Hello folks, sorry it’s a bit late but here’s my look back at the London Coffee Festival 2018! Overall? I had a lot of fun.
So without further ado, let’s get into it by bombarding you with pictures! Here are just a selection of stands/kit that caught my eye, there are dozens on dozens more at the festival itself. Some of what you see here will be getting reviewed in the future, some of it I would need to win the lottery to be able to afford, sadly (I’m looking at you, La Marzocco)!
They had expanded out to three floors this year which was a damn good thing. Last year it got a bit cramped and claustrophobic later in the day, but this year there were only a handful of bottlenecks that could be avoided with a minimum of fuss. As this was my second visit, I was a bit more prepared for what to expect so I took the opportunity to book some add-ons for my visit.
First off was “Home Barista Skills” in the La Marzocco Kitchen. This was an informal little class where you got to chat to a trained barista, discuss the kinds of kit you have at home and where you might be able to improve your skills. I got some helpful tips for my shot and for measuring/tamping the grounds so all in all it was well worth a fiver! I also got to play with a La Marzocco Linea Mini which is probably the only time I’ll ever get my hands on one of those. 🙂
Second was with Hotel Chocolat’s School of Chocolate and that was the “Coffee and Chocolate Pairing” and it turned out to be both funny and educational. The gent they had doing the talking was very engaging, I learned more about the history, farming and production of chocolate in that hour than I had in the last twenty years and also discovered I’m not a fan of 100% cocoa chocolate! If you’re a chocolate fan, this is well worth your time.
I did have a third class booked, but by the time it started getting close to it, I was utterly knackered and my feet were killing me from near six hours of tromping around the stalls so I gave it a miss and headed home instead. Note to self, buy the really heavy stuff LAST not FIRST like some sort of n00b. Ah well, there’s always next year!
As well as all the stands displaying coffee, tea, etc, they have a live music stage where I spent some time. I was delighted to find that All the People were playing there again, a band I was introduced to at last year’s festival. Here’s some videos of them for your listening pleasure. Unfortunately I can’t embed them properly here as that would require me to chuck wordpress another chunk of change and I’m not quite willing to do that yet.
One thing though, guys? Give us song titles when you’re playing! It’s lovely to hear you and all, but it’d be handy to know which songs you’re playing. 😛 I’ve included a link to their site up above because they seem like genuinely nice chaps and if you like your music a lil funky then they’re well worth your time! I made sure to pick their album up this time round.
What else to say? I think my only problem, and part of the reason it’s taken me a while to write this, is there’s simply so MUCH to try and cram in. The smells, the sounds, the atmosphere, the chance to try fifty different coffees in one day. Oh! Here’s a hot tip – You will be offered copious quantities of coffee throughout the day. Do not drink it all or, if you’re like me, by the end of the day you’ll never want to see another cup again! I learned my lesson and this time I only took a few sips of each cup to decide if I liked it before moving on.
For me, this is a chance to learn more about coffee, to see the new kit, to try all these different sorts of coffees and pick up information about roasters I’ve never done business with, and hopefully chat to those I have. With that in mind, I’d like to give a big shout out to Lynsey, the founder/CEO of Modern Standard coffee. These guys are my go-to supermarket coffee if I ever run out of the special ordered stuff and I had no idea they were such a tiny operation, nor that their founder is a fellow Scot! They’re a company of nine people, supplying a major nationwide chain of supermarkets and doing a bloody fine job of it. It was lovely to get to hear about the history of the company and how they got to where they are now.
If I had to criticise, and you know I have to because that’s kind of my thing, I would have three suggestions for LCF for next year.
1. Improve the street food offering. I get that everyone is going vegan/veggie/non-dairy because it’s hip and trendy, but when there only appears to be a single meat option available? That’s pretty poor, guys. I don’t do veggie, and I don’t do seafood. Luckily there are food trucks outside, less luckily I got to sit in the peeing rain while I ate my food.
2. Some sort of cloakroom/bag storage would be lovely, somewhere to store our purchases so we don’t need to carry them around everywhere! Please please please consider this for next year because for those of us with bad backs (such as yours truly. Two lower discectomies have left my spine somewhat temperamental) carrying our purchases around becomes an actual pain in the back, neck, ass and everywhere else.
3. Can we please make the Secret Garden non-smoking? It’s kinda rank and puts me off wanting to spend more than a few seconds in it because you’re hemmed in on all sides by people smoking. Personal peeve, again, but dang. That’s nasty.
Oh! Another tip for anyone who hasn’t been to things like this before – Dress comfy and try to avoid too many layers. It gets very warm in there, and you’re going to be doing a LOT of walking. Comfy shoes go without saying. This place is sort of like the Tardis, everytime you think you’ve seen everything, you find another whole new section and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
Well that’s all I think I want to say right now. There’s so much more I could say but I think I’ve gone on long enough. If you like coffee, tea, chocolate, if you like gadgets, you owe it to yourself to visit this at least once. If you DO go I’d strongly recommend you splah out for a VIP ticket, if only so then you don’t need to worry about time limits, and the freebies are always nice. I, for one, had an absolute blast and I’m already looking forward to tickets going on sale for 2019!
Maybe I’ll see some of you there!