I can’t believe that it’s already been two weeks since the London Coffee Festival in Brick Lane. How time flies! Well, now that the dust has settled, it’s time to look back on my second visit, which was to the Sunday teatime session. I had intended to be there earlier in the day, but real-life took a hand and put paid to that. And, as regular readers will already know, mornings are not my friend.
If you didn’t manage to make it this year, you really should consider going next year. You’d be wise to book your ticket well in advance though, since pretty much every session this year either sold out or all but sold out before the day itself. I’m very glad I went: not knowing what to expect, I deliberately set my sights low, but ended up being delighted by everything there. The coffee was excellent, the food amazing, the people fantastic and to cap it all, the espresso machines were very, very shiny…
You can catch up with my exploits on my first day there, or read on to find out what I got up to on my last day…
Terrone Coffee – True Artisan Café
Terrone was one of the three roasters/cafés featured in the True Artisan Café, a pop-up coffee shop that is one of the best things about the Coffee Festival. I made a bee-line for Terrone as soon as I arrived, largely due to the influence of fellow blogger, Giulia of mondomulia. Giulia is one of Terrone’s biggest fans and cheerleaders (there are three pieces on her blog about Terrone). I’m not sure I would have been able to look Giulia in the eye if I hadn’t gone.
As it was, I didn’t regret it, since the coffee was great and I got to meet Edy Piro, one half of Terrone Coffee, who, as well as being passionate about his coffee, also had the best beard at the Coffee Festival. This, by the way, is no idle claim, since there was plenty of stiff competition with beards galore, most of them putting my neatly-trimmed effort into the shade.
Artisan Market/Street Food Market
From the True Artisan Café, I headed into the Street Food Market where I had promised myself a treat. After showing great restrain on Friday and not succumbing to temptation, my reward was a waffle from Wafflemeister. The original plan had been to photograph the waffle, but I was rather overcome by the moment and ate it instead! I also wondered into the Street Food Market and bought some classic torcetti biscuits (to have later) from Crosta & Mollica.
After that I wandered back into the main hall and paid a return visit to the Nata Pura stall, which can lay claim to the best tasting natas (Portuguese custard pastries) outside Portugal, and the Gelupo Italian ice cream stall. Sadly I wasn’t buying on Sunday, having sampled both on Friday. However, I did have a long chat with Simon, the general manager at Gelupo, who had had such a successful Coffee Festival that he only had two flavours of ice cream left!
While I was in the main hall, I paid a visit to L’Accademia di Cimbila, the other thing that I’d saved for my Sunday visit. La Cimbali, the Italian espresso machine maker, brought a small selection of the machines from the MUMAC Museum in Milan, a museum dedicated to espresso. This included an old cylinder machine and some iconic machines from the 50s and 60s. However, pride of place was the new M100 machine which offers complete control over the pressure profile, allowing the machine to make espressos as they would have been at various times in the past.
I decided to try the 1960s espresso since that was the decade of my birth. The espresso was pretty good but it was hard to tell exactly how it differed from a more modern espresso (since I had nothing to compare it to). However, when the barista made me an espresso with the 1950s setting the difference was immediately obvious. The beans were identical, as was the grind, the only difference being the pressure profile of the machine.
After the La Cimbali stand, I took a little while to wander around the main hall looking at the various shiny espresso machines on offer. There were an awful lot of them. And they were very shiny.
There was a selection from Faema, a competitor of Cimbali, which Cimbali bought in 1995. This included an iconic E61 from 1961 and the latest offerings from 2012 and 2013, showing how little the classic design had changed, at least on the exterior. I also had the chance to experience Rancilio envy; having recently bought a Rancilio Silvia for use at home, I got to salivate over a three-group classe 9 machine.
However, probably the best and shiniest machines were on the Rocket/Volcano stand. The Rocket machines, which were beautiful, very shiny, and just outside my price-range, are certainly something to aspire to.
Talkhouse Coffee – True Artisan Café
My next stop was back in the True Artisan Café where I paid a visit to Talkhouse Coffee, another recently-opened coffee shop. Talkhouse is one of the few which has ventured into the west of London and has had my fellow coffee bloggers raving about it. Having learnt from my mistakes on Friday I’d brought my own espresso cup (not the one that graces the banner on the Coffee Spot, but a less-elegant number I picked up in Venice for €0.80) which I’d been using all day.
At the Talkhouse pop-up I was privileged to be served by not only the UK’s Aeropress champion, Isa Verschraegen, but also by the man who finished second to her, Christian Baker, who had been drafted in from Association Coffee. Naturally, when faced by two such masters of the Aeropress, I had an espresso…
I also ran into fellow blogger, Chloe, of the Fairietale Foodie, who was one of the people who’d put me onto Talkhouse in the first place. You can see what Chloe thinks of Talkhouse itself here.
Ozone Coffee Roasters
My final stop of the day was at the Ozone Coffee Roasters stall for a flat white (after another day of espresso, and having ignored my own advice of taking water, I needed something a little longer). The flat white I had was excellent, highlighting Ozone’s Hodson blend.
From there it was time to run (quite literally) to Paddington (okay, I took the tube, but I did end up running down the platform at Paddington so as not to miss my train) as I headed off to Bristol for a mini-Coffee Spot tour of Bristol, Cheltenham and Cardiff. Keep your eyes peeled for future posts!
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