Coffee Trends & Vibes: London Coffee Festival 2018
London Coffee Festival 2018 gathered over 30 000 coffee geeks together to see, feel and taste what is going on in UK's coffee scene. The annual event has become a must-go event for the coffee professionals in Europe. London Coffee Festival is the place to spot the latest coffee trends and sense the vibes in the specialty coffee industry.
I visited London Coffee Festival last time in 2016 and it seems that LCF is becoming bigger and better every year. It sure is a must-go event for coffee professionals; in London Coffee Festival one can see all the important coffee (and beyond) companies and their services and products under one roof. The event is not a typical trade show but more what the name tells - a festival that celebrates coffee. And it IS like a music festival, coffee being a music, and the brands being the bands playing in the festival (Some of them playing off key and some creating experiences that give chills - in a good way!). And of course coffee geeks being the crazy festival crowd that goes nuts about coffee.
For a coffee professional, London Coffee Festival is a perfect place to network with the coffee community, spot coffee trends and sense the vibes in the coffee industry in general. The event is an experience itself: in London coffee is so cool & trendy it is almost overwhelming! If you're not afraid of crowds (some of the festival aisles are tight) and noise (the coffee crowd apparently is also very loud), make sure to pack up your Keep-cup and head up to London next year.
Sustainable, natural, ecological, organic...
If I should mention the biggest theme or trend from the festival, I would definitely mention sustainability. The communication around the topic was very visible and the brands used terms like natural, ecological, organic, recycled and what not to highlight their ecological values. Some brands had taken very concrete approach to the topic by building their festival stands from recycled materials.
Cold (coffee) drinks
Couple of years ago cold brew was the "hot" topic in London Coffee Festival, this year cold brew had taken a huge step forward. The festival was full of ready-to-drink products, most of them in cans, with or without cold brew. These new products were fun and innovative; coffee was combined with flavors like rhubarb and citrus fruits, the packaging were quirky and colorful. This new category definitely is adding a spark (or even flame) to coffee!
Brands as a lifestyle
The most inspiring and interesting coffee brands in the festival had created the whole lifestyle around their brand. It was clear that the product was not enough, there had to be more about it to catch the interest of the coffee enthusiast. Some of the brands had their own fashion lines with t-shirt and caps, some had wall art made out of their package design, some branded vegan milks etc. I have to admit that these lifestyle brands really caught my attention, I went a little crazy shopping t-shirt at Department of Brewelogy stand and buying stickers and mugs at Girls Who Grind Coffee stand.
One trend that affects coffee industry and baristas' daily work is "post milk generation" (like Oatly puts it). Vegan milks are huge and there were so many different plant-based milk alternatives present in London Coffee Festival. Oat, almond and soy are already "basic" but have you heard about Tiger Nut? The biggest Oat Drink believers wear an OAT BEANIE! (honestly, WHAT???)
By the way, Jori wrote an excellent blog about Plant based milks, from a barista's perspective - have a look!
Coffee = Community
For me coffee is the community that it creates. I could be sipping my coffee alone but it is so much more fun when done with people who are equally passionate about it! London Coffee Festival sure is the place to be if you want to geek around coffee but besides that the event also showcases that these days coffee is fun and laid-back - gone are the days when specialty coffee had snobbish vibe around it.
Lastly - what was the best coffee that I tasted? It was Panama Finca Lerida, natural Geisha that tasted like green apple, jasmine flower and tea rose. It was roasted by Bailies Coffee Roasters. Honestly, this is why I lovelovelove my job - there's always new coffee to taste, new barista to meet or new thing to learn.