Exploring Barista Lifestyle and Coffee Culture at London Coffee Festival
Six years ago London Coffee Festival was born, and today it's THE event to explore coffee culture, breathe barista lifestyle and find new trends. At the festival, you get to meet enthusiast roasters, product manufactures, baristas, and other industry professionals. It is so inspiring to see and feel their love and knowledge of this amazing beverage called coffee.
Last year I travelled to London Coffee festival for the first time and fell in love: atmosphere differs from other food and coffee fairs. I think the name “festival” really is a spot on. This year the festival took again place at the Old Truman Brewery in the beginning of April. The first two days (Thursday & Friday) were industry days and next two (Saturday & Sunday) consumer days. We were there on Friday and on Saturday.
On Friday the amount of visitors was just perfect, not too many J People were hanging around in the festival area, both inside and outside. We were lucky to have perfect weather during our visit: clear blue sky, sun was shining all day long and it was about 20 degrees warm!
Friday was a good day for just going from one stand to another and have interesting discussions with other coffee enthusiasts. You could easily talk to baristas and roasters at their stands without any rush. On Saturday the situation was totally different: there were so many visitors and the Truman Brewery was packed with people. So here is the first tip for you: go to London Coffee Festival on industry days if possible! You get much more out of it!
Oh, and my colleague took a video of the queuing people on Saturday! Check it out…and you understand why I recommend to participate on industry days J
Currently hot in coffee
One reason to visit these festivals is to find out what is currently hot in coffee. As you probably know, single origin coffees have been the thing for a while now. So that's not the new thing here for sure, but instead it was interesting to find out which countries are currently hip and pop. This year Burundi, Rwanda, Ethiopia and El Salvador were the most seen origin countries in the festival and in cafés we visited. Other hot topic seemed to be colourful latte art. To be honest, I'm not sure how used that sort of art is in cafés, but at the festival it certainly was really popular.
We at Paulig Barista Institute did one colorful Flat White in honour to Finland's centenary celebration (this year!) That delicious and beautiful beverage you can buy from Paulig Kulma, located at the city centre of Helsinki. Check the picture below!
Cold Brew Coffee is still popular
Cold brew coffee in a tap, cold brew coffee in cans, cold brew coffee in bottles, Nitro cold brew coffee… Many ways of serving and selling cold brew coffee. And this does not surprise me at all. Cold brew coffee is tasty as it is but if you want to make cold coffee drinks, then cold brew coffee is definitely the way to go. I hope that cafés in Finland would boldly take cold brew coffee to their coffee menus. It is such a multipurpose beverage, and on top of all, very easy to make! Read our article, if you want to learn how to make cold brew coffee.
All the coffee packages look the same (but pretty)
One funny observation was that most of the coffee packages actually looks the same. Plain white or neutral (non-colored brown paper bag) with “long neck”. Separate colorful cardboard with the name of the roastery, coffee taste profile etc. Also the “long neck” were folded under the cardboard. We asked the reason for this way of packaging and the answer was that it´s handy when placing these packages to a shelf in a café or grocery store, it stays up and looks good. The cardboard keeps it straight, and consumer sees easily what the label says. Good enough reason, I say.
Other than coffee
There were also many other beverages besides coffee. We saw lots of different Matcha powders also in different colours: red matcha and yellow matcha. Red Matcha can be done e.g. mixing Japanese Matcha green tea and cranberry powder. Red Matcha is also often made of Rooibos and then it's naturally caffeine-free, unlike original Matcha – Japanese green tea.
The best or most memorable exhibition stands
Festival was full of interesting companies showing their best products and concepts. Few of them managed to stand out from others. Starbucks had a huge stand this year – or should I say area rather than a stand. They introduced only cold brew coffee, but in many ways. I think it was a bold move and very educational for consumers. Also their exhibition stand visuals were really fresh and updated.
Tate & Lyle had the same concept than last year: multisensory experience. Tate & Lyle makes flavored syrups and at their stand you didn't just taste different syrups but you got to eat, drink, smell and listen… How? You started your multisensory experience by putting on headphones (with just some relaxing music), then you ate a piece of fudge, drank some warm milk-based coffee drink with the chosen syrup and finally you had to stick your nose into this glass object full of steam that smelled like the syrup you just drank. Memorable for sure!
After two days of intensive coffee talking and drinking, it was time to head back home. Once again it was cool to notice that coffee culture is constantly evolving. The appreciation for the whole chain, from the farmer to the barista who pours your perfect cup, just got deeper again.
And hey, next year's dates have been agreed already: 12 - 15 April 2018.
Check out the website here: londoncoffeefestival.com