In April the team headed to London for this year’s Coffee Festival – and we wanted to give a review of this amazing event. Four days of some of the biggest and best names in coffee with food, music, demos and classes… it’s something we look forward to every year! There’s no time to rest afterwards though, as we’ve been busy catching up with all the people we met there. So, while everything’s still crystal clear in our minds, here are our highlights.
Flavour of the week
At Lincoln and York we use a simplified version of the coffee flavour wheel to categorise and identify the taste notes and flavour profiles of our coffee, and we’d be lying if we said that it wasn’t fun going through all the coffee options deciding which ones to bring to the festival to represent the sweet, savoury, floral and fruity groupings.
Coffee that goes through the Q-grading process is given a rating of 0-100, which you can read more about here. When a coffee is graded 80 or above, we can call it a speciality coffee; 80-84.99 is very good and 85-89.99 is premium. Why are we telling you this? Because the coffees we chose for the London Coffee Festival ranged from 86-88. All speciality. All premium.
For our sweet option, we chose a coffee from Finca La Golandrina in El Salvador, with notes of honey, caramel and dried fruit. With its mountainous terrain and abundant sunshine balanced out by plenty of rain, the growing conditions are perfect for coffee. We’re convinced you can taste the sunshine in every cup too.
Sumatra was the country of choice for our savoury coffee offering; a destination renowned for its intense flavour profile. In this case, the tasting notes were malt, spice and chocolate. The washing station and farm where this coffee comes from belong to Hendra, and his family experiment with methods of harvesting and fermentation; here they use a process known as thermal shock, placing the coffee cherries into bags and laying them in the sun to develop the flavour.
For our fruity coffee, we went for a stone fruits, berry and tropical-tasting coffee from Colombia, La Esperanza, grown at an altitude of 1,400-1,800 metres at the Potasi farm, which holds 52 hectares of coffee in its grounds.
For our floral coffee, we selected a coffee from Kayon Mountain Shakiso in Ethiopia – with tasting notes of jasmine, botanical and berry. Ethiopia is considered to be the birthplace of coffee, and coffee remains their biggest export to this day.
These weren’t the only coffee varieties that we took with us though. We also came armed with a Summer Solstice Swiss water decaffeinated coffee and an Espresso blend that combined three of the single origins from above; fruity, sweet and savoury.
Please drink sustainably
This year the Festival organisers ran a Sustainable Coffee Flight, they selected coffees from a number of exhibitors and visitors were encouraged to visit each stand and try the chosen sustainable coffees in a reusable cup. Visitors collected stamps from each stand to win a prize at the end of their visit.
Our Summer Solstice Swiss water decaf ‘carbon conscious’ coffee was chosen to be part of this push and we couldn’t have been prouder to be included.
The industry focus on sustainability was clear across the event this year with many exhibitors showcasing reusable and compostable cup options for cafes and coffee shops who want to focus on their ESG agenda’s. The event organisers also provided compostable cups for tasting and sampling coffee for all exhibitors to use.
Sustainability is a huge consideration for us here at Lincoln & York, from the way we source our coffee, to the operations at our site in Brigg and our packaging. You can read all about it in our Coffee, carbon and consumption article.
Sustainability is also now key to the organisation and operation of festivals, events and expos – and organisers, exhibitors and visitors are all expected to contribute in their own way. At Lincoln & York, we invested in our stand and bought our furniture to ensure the cabinets and cupboards can be re-used year after year to minimise wastage.
When you know, you know
We’re always learning at Lincoln & York. There’s always something new happening in the industry and that’s why we love these festivals. We also love getting to talk to people and teach them about coffee and how we do things at Lincoln & York. Teaching, learning and sharing is even better over a coffee.
Beyond our stand the festival was buzzing, with plenty happening across the four days. Our personal highlights included Coffee Masters, Latte Art Live and industry talks in the lab.
What we did each day
On Wednesday, something was brewing…
Some of the Lincoln & York team arrived in London early on 19th April to manage the build of the stand and get everything ready. The main part of the set up was to make sure the coffee machine – the La Cimbali M200 – and grinders were installed optimally for perfect-tasting coffee, and that the graphics, videos and marketing materials were ready for the visitors.
And on Thursday and Friday and Saturday…
The team arrived bright and early at 9am to brew coffee ready for the doors to open for the first day of the festival. It’s always so exciting and inspiring to see coffee fans and aficionados tasting and talking about their favourite drinks. And, when you’ve set up the stand in an empty venue, it’s brilliant to watch it buzzing the next day as it comes to life with people.
By Sunday 23rd April – the fourth and final day of the festival – we’d served more than 1,000 cups of coffee and raised £200 for Mind, our employee-chosen charity for the year. Thank you to everyone who donated!
And thank you to everyone who came by our stand, the organisers and fellow exhibitors, and to all the Lincoln & York team who helped make the London Coffee Festival 2023 one of the best yet. See you next year.