London Coffee Festival 2015: everything you need to know
If there is one beverage that is popular and versatile enough to warrant its own festival, it is undoubtedly coffee. It is consumed so widely and heartily that a concentrated hub of coffee-related activity is bound to excite many. Now in its fifth edition, the London Coffee Festival returns to treat visitors to a vast array of samples, guides, advice sessions and workshops that make it impossible to leave without having gained a deeper knowledge of coffee and a resolution to make thoughtful and informed decisions about one’s coffee-drinking habits thenceforward.
Among the highlights of the festival is the much-anticipated Coffee Masters competition. The organisers’ ambitious feat of grouping 16 of the best baristas from around the world, based on their talent and personality, not only makes for great entertainment, but it’s also an informative demonstration showcasing the contenders’ outstanding skills. Tested in various disciplines in one-on-one timed battles, the baristas showcase their impressive amount of initial research, from studying plants and experimenting with ingredients, to procuring spring water to create the perfect infusion. The contest is a unique opportunity to see coffee-making in its most artistic form and verify the lengths that top baristas go to for an innovative blend.
One of the more practical and useful features at the festival can be found at the Make Decent Coffee Lounge, where specialist barista Sean Pittaway and his team demonstrate the use of different machines to show that one can re-create a coffee worthy of the professionals at home, using fairly inexpensive equipment. They explain how each brewing method brings out different flavours of a blend, giving attendees the opportunity to taste different brews of the same blend. It is fascinating to find that changing the preparation and tools can highlight particular notes of a coffee, making it sweeter, spicier or fruitier. It can also give it a completely different texture by retaining the oils or filtering them, thus making it smoother or fuller-bodied.
For more inspiration, visitors can check out the True Artisan Café area, where original concoctions are created reflecting the latest trends in the constantly evolving coffee scene. The main focus here is the meeting between tradition and innovation. It is possible to try a number of coffee-based cocktails, enhanced by the DJ creating a party atmosphere, but one can also take a step back in the coffee-making process and watch a demonstration of the roasting procedure.
A skilled roaster takes the crowd through the coffee beans’ journey from green to rich brown, which takes around 15 to 20 minutes in the traditional roasting machine and is strictly reliant on the operator’s accurate decision-making. His experience allows him to distinguish every point of the process and the specific taste it corresponds to. He takes pride in the fact that technology plays no part in this method, instead, it is a matter of using the senses to recognise the several stages of the chemical reaction that transforms the beans.
After learning the secrets of roasting, visitors can test their palates by taking a coffee-tasting challenge, where they must take sips from three different cups and recognise the odd one out. Besides the entertainment and games, the London Coffee Festival also offers a great chance to learn about relevant business opportunities, barista careers, coffee shop designs and the latest technologies and news about the industry. The festival gathers small businesses and world-famous brands and they all contribute to the buzzing atmosphere that is no doubt enhanced by the effect of the caffeine.
The event is a reminder that coffee can be linked to some of the most significant aspects of society; it brings people together and provides them with a simple yet necessary pretext for bonding. Additionally, coffee is related to tradition, farming, trading, hospitality but also creativity and craftsmanship.
Simply, the London Coffee Festival encompasses much more than facts and offers more than mere products. It’s an celebration that recognises coffee as an important player in everyday life, for this reason, every coffee lover is encouraged to attend it so as to become an educated consumer and a conscientious appreciator of coffee.
Photos: Davis Pappalardo
The London Coffee Festival 2015 will end on Sunday 3rd May, for further information visit here.