With the London Coffee Festival fast approaching, it’s easy to forget that hot on its heels comes the Caffè Culture Show, now in its 10th year. This year it’s on Wednesday 13th and Thursday 14th May at London’s Olympia and is bigger and better than ever. Amongst other things, it will be hosting the second Coffee Stop Awards (more on which in another post, although you can find out what I made of the first Coffee Stop Awards if you like) and the SCAE Coffee in Good Spirits and Tasters Cup Competitions (previously held at the London Coffee Festival).
However, the big news (for me, at least) is that I’ve been asked to judge the Caffè Culture Exhibitor Best Drink Award. This has involved me whittling a list of 25 entries down to a shortlist of five. I’ll be visiting all five stands on the Wednesday of the show and trying all the shortlisted drinks before selecting the winner.
There are two more awards: Best Food (judge: Maria Bracken, Editor of Lunch Business Magazine) and Best Innovative Product (judge: Helen Marriott, Editor of Caffè Culture Connect). Details of the Awards, including the shortlists, are on the Caffè Culture website.
You can read more of my thoughts after the gallery.
For me, the big question was how to go about judging the Awards since, other than my own Coffee Spot Awards, the only other thing I’ve judged was a latte-art throw down challenge at Cup North. However, as it turned out, this wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be.
After receiving the details of the 25 entries from Emma at Caffè Culture, I sat down and decided on a strategy. First of all, I picked five categories:
- fruit juice/water
My aim was to ensure that of the five shortlisted entries, there was one from each category. Then, all I had to do was pick that one entry from each category…
My reasoning was as follows, starting with the one closest to my heart, coffee.
Coffee: Caffiniti – Andaqui
Andaqui, from Caffiniti, isn’t an original idea, but it is one close to my heart, that of championing local producers from a particular area, in this case, Colombia (which, for once, I’ve spelt correctly!). The Andaqui are an indigenous people who farm and process the coffee in Colombia and I’m looking forward to tasting it at the show.
Tea: New Vithanakande Tea – Coffitea
Oaky, I admit that I’ve cheated slightly here, since my nomination is actually a combination of tea and coffee. On the other hand, it’s genuinely innovative and, if I’m honest, sounds absolutely horrible! I’m working on the reasoning that although it sounds horrible, no-one would actually produce something that actually tastes horrible, would they? Also, I’m keen challenge my prejudice/preconceptions and see what it’s actually like.
Chocolate: The Tea Room – Organic Drinking Chocolate Fusion Line
The chocolate category was one of the tricky ones with a number of strong entries. However, having short-changed the tea category by selecting a tea/coffee combination, I thought I’d redress the balance with my nomination for the chocolate category: a tea-infused drinking chocolate line. Again, a genuinely innovative product, again something I really looking forward to tasting to see what it’s actually like.
Milk/yoghurt: Lashbrook Lassis – Lashbrook Lassis
Lashbrook Lassis is a small producer inspired by a cycle journey across Indian, after which the founders decided to bring the taste of Indian lassis back to the UK with them. I’m a big fan of lassis and loved the back story on this one, so this was a pretty easy choice.
Fruit Juice/Water: Rocks Drinks – Rocks Organic Ginger and Wasabi
I’ve left the hardest one to last. In all honesty, I probably could have had three or four entries from this category in the shortlist, such was the strength of the entries! Just between you and me, I might sneak off when no-one’s looking and try the rest of the entries anyway. In the end, my choice was entirely personal. I adore ginger beer and was intrigued by the idea of a ginger and wasabi combination, an interesting twist on an old classic.
So, there you have the shortlist and the reasoning behind it. Who will win? Only time and my taste buds will tell!
Thanks to all the exhibitors who submitted nominations for the awards and thanks to Caffè Culture for inviting me to be a judge.
|OLYMPIA • BLYTHE ROAD ENTRANCE • LONDON • W14 8UX
|09:30 – 17:00
|09:30 – 16:00
|13th /14th May 2015
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