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The London Coffee Festival is in full swing on Brick Lane, serving up more cups of Joe than you can twitch a disused eyelid at until Sunday. The Old Truman Brewery has been crammed full with more than 250 stalls hosting Allpress Espresso to York Coffee Emporium and everything in between, creating a fragrant hive of baristas, chocolatiers, bakers, and resilient tea traders.
Last year the UK coffee shop market grew by 6.4%, with 15 million cups being sold in the UK on a daily basis. As more casual drinkers become connoisseurs, the festival is positioned to prove that coffee demands the same respect as wine, with bean variety, provenance and preparation all being important factors in the final taste.
That all-important taste requires seriously skilled ambassadors, who will all be present and correct as the festival hosts the UK Barista Championships this weekend. Those hoping to make it to Sunday’s final include Prufrock Coffee’s Heidi Beeton and Estelle Bright from Caravan (pictured right).
Making espresso machines since 1927, Italian company La Marzocco have built the pop-up True Artisan Café for the festival, inviting top baristas from around the UK to provide their best coffees. Visitors are able to watch the machines being built, or even opt for a cocktail to soothe a caffeine crash.
Fellow Italians Lavazza are fuelling the fervour by launching their limited edition Kafa blend, sourced from the Kafa forest in Ethiopia, coffee’s genetic home. Tailored specifically for the UK’s top restaurants, the new offering furthers the cause for a more considered cup. Samples are available at the Lavazza stall, with displays showcasing the bean’s flavours and fragrances.
Towards the back of the Old Truman Brewery you’ll find an enthusiastic bunch of baristas from Make Decent Coffee, demonstrating various methods for brewing filter coffee at home. They will patiently talk you though the process of using an Aeropress, a French press, V60s or a Chemex (the name may sound sininster but it makes a mean cup), with the aim of ensuring visitors discover how to make more flavourful coffee in their own kitchens.
Tickets for The London Coffee Festival are priced from £11.50 in advance or £14.50 at the venue. For advance tickets and more information about what to expect, visit the website.