Next week is perhaps the UK's biggest yearly event on the speciality coffee calendar, The London Coffee Festival. Four days of caffeine fuelled fun amongst some of the best of what's happening in the coffee scene right now. New product launches, flavour explorations, roasting demonstration, incredible latte art performances. Music, dancing, drinking, competitions,.. the list goes on.. and that's just the Thursday am session !
I've been for one day in the previous 4 years as a visitor, taking in the circus, speaking to interesting folk, tasting amazing coffee, beer, cocktails etc and witnessing the growth of this niche industry. Two years ago I remember speaking to Bradley from Ikawa the Kickstarter funded pro level sample roaster. He was taking names and orders on a minimal 1m stand on a busy walkthrough between the main zones. He was wasted and that was only the first day. You may know what a success that business has become with sales worldwide and a product that's become the defacto sample roaster. Likewise, I remember speaking to WIll Corby (aka The Caffeine Kid), who had just started with Pact Coffee, whilst he was brewing up in the True Artisan Cafe alongside Dave Faulkner from Extract coffee who was working the mixing deck. These are incredibly talented people who I looked up to as the coffee gods, and still do. They and many others have been the drivers behind this speciality wave, sharing their knowledge to anyone interested. ie. me.
Four years ago I took these coffee bags along !
My first 'public' showing of my coffee as part of the UK Coffee Week stand. As it turned out the Petrroncini wasn't operational in time so I had to roast all this on my little Gene Cafe home roaster.. Shhhh.
The following year I helped my good friend WIll Little launch his new roasting business Roastworks Coffee in a small 4 hr slot on the DRWakefield stand near the entrance. I remember we brewed a washed Oromia coop coffee on a La Marzocco Linea MP which I'd never used before. The MP was brewing at some ridiculously low pressure and I remember having to go over to one of the LM techs and asking him to take a look. He asked me if I'd adjusted the pump pressure at all ?? what ?? you can actually do that ?? Fortunately times have changed and I've learned some useful lessons along the way. The highlight then was meeting the Oromia coop manager who was pretty much responsible for establishing trading relationships to allow smallholder farmers in the region get their coffees out into the speciality world. ie a legend.
This year I'm going to be part of the show. I've taken a stand at the La Marzocco sponsored Roasters Village downstairs at LCF South alongside the Coffee Masters arena and tasting area. I'm as nervous as a little kitten but equally excited to be amongst all these clever and passionate coffee folk. Some I know and I'm looking forward to catching up with over a beverage. Others I don't but am keen to meet in person rather than by the so impersonal virtual voyeurism.
My brand style has changed a little since those bags and for that I've got to thank Andy at BirdonaBox for keeping it fresh.
I'll be brewing four different coffees over the four days, both as Espresso on a cute little Linea Mini as well as some manual brewing. I couldn't do this alone and luckily a friend has offered to help. Tony is the head barista at Exeters Exploding Bakery which holds the title as the first place to serve speciality coffee in Exeter and still sits up there as one of the best the town has to offer.
Someone described it like being locked inside a packed nightclub playing non-stop house music with way too many stimulants. Then heading outside to realise it was still daylight.
It'll be tiring, exhilarating, educational fun. Come along and join the ride.
For my regular retail customers there may be a delay in processing your order if placed between Wednesday 5th and Monday 10th April. My little helpers might be able to get it done but if not I apologies in advance and assure you you'll receive my full albeit exhausted attention on my return. Promise.