London Coffee Festival

Some disclaimers to start with.

  1. This post is long overdue. London Coffee Festival happened April 6-9, and I had purchased advanced tickets for the 8th and 9th. I went for the full day VIP tickets on the 8th, and the brunch session tickets for the 9th.
  2.  I had a friend visiting who expressed interest in tagging along to LCF with me, but knowing that her passion for coffee does not run nearly as deep as my own I wanted to be considerate and not force her into two full days of coffee mania. So a day and a half was fine.
  3. We had just gotten back from Italy, our flight was delayed, and we ended up back at homebase well past midnight, which made catching the early train into London a feat.
  4. The trains were completely off on Sunday with replacement bus service, making the half-hour trek to London three times as long and combined with fatigue, and having to jump on a plane the next day for a ten-hour flight to California…seem not worth it. So, yes, we skipped Sunday’s brunch session!

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Now that those items are out of the way, let’s talk LCF! Having been to Amsterdam Coffee Fest and loving it, I felt like I had a good baseline to compare from. I tried to keep my expectations in check, however, since each city and each festival has its own vibe (of course). I’m the person who shows up at 9:30 AM if an event starts at 10, but since we left late after our hectic night, we arrived just past 11 am. Which meant the crowds had already amassed. Luckily, there was a VIP entrance that expedited our entry!

  • The VIP tickets were worth it!

Not only were we able to get in and our quickly, we also had access to the VIP lounge and secret garden, as well as bathrooms (erm, “toilets” as the Brits say) that weren’t flooded with people. These were such nice reprieves from the bustling festival! It was also nice to not feel rushed to get everything seen and done in a three-hour session. We were able to amble about, engage with the exhibitors (though, getting the attention of the majority was unnecessarily difficult), retreat to the lounge anytime we needed a break-  oh, and as VIPs we were offered a free espresso martini, but this teetotaler couldn’t be bothered.

  • The Old Truman Brewery

This was a quaint venue in trendy Shoreditch that was so much larger on the inside than you would expect (like most buildings in London, I feel). It was a bit confusing though, and I felt like I was discovering new nooks and crannies with every lap I (unintentionally) did around the place. My favorite area was where all the teas were! So zen. There was also a nice, large outdoor space that was conducive to the food trucks and well as an alley with some food options.

There were so many good eateries around- I personally opted for Mooshies and was so impressed! I’ve had quite a few vegan burgers in my life, but Mooshies stands out for flavor, texture, consistency, and the customer service just added to the greatness! We witnessed two incidents where unassuming omnivores, coaxed into the establishment that does not blatantly states its vegan nature, were very impressed by the food! “This can’t be vegan, no!” was the statement that summed it up best.

Back to the venue, it got progressively more crowded as the day wore on, and it was a very warm day (above 70F/21c). The place was sweltering and I could see the exhaustