London Coffee Festival 2017: Preview

The 2017 London Coffee Festival LogoIt’s London Coffee Festival time again! Yes, that’s right, three weeks from now, the London Coffee Festival will be in full swing, once again gracing the Old Truman Brewery in Brick Lane from Thursday, 6th April to Sunday, 9th April.

If this is your first London Coffee Festival, take a look at my round up of last year’s festival. Alternatively, if you’ve been before, it’s all very familiar, with industry days on Thursday/Friday and three three-hour consumer sessions on Saturday/Sunday (Brunch, Lunch and Teatime). In a change from previous years, there’s an extended consumer session on Friday evening from four o’clock in the afternoon to 10 o’clock in the evening. This includes access to the Espresso Martini Launch Party (8 o’clock onwards) and is probably the best-value ticket in the whole event.

Talking of tickets, my usual advice applies: get your ticket now. For starters, you get a significant discount on the on-the-door price. What’s more, tickets are already selling fast! Leave it to the day of the festival and it could easily be sold out. Also, if you are attending the Industry Days, be aware that these are no longer free, so once again, it pays to book ahead.

Continue reading

Manchester Coffee Festival 2016 Part III

A flat white from Carvetii in my Therma Cup at the Manchester Coffee Festival, 2016.Welcome to the third and final part of my round up of this year’s Manchester Coffee Festival. In Part I, I took a look at the venue itself, and also my favourite coffee competition, the UK Cup Tasters’ Championship, won this year by Freda Yuan from Caravan. Then, in Part II, I focused on all the coffee roasters who were there in force this year. Today I’m going to finish things off with a look at the non-coffee stuff (equipment, reusable cups, milk, cake, tea…), although there’s also one coffee-related item that got missed out last week… Oops.

I had a chance to look at the Conti 60th Anniversary espresso machine which I’d first seen at World of Coffee in Dublin earlier this year, plus there was a chance to catch up with some reusable cup manufacturers. As usual, there was lots of food at the Manchester Coffee Festival, including three street food stalls, a bakery, and my friends from Cakesmiths (which now has its own café, Bakesmiths). Then there was milk and I even had a look at some tea, before rounding things off with a coffee cupping…

Continue reading

Manchester Coffee Festival 2016 Part II – Meet the Roasters

A flat white in my Therma Cup in front of the Carvetii logo at this year's Manchester Coffee Festival.Welcome to Part II of my round up of this year’s Manchester Coffee Festival (the festival previously known as Cup North). In Part I, I took a look at the venue itself, and also my favourite coffee competition, the UK Cup Tasters’ Championship, won this year by Freda Yuan from Caravan. This time I want to focus on the coffee, looking at the various roasters who were there in force this year. I’ll finish things off in Part III with a look at the non-coffee related material (equipment, reusable cups, milk, cake, tea…)

I tried to focus on people I don’t often get to see, so while I stopped by to say hello to the likes of Origin (which I’ve written about three times this year) and my friends at Allpress, I didn’t linger too long. I also ran into Glasgow’s Avenue Coffee and Dear Green Coffee who were visiting but not exhibiting. Talking of Scotland, I failed utterly to visit Artisan Roast, which had come all the way down from Edinburgh. And Union Hand-roasted, although at least I caught up with Union at the London Coffee Festival this year, so I don’t feel too bad.

Continue reading

Manchester Coffee Festival 2016 Part I

thumbnail-manchester-coffee-festival-2016-part-i-dsc_0004Last weekend saw my annual visit to Manchester for the Manchester Coffee Festival. If anyone is confused, this is what was, for the past two years, Cup North. It’s been interesting to watch the evolution of the festival. In its first year, Cup North was my favourite coffee festival, small, friendly and intimate. Last year, it had taken things up a notch, with a new venue, the Victoria Warehouse, and a significant increase in size. This year, it’s gone one better, all while retaining its friendly, relaxed nature, particularly when compared to London Coffee Festival.

All the usual suspects were there, with the roasters out in force, backed up by some equipment manufacturers and coffee kit suppliers. There were various food-related stands, including cake, bread and milk. Everything you need, really. Popping outside, there was also a range of street food in case you got too hungry. Making a triumphant return from last year was my favourite coffee competitor, the UK Cup Tasters’ Championship, while Tamper Tantrum was back with a series of talks. As usual, over the two days, I saw almost everyone I wanted to, but there’s quite never enough time to get around all the stands!

Continue reading

Manchester Coffee Festival 2016 Preview

A stylised outline of a white cup on a black background with letters cupnorth written above it (also in white).In two weeks’ time (Saturday/Sunday, 5th/6th November), Cup North will return, although this year it’s re-branded itself the Manchester Coffee Festival. Once again gracing the halls of the Victoria Warehouse in Stretford, where last year it spread itself out over a rabbit warren of interconnected spaces, you’re in for a real treat.

I’ve watched the Festival evolve over the last three years. Starting out as Cup North in 2014, it was a modest, relaxed affair in a pair of adjoining rooms in Manchester’s Artwork. Last year it expanded to Victoria Warehouse, occupying a number of rooms on the first floor, feeling more like a mini London Coffee Festival, although on a much more manageable scale. Even so, I still didn’t have time to get around all the stands I wanted to!

Whether it’s your first time or you’re wondering what this year’s festival will hold, this preview is for you. There’ll be plenty of speciality coffee and related kit, with numerous cafes, roasters and equipment suppliers amongst the exhibitors. Food, as always, will play a big role, with a range of local street food traders on hand. Finally, the Festival will once again host a series of Tamper Tantrum talks.

