Popular wisdom says that London is in the midst of a coffee revival, with boutique roasters and coffee shops popping up all over the capital to bring their own twist to your afternoon flat white. Much of that boom has, inevitably, taken place in the east, so it wasn’t too surprising to find the London Coffee Festival settled in at Brick Lane’s Old Truman Brewery last weekend.
Part trade show, part consumer coffee celebration, the four day festival was a celebration of all things caffeinated. From the latest coffee blends to industrial espresso machines, the whole spectrum of the coffee world was represented. Beyond that, there were plenty of coffee-adjacent businesses to be found. The large number of tea stalls is perhaps unsurprising, but it’s less clear why there were at least three separate popcorn companies in attendance. Leaving coffee even further behind, the ‘Milk and Sugar’ area ranged from wet shaves to designer aprons, though felt rather detached from the rest of the show.
If one were to try and read the industry’s trends from the festival’s stalls, it looks like 2015 is set to be the year of the cold press. Not only were countless start-ups on hand to offer a variety of pre-bottled variants on slow-brewed cold coffee, but even the monolithic Starbucks put cold coffee centre stage at its enormous booth.
Two of the more interesting appearances at the festival proved that even something as low-tech as coffee is not immune to the power of the app store. Drip offers a pre-paid monthly coffee plan for some of London’s finest independent coffee shops – sort of like a mobile phone contract if instead of wanting to stay in touch with people you just want to neck americanos. If it works, it’ll save you from ever worrying about having enough change for that extra shot of espressos, though the rather petite list of participating coffee shops is the big limiting factor right now.
If you’d rather get your fix at home, the Ikawa coffee roaster might hold more appeal. Currently inches away from full funding on Kickstarter, this gadget links up to a smartphone app that lets you download, customise and share roasting recipes for different beans, giving you full control of the roast from start to finish. All that tech does come at a price – namely £750 – but Kickstarter backers can still pick up some of the first release for the comparatively low, low price of £500.
London Coffee Festival has plenty to offer those looking to expand their caffeinated horizons, taking in new techniques, coffee varieties and the chance to pick up any and all of the coffee gear you might ever want. On a simpler level, for those simply looking to drink an awful lot of free coffee over a short period of time, it’s hard to imagine a much more efficient way to do it. Whether it’s from excitement over that high-tech Japanese grinder you just bought or the rapid onset of a caffeine overdose, you’ll be left buzzing.
Top image by James Bryant. Others by Kay Lockett.