London Coffee Festival – A Reflection

Art & Culture

Not a drop of coffee until we arrive at the festival. That was the deal. Little did I know that I wouldn’t want another drop once I left the festival. Ever.

OK, the last bit is a bit of an exaggeration but once you get a taste of the best there is, you won’t want to go back to subordinate substances. Only the best will do. (So now I haven’t had coffee since. Only instant and that doesn’t count because everybody knows how bad it is.)

So you look beyond measuring every aspect of your ‘coffee construction’, slurping the sauce to unearth hidden flavours, and you target the very heart and soul of coffee – the coffee bean. 

I arrived looking for a £15 Hario pourover dripper. I left dreaming of a £15k roaster. I don’t want to settle for the finished product anymore. I want to source the origin. I want to produce the bean.

Coffee has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. I remember my parents’ old coffee machine, quietly sputtering and groaning with the growing day. The smell of coffee drifted through the house. I loved it. 

I grew up with people consuming it and then moved to where people grew it. The German efficiency fuelled by caffeine. The Panamanian coffee industry fuelled by poverty. Just the way things go, I suppose. 

Now I want to find a way to merge the two and I have the London Coffee Festival to thank (to blame? – Ed). Union Roasted gave a fascinating presentation on how to roast, Square Mile Coffee showed you how distinct three different filter coffees can taste, Wakefield let me sip, spill and spit coffee while trying to teach me the essential skill that is cupping. Caravan Coffee Roasters made a flat white so good I haven’t had one since for fear of being disappointed. 

There was so much stuff I would have liked to buy. The Rocket Espresso coffee machine, the Rancilio Silvia, the Eureka Mignon … If I were a rich man I’d be poor by now. 

The Coffee Masters isn’t even worth talking about. Where do these aliens come from? How can they do what they do? (Note to self: If I don’t become a roaster I’ll have to settle for becoming a barista.)

The festival was amazing. It has something for everyone and then a bit more. You arrive hoping you’ll taste the best coffee ever (you will) and you leave dreaming of roasting the finest coffee ever (you probably won’t). Go along next year and see for yourself. I’ll be there, drinking a flat white.