When I was Skyping with Chris of La Marzocco Italy yesterday, he was on his way out the door to the London Coffee Festival, which began today and continues through Sunday. And Chris—who travels all the time for work—was super excited to go. So that made me think this event must really be something special.
The London Coffee Festival has a really amazing and ingenious format: the first two days are reserved for trade only, but the last two days are open to the public as a ticketed coffee fun fest. This annual event, which is the flagship event of UK Coffee Week, has captured the hearts and attention of London’s coffee savvy population, and last year drew more than 15,000 people described as “coffee lovers and foodies, professional baristas, coffee shop owners, and top decision makers.”
It sounds like the coffee party you dream of attending—or at least I do—where I can see new products and catch up with Barista Magazine‘s friends and clients, but do it all with a beer in my hand and with a great DJ playing in the background. When I’m hungry, I head to the section of the exhibition space called the Street Food Market, where gourmet food products and coffees are served. The food fare includes anything and everything popular with Londoners, from burgers to Indian Rhoti Wraps, Tex Mex and dim sum, cheeses, meats, olives, breads, and more.
The whole thing is set up like a tiny city, you see, complete with an area sponsored by La Marzocco called the True Artisan Cafe where different roasters (see below) bring their staffs and coffee to brew for the crowd. There’s a whole space dedicated to sampling food and other beverages, and a lounge, of course. There are tons of musicians and DJs on the docket. It’s like a rave if raves were about coffee, and if they were cool. It all takes place in an old brewery—no stuffy convention center for this event!
As if it wasn’t already amazing, the whole thing is for charity. Project Waterfall is the central focus for fundraising during the UK Coffee Week. The organization improves access to safe water, hygiene, and sanitation in coffee-growing communities in Africa. One hundred percent of all funds raised from consumer donations during the London Coffee Festival and the UK Coffee Week will directly benefit Project Waterfall.
I wish we had something like United States Coffee Week along these lines—this thing sounds freakin’ amazing! If you want to get a feel for the Festival, you can go HERE and watch short videos from last year. And stay tuned for a full report on how it shook down in the June/July issue of Barista Magazine. Better yet, if you’re in London or able to get there quickly, go to the Festival and see for yourself!
No wonder Chris was so excited…