The London Coffee Festival 2017: A guide for the coffee curious
Once again, the Old Truman Brewery hosts the biggest coffee event of the year attracting thousands of coffee addicts and coffee-curious visitors, as well as the top names in the industry. Interest in the festival is growing every year as cross-overs with other fields are explored and the speciality coffee movement continues to strive for innovation. The latest technologies and newest concoctions can all be seen under one roof as the masters of the field come together with the aim of offering the best drinking experience of the beloved beverage and everything that surrounds it.
Divided into themed areas, the London Coffee Festival caters for all tastes and all levels of coffee knowledge. 2017 sees a rise in new names from across the UK and beyond, as well as bigger, bolder ventures by the long-established companies. Aside from browsing through a great variety of stands to sample and to purchase drinks, food and coffee equipment, visitors can get fully involved with a range of interactive workshops and a number of interesting debates at The Lab.
This year more than ever, the festival recognises the speciality movement on a larger scale by showing an awareness of the parallel development of quality-focussed companies in the tea, chocolate and beer industries. This can be further explored in The Tasting Room, where coffee is used as a starting point to draw attention to, and practice, the skill of recognising flavours and describing them. There are dedicated sessions, in fact, for the exploration of food and coffee pairings. A pop-up restaurant run by Grind embraces the exciting trend of incorporating great coffee into a meal. They offer a three-course menu focussed on unexpected but complementary tastes.
Aside from daily masterclasses for tea lovers and a fine selection of herbal blends, the chocolate offering at the festival deserves a mention as it is truly tantalising. Renowned chocolatiers Hotel Chocolat boast the largest stand and for good reason: they offer an enticing variety of hot chocolates (the chilli flavoured one is a must-try), as well as their own ice creams. The company is also launching Teolat, a cold infusion made from cocoa shells that comes in different flavours and is the first of its kind. Another name to look out for is Cocoa Runners, a young company that travels around the world to find the highest quality artisan chocolate bars and then selects the very best ones to put on their site.
One of the hottest trends this past year has been cold brews. The drink to look out for now is the Nitro cold brew, a coffee infused with nitrogen gas that has a wonderful silky smooth, stout-like texture and a frothy top. Pulled straight from the tap, the drink has been circulating the coffee scene for some time and has rapidly gained popularity. Now it’s ready to go mainstream and is set to make waves around coffee shops as well as bars and supermarkets Starbucks have dedicated their entire stand to the promotion of their version of this drink, but it’s worth checking out the Sandows team, who use great quality coffee and bottle their brew by hand.
Festival-goers can also catch the Coffee Masters competition, the staple feature that sees 20 baristas challenge one another in seven different disciplines over the four days of the festival. For further inspiration, there is also the new Latte Art Live feature, a chance to meet the champions of this creative discipline and see some of the most impressive masterpieces in a cup. There are also many musical performances to keep up the funky vibes and, since coffee giants LaMarzocco are celebrating 90 years of business, there is an added wave of cheer and even more special events than usual.
Perhaps the only downside of the London Coffee Festival is that there is too much going on to be able to see, learn and taste everything, but visitors are guaranteed to leave the event with some new and exciting information, a delicious product, or simply a great feeling of excitement about the coffee scene. While there is a huge offering, coffee is the indisputable protagonist of the festival and it gets all the attention it deserves.
Photos: Daniel Donovan
The London Coffee Festival 2017 is at the Old Truman Brewery from 6th until 9th April, for further information or to book tickets visit here.