely delish. There were also German Sausages, waffles and doner kebabs. What can I say, the place was buzzing.
There’s just too much to talk about from the London Coffee Festival so I’ll finish off with the best bits. After watching semi finalist coffee barista Dan Fellows wow the judges with his Ethiopian coffee blend and flair coffee-making skills, we got in the mix of the Soho zone.
Here, at the ‘Nude Espresso’ stand we chuckled as we watched DJs breaking into some serious dance moves as they rocked out some beats. Meanwhile we sipped on one of ‘Nude Espresso’ cocktails called ‘Icarus’ – a pungent mix of Havana Club rum, sherry, sugar syrup, Tanzania Utengule coffee beans and grapefruit juice.
All I can say is wow. The heady mix of the cocktails, the buzzy atmosphere and the altogether exciting east London vibe of this place was so much more than I expected from a coffee festival.
What can I say, I left the London Coffee Festival feeling very buzzy…. I guess that happens when you drink a few too many lattes.
Lavazza Coffee who showcased at the London Coffee Festival very kindly supplied Oh So London with tickets to the event. If you want to check it out for yourself next year, go to LondonCoffeeFestival.com. Check out Lavazza Italian coffee at www.Lavazza.com
Until next time x