Cooper’s on tour - London Coffee Festival 2022
There’s a Taoist saying “the journey is the reward”. I mention this because our journey to the London Coffee Festival this year was a combination of endurance and reward. The endurance element saw our plane to London cancelled at 22.00 hours and was followed by a “red eye” plane before getting on a series of trains and eventually walking to the show held in the Old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. To say that we felt we’d earned our day off the Island would be an understatement.
London is an amazing city and when I can I try to start at Borough Market and my favourite café “Monmouth”. A hand poured filter coffee with a freshly baked almond croissant is a combination from the Gods.
The walk from Borough Market to Shoreditch is an education in itself. You are surrounded by great architecture and hundreds of years of heritage. Vlad, our Romanian Café Manager commented that he always hears a Romanian voice in the city which demonstrates what a global village it has become.
As usual there was a queue to get into the Festival, the excitement is palpable even on the street. This year all COVID restrictions had been lifted and normality reigned. For those who have not been to the show before it can feel overwhelming. The energy, the sheer number of people and the noise combine to blunt the senses.
There is a huge amount of hype around the show, exemplified by one particular brand of coffee machine called “Slayer”! Another extraordinary coffee machine had a series of controls that reminded me of hi-fi systems of 30 years ago. The ones where you’d make a wave shape with the controls because it looked cool. Then there are the “modbars” where the only part of the coffee machine visible are the “group heads”. You could be pulling a pint rather than making a coffee.
The show though does have its serious points. Project Waterfall looks to raise money for the provision of clean drinking water in producing countries. Sales from an art exhibition at the show were going towards the project.
The most bizarre stand was probably the one selling animal snacks. What an original idea to add value to your coffee sale. No doubt appreciated by many a dog owner.
So where is the world of coffee headed? Apart from the latest anaerobic, heirloom varietal only available seasonally, it’s difficult to say. There was a notable absence of Nitro-brew coffee, last year’s hot trend and far fewer alcoholic combinations. The equipment is becoming increasingly sophisticated and one piece of kit does reflect the current recruitment pressures on today’s coffee shops. It goes by the name of Wally - La Marzocco - it’s an amazingly sophisticated system for perfect milk texturising. It, of course, comes with an appropriate price tag but in today’s market it will maintain the quality of the great vanishing Barista.
Finally, I see coffee has now reached a 5th wave. Please don’t ask me what the previous 4 were as I was vanishing down a rabbit hole at the time. Anyway trust me, the 5th wave is now the “Biophilic” coffee shop. It apparently promotes wellbeing, decreases stress and enhances productivity. Isn’t that the difference in impact of regular and decaff coffee?! No, apparently it’s helping the “urban jungle” turn over a new leaf…… For once we’re on trend here in Jersey. Those 10 year old trees at Cooper’s Castle Quay and the 3 year old green wall at our IFC café are now “de rigueur” apparently. We were just waiting for the rest of the world to catch up!
And finally, finally we were intrigued by an exhibition of bendy mirrors. Thinking it was a new trend in coffee shops we made enquiries only to be told that it was an installation for the show. Duh!
And so home, it had been a very long day and the steam was rapidly running out of our collective cappuccinos, but of course it wouldn’t be memorable without one final flight delay. Not only is there a world shortage of Baristas but there also appears to be a world shortage of cabin crew. Just the hour delay this time on the last flight of the evening and of course you’ve guessed it not a taxi driver in site when we landed. Plus ça change!