Just over a week ago, we attended The London Coffee Festival in the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane. The festival is the UK’s largest coffee and artisan food event showcasing world-class baristas, interactive workshops and coffee-based cocktails. It brought together the best that coffee and its subcultures have to offer, aiming to engage, educate and entertain through the medium of coffee beans. With UCC being a main sponsor, we were excited to see some familiar faces, not to mention slurping many of the coffee based products.
Wading through the crowd which was estimated at 23,500 caffeine-seekers across the 4 days, we were lucky enough to taste a variety of samples ranging from Starbucks Mojito-flavoured iced tea, Rachel’s Organic Lattes and vodka infused Darjeeling Earl Grey iced tea cocktail from the Tea Pigs #summertimetea campaign.
As we made our way through to the coffee machinery section, which included brand new state of the art espresso machines, tamping accessories and even an in-car espresso maker, we found ourselves at our favourite stand, the Tate & Lyle immersive flavour station.
Drawing inspiration out of Heston Blumenthal’s book, Tate and Lyle was offering an interactive installation that focused on how our sense of taste can be accentuated through sound and smell. The experience allowed consumers to try its new flavours of coffee syrup, such as salted caramel and spiced caramel, using a process called ‘taste modulation’.
The visitors would inhale flavoured vapour and wear a set of headphones to enhance the taste sensation with scent and atmospheric music. The visitors would then be encouraged to try a piece of fudge and taste its sweet-scented notes on their palate. The aim was to make sure guests focus on the personality of each taste and ensure they leave ‘emotionally charged’ and ready to share.
Another brand we found interesting was Minor Figures, which has an environmentally friendly approach. Addressing the concern of ending up with hundreds of kilos of coffee waste, the brand aspires to give coffee a second life. The Hackney-based cold brew coffee brand makes coffee soaps and scrubs that promise to get you squeaky clean - with a suitably roasted aroma. The brand, true to its ethical and responsible approach, donates 10p from each bar to Allegra Foundation’s Project Waterfall, a charity committed to increase access to clean water.
As we departed from the festival slightly bleary-eyed, we left with much admiration of the complexity and potential of our everyday cup of coffee. The festival will undoubtedly evolve into an even greater affair in the future as a consequence of the evolution in technology, consumer needs and trends that will further affect the way we enjoy our morning cuppa.
By Jessica Edwards