As a keen coffee drinker (extra hot, soya, flat white if you’re asking), news of the upcoming London Coffee Festival has me buzzing with the intensity of quadruple double shot espressos.
The annual event celebrating the capital’s vibrant coffee scene takes up residence for a coffee-filled week at The Old Truman Brewery in London.
I have always loved coffee. From the days of cutesy Nescafé commercials (Anthony Steward-Head is still a freaking rock star) to present day studying latte art, my coffee journey started when I was a mere babe in arms.
I am very particular about my coffee, which is why I tend to make it myself. I only let trusted baristas make my coffee (BEAR Derby is one such place). I usually find myself waiting in anxious anticipation when I visit a new coffee shop (will they, won’t they, nail the textured milk to my preferred temperature of 70°?).
If you love coffee, then hop on the coffee train and embark on a journey of discovery at The London Coffee Festival, celebrating London’s vibrant coffee scene and its creative subcultures. Rub shoulders with burgeoning start-ups, industry pioneers and long-established companies to a soundtrack of live DJs and musicians. From specialty tastings to industry talks, artisan workshops and showcases from world-class baristas, the party is on.
Now in its eighth year, The London Coffee Festival is Europe’s largest gathering of coffee aficionados, and this year, it’s set to be bigger than ever. Over 250 exhibitors and 35,000 coffee lovers are expected to join the celebration over four days. For the first time, the festival will take over four floors to accommodate the best of the UK specialty coffee movement.
From coffee pros to average Joes, there’s something for everyone with a penchant for coffee, food, music and art. For an around the world coffee flight experience, book in to the La Cimbali sensory bar; a brand new feature showcasing three stand-out coffees, three ways. Offering small artisan roasters and cafes the chance to showcase their high-end craft, La Marzocco’s True Artisan Café returns once more. Experience refined taste as you’re hosted by baristas and roasters at the forefront of the specialty coffee scene.
Dreaming of pouring the perfect glossy rosetta? Or simply head over heels for milky coffee? Good news: Latte Art Live is also back, bringing the world’s top latte art specialists along with it. You’ve seen them on Instagram, and now they are at work right in front of you; expect a series of throw-downs, showcases and hands-on workshops. That and a lot of free coffee.
Every visitor deserves a delicious coffee cocktail, and nothing whips up a party like an espresso martini. The Espresso Martini Party, the festival’s annual knees-up on the Friday night, is a key highlight. Dance and socialise to a live DJ set with a Classic Espresso Martini or Flat White Martini in hand, shaken up by Baileys and Sandows Cold Brew. Can’t make it on Friday? The Espresso Martini Bar is open all festival long, so make a pit-stop for a quality cocktail at any time.
If you want to take a step further and get into the nitty gritty of coffee, there’s plenty of opportunity to learn about the industry, from bean to cup and everything in between. Book into a session at The Lab for an exciting line-up of live interactive demonstrations, workshops, talks and artisan tastings.
The Roastery by Union Hand-Roasted is also set to draw crowds: the small-batch roaster will be live-roasting beans throughout the weekend, discussing the process with inquisitive onlookers.
Crank up your coffee geek setting one more notch and take your seat for Coffee Masters. Returning for the fourth time, this prestigious competition takes coffee to the highest level. The UK’s top 20 baristas will go head-to-head over four days of competition for the coveted title of Coffee Master and a cheque for £5,000. It’s the ultimate test of skill, innovation and creativity and – let’s face it – a real crowd pleaser.
Interested in opening your own cafe? Thursday and Friday at The London Coffee Festival are dedicated industry days, providing a modern take on the traditional coffee trade show mould. With a fresh vision, the industry days will cover all aspects of trade, from the latest equipment innovations to the hottest F&B products. An inspiring selection of speakers, with their finger on the pulse of the ever-evolving coffee industry, will be out in force.
Jeffrey Young, Founder of The London Coffee Festival, says: “After nearly a decade of growth in the London specialty coffee scene, it is exciting to see the continued flurry of innovation and, of course, so many new artisan coffee shop openings throughout London and the rest of the UK each year. London is now recognised as a true centre of excellence for the high quality, craft coffee industry and why The London Coffee Festival attracts thousands of trade visitors and ‘coffee tourists’ from all over the world.”
The London Festival kicks off UK Coffee Week; a national celebration of the UK coffee scene, founded to give back to the communities that make our love for coffee possible. Both the festival and UK Coffee Week support Project Waterfall, a charity initiative where 100% of proceeds go towards providing clean drinking water and sanitation to the world’s coffee growing communities. Last year, over £100,000 was raised at The London Coffee Festival.
Early bird tickets are available online now from £14.50 for adults and £4.50 for children, with strictly limited availability. On the door, prices start from £22.50 for adults and £5.50 for children.
Thursday and Friday sessions are reserved for trade only. On Saturday and Sunday, there are brunch, lunch, teatime and VIP full day sessions. To purchase or for more information, please visit www.londoncoffeefestival.com
YOU JUST CAN’T MISS…
1/ All the coffee
Over 500 free coffees will be on offer, including small batch roasts from pioneering roasters like Caravan, Ozone, Square Mile and Assembly.
2/ The True Artisan Café
Delve into the heart of the specialty coffee movement as La Marzocco invites 36 independent cafes to take over its legendary machines. Each must create a unique signature drink to serve visitors; donations go to Project Waterfall.
3/ Latte Art Live
Phoenix, rosetta or swan? You name it, the latte art legends will pour it. From latte art throw-downs, to workshops and demonstrations, you’ll witness the unimaginable done with coffee, milk and flair.
4/ Espresso Martini Party
The festival kicks off with a bang on Friday night at the annual Espresso Martini party. Baileys and Sandows Cold Brew have joined forces to serve killer coffee cocktails; expect espresso and flat white martinis, a live DJ and dancing.
5/ The Roastery
Brought to the festival by Union Hand-Roasted, The Roastery is an annual top hit for coffee geeks and newbies alike. As they live-roast green beans, the Union team will talk festival-goers through the process; there will also be coffee on hand to taste.
6/ Coffee Masters: 20 Contenders, 7 Disciplines, 1 Winner
In the ultimate test of creativity, skill and innovation, 20 world-class baristas face-off for the prestigious crown of Coffee Master. Over four days, the competitors will go head-to-head in series of knockout rounds; with a grand prize of £5,000, the heat is on.
7/ The Tasting Room
The journey of taste comes into its own with this programme of tasting workshops; here, coffee is served in context, alongside the likes of wine and chocolate. It’s a forward-thinking flavour experience, where you can test and train your palette.
8/ Home brewing workshops
From the grind setting to latte art, brewing the perfect espresso is arguably one of the hardest techniques in coffee. La Marzocco are setting the record straight with their bookable five-minute espresso workshops; all your questions answered.
9/ The Lab
From demonstrations, to workshops and tasting sessions, The Lab is all about innovation, learning and pushing boundaries. The holistic programme covers everything from the history of coffee and cocktails, to home roasting, industry trends and sophisticated artisan craftsmanship.
10/ The Street Food Market
Trust in coffee, but never forget food. London’s best creative food concepts come together to serve up the freshest, most forward-thinking festival food ever. From Arancini Brothers, to Crabbieshack and SpiceBox, the temptation is real.
Address: Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane
Nearest Tubes: Liverpool Street, Aldgate, Aldgate East, Shoreditch High Street, Old Street
About UK Coffee Week: A national celebration of the UK coffee scene founded to give back to the communities that make our love for coffee possible. Project waterfall is an initiative founded, supported and driven by UK Coffee Week that brings clean water to the communities that grow our coffee. www.ukcoffeeweek.com