With weekend tickets for just £18, or £10 if you only want to do a single day, it really is a bargain. Get your tickets now!

Continue reading

World of Coffee 2016: Meet the Roasters

An El Salvador single-origin espresso at the World of Coffee 2016, roasted by Cork's The Golden Bean, and served in my Kaffeeform cup, made from recycled coffee grounds.Welcome to the last of my three reports from the World of Coffee Event at Dublin. Since it was my first time at World of Coffee, I started off with a round-up two weeks ago, where I looked the event itself, which I liked to a cross between the London Coffee Festival and Caffè Culture, incorporating the best of both events. I followed that up last weekend with a look at some of the (many) espresso machines that were on display, plus a look at the Travel Press from Espro, which was my surprise discovery at World of Coffee.

However, most of the time I was at The Village, an area reserved for various small batch speciality roasters. I used this as an opportunity to catching up with various European roasters that I otherwise wouldn’t get to meet, including several Irish roasters who were out in force.

Continue reading

World of Coffee 2016: The Kit

A beautiful flat white, with latte art by Dhan Tamang, the reigning UK Latte Art Champion, made at the World of Coffee 2016 using the Conti Espresso 60th Anniversary espresso machine.I can’t believe it’s only been two weeks since I was in Dublin, attending the World of Coffee Event. As I pointed out in my round-up last week, I’d never been to World of Coffee before, so I didn’t know what to expect. As it turned out, I really liked it. A cross between the London Coffee Festival and Caffè Culture, it incorporated the best of both events and, as is always the case, there was far too much to for me to see, even though I was there on all three days.

I spent a lot of my time at The Village, catching up with various European roasters, which I’ll cover in detail next week. The rest of the time, when I wasn’t bumping into people I knew, I had a look at some of the kit on offer, which is what I’ll talk about this week.

The automatic filter coffee crowd was out in force, but having spent a lot of time with them at the London Coffee Festival, I gave them a miss this time around. Instead, I caught up with a couple of espresso machine manufacturers and a manual method that was new to me.

Continue reading

World of Coffee 2016: Round-up

A beautiful flat white, with latte art by Dhan Tamang, the reigning UK Latte Art Champion, made at the World of Coffee 2016 using the Conti Espresso 60th Anniversary espresso machine.This time last week, I was at the final day of three at the World of Coffee Event in Dublin. I’d never been to World of Coffee before, although I’d toyed with going in previous years.  In 2014 it was in Rimini and last year, Gothenburg was the host. In both cases, they fell in the middle of busy summers: last year, for example, I was in Portland on the final leg of my coast-to-coast trans-USA trip. This year, it at least fell on dates that I could attend.

With my new, flexible job (I don’t need to been in an office on a day-to-day basis) going was a distinct possibility, so I took the World of Coffee being (practically) on my doorstep as a sign. I booked my ticket, my Ryan Air flight, and an Airbnb (I managed to find one 10 minutes’ walk from the venue) and off I went.

Although I was there for all three days, for various reasons, including work commitments, and a desire to see something of Dublin’s coffee scene, I only managed three half-days at World of Coffee itself. However, that was enough to get a feel for what was going on.

Continue reading

Caffè Culture 2016: Meet the Roasters

The Caffe Culture Show logo from this yearIt’s very much the season for shows/festivals. April saw the London Coffee Festival, while I’m writing this during the World of Coffee in Dublin. However, today’s Saturday Supplement is all about last month’s Caffè Culture show. I’ve already covered the Caffè Culture Awards, where I was judging the Best Drink Award. However, in between my judging duties, I did have time for a (brief) look around the show.

Caffè Culture’s a different beast from the London Coffee Festival: for starters, it’s trade only, so tends to have a more relaxed atmosphere, particularly compared to the Saturday/Sunday at the Festival, where people are in and out within three hours. Of course, the exhibitors are also different, with an emphasis on the café trade as a whole, not just speciality coffee.

That said, Caffè Culture has made a definite effort in the last two years to embrace the speciality end of the market, providing a platform for small roasters to exhibit their wares. This, it turned out, was the ideal opportunity to catch up with some people I’d missed at the London Coffee Festival, as well as meeting a few that I’d not come across before. And, of course, there was cake.

Continue reading

London Coffee Festival 2016: Coffee

The London Coffee Festival LogoWelcome to this, the final one of my write-ups from this year’s London Coffee Festival. Previously I’ve written about automatic filter machines, cups, various bits of kit and my coffee experiences, while there’s also my round-up, which provides an overview of the whole festival. For this, the final instalment, it’s the turn of the coffee, arguably what the London Coffee Festival is all about!

As was the case in previous years, I could have spent all four days of the Festival visiting roasters old and new and I still wouldn’t have got around them all. So, with apologies to all the wonderful roasters I failed to visit, here’s a round-up of some of the highlights, coffee-wise, from this year’s festival. I’ll start off with Old Friends, roasters well-known to the Coffee Spot, before moving onto a new addition this year, the Roasters Village. Finally, I’ll take a look at some new roasting friends that I made at the festival, including a very surprising one that featured Bourbon…

However, coffee-bloggers cannot live on coffee alone, so I’ll finish things off with a look at the wonderful food that was on offer at this year’s much-expanded White Label Kitchen (and elsewhere!).

Continue reading