Coffee lovers reunited over the Bank Holiday for the hugely popular London Coffee Festival. And I was one of those who made a dash to the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane for some serious caffeination.
I was feeling a bit off on Sunday, due to a long old day on Saturday cheering on my other half at the Tough Mudder event in Henley (it’s hard work being a spectator, y’know). But I soon perked up when within minutes, I was presented with my first cup of java by the lovely people at the Illy stand in the Hyde Park zone.
Here are some of Sunday’s highlights:
Tasting the Illy triple espresso
The Illy triple espresso might sound a bit like rocket fuel to most, but as the team explained to me on Sunday, it’s not! The speed at which the water passes through the ground coffee beans is higher than average, so it produces enhanced flavour without the rocketing caffeine levels. The end product is high in coffee oils and is ever so fruity with a long, lingering flavour on the tongue. Illy has always been one of my favourite coffee brands as it’s always so smooth to drink. Find out more about the Illy range here and you’ll always find they have a good presence at the London Coffee Festival.
Eating epic street food
You can always count on the London Coffee Festival to showcase some of London’s greatest street food vendors. And this year’s foodie offerings didn’t disappoint. Through the White Label Kitchen concept, the festival created a collaboration of all sorts of street food and beverage champs including Herman Ze German, And Union, Arancini Brothers and St.JOHN.
It was hard to pick from such a high calibre of mouth-watering festival menus, but for me, the Arancini Brothers excelled. I was in need of some serious energy and a bit of a health boost, so their superfood salad was a hit. It was filled with raw vegetables yet still had a portion of those delicious risotto balls they’re so famous for, with a dollop of spicy tomato sauce for a kick of flavour.
Discovering the ‘devilish’ Bad Brownie
As you nosey your way around the food and coffee stalls at the London Coffee Festival, you’ll notice there’s a very good selection of sweet treats, from the fabulous Green & Black stands to delicious homemade baked goods such as the Cakesmiths.
The winner for me though was the discovery of Bad Brownie, the most decadent, gooey and incredibly naughty chocolate brownies I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting. They do all sorts of flavours, from mint fondant and peanut butter to maple syrup and bacon (yes really). I delved into a Salted Caramel brownie which was voted Best Chocolate Brownie 2014 by The Chocolate Festival last year. I also took a Ginger Crunch home with me. They’re so damn good I’m surprised I even managed to get it out the door without devouring the whole lot to be honest. And of course they taste so good with a good coffee.
Check out Bad Brownie’s website here. As you can imagine, they’re also instagram sensations.. @badbrownieco
Enjoying The London Coffee Festival ‘buzz’
I’m not just talking about the caffeine buzz (although that is good), visiting The London Coffee Festival is also, all about the buzz you get from the brilliant atmosphere here. At this year’s event, there were musical performances from a whole range of acts including London/Jamaican group The Big Steal, DJ Dee Scott and South American group Lokandes, to name but a few.
Many of the acts perform by the main stage where this photo was taken, in the Hyde Park zone. I love this section as it’s really open and filled with people, quirky trees and fake grass, and a whole bunch of people sipping espresso martinis and enjoying the good life. You must check it out if you’re about next year!
Celebrating just how far Specialty Coffee brewing has come
The specialty coffee industry just gets better and better each year and where better to showcase it than the London Coffee Festival? This year saw stands by Island Roasted, Square Mile, Matthew Algie, Alchemy, Bewley’s, Black Sheep, Ozone, and The Roasting Party to name a few.
I particularly enjoyed dropping the Square Mile stand to do a bit of sampling and chat to the expert baristas. First I tried the Red Brick blend which is deliciously smooth and something I could drink every day…
…I then tried the rather ‘tooty fruity’ like Sweet Shop blend, which as you can guess, was really like ‘eating’ all your favourite sweets in one go.
Towards the end of the day I also stopped to try some of the famous Marley Coffee which comes from the Marley family in Jamaica. I’ve read a lot about the coffee industry in Jamaica and I love to see that family-run businesses which boost local economies are getting the chance to succeed in an extremely competitive industry.
One of the most popular coffee trends right now is the ‘cold brew’ and alongside cascara tea (made from the skin and pulp of coffee cherries) it’s something we’re hearing about more and more.
One of the most popular brands is Sandows Cold Brew which is triple filtered and has a ‘smooth, sweet and refreshing flavour’. And is only costs around £3.50 to buy. This is a picture I snapped at the Sandows stand at the London Winter Run, but they also featured at The London Coffee Festival at the weekend. I know what I’ll be drinking this summer….
Discovering new gadgets and paraphernalia
If coffee paraphernalia gets you all excited, The London Coffee Festival is your calling. From coffee-making equipment and filter machines to reusable cups and hi-tech aeropresses and V60s, you can spend an awful lot of time deliberating on what you want to buy (because you’ll want to buy everything). I particularly liked these pretty little Keep Cups, the reusable mugs for coffee lovers on the go. #Salutethereuser.
The demos of the Cafflano, all-in-one coffee maker was brilliant too.
Celebrating Cocktail Hour with David Jameson
Coffee cocktails are huge. But they’re not a brand new phenomenon as you’ll know. The good old Irish whiskey dates back to the 1940s when chef Joe Sheridan was serving drinks to some VIP customers who’d just stepped off a Pan Am flight from America. At his restaurant in Foynes, an airbase, near Limerick, Sheridan was asked to create the passengers something that would ‘warm them up’. The result was the Irish Coffee.
As for the espresso martini – which was being enjoyed by many at this year’s Coffee Festival – that came a little later. It was in the late 80s when bartender Dick Bradsell was serving a young American model. She asked for a drink that ‘wakes me up and then f**ks me up’. The result was the espresso martini.
The reason I know this, is I attended Sunday’s The Rise of the Coffee Cocktail – a talk in The Coffee Festival ‘Lab’, with coffee cocktail expert David Jameson.
David was the 2014 UK Coffee in Good Spirits champion so is clued up in the coffee cocktail world. At the London Coffee Festival, he was working with Union Roasters and explained how mixing coffee and alcohol has become an art. As the specialty coffee industry has become so sophisticated, the way in which it is paired with specific artisan spirits based on tasting notes, is too, becoming something of an art.
We got to sample one of David’s favourite Irish coffee recipes which blended a panama coffee with a Scottish Dalmore whisky and the amaretto-based Disarrono, an Italian liqueur. The result was a drink that was rich in stewed fruits and cherry notes with a good dollop of cream on top. It was a fantastic way to end my visit to this year’s London Coffee Festival and has given me some ideas to try at home myself. For more interesting cocktail recipes head to David’s website DavidJameson.coffee and follow him on instagram @DavidJamesonUK.
Of course there is so much more you can see at the London Coffee Festival and one day never seems enough. I’m certainly going to go over two days next year if I can and check out more of the baristas competitions, stalls and more talks on one of my favourite pastimes, drinking coffee.
And that’s it for another year. Happy coffee drinking.
Until next time x
Oh So London was provided with tickets for The London Coffee Festival and attended on Sunday 3rd May, 2015. All views are my own. For more information on this annual festival, head over to their website LondonCoffeeFestival.com. If you went to the festival, leave your comments below, and if not, hope to see you next year!
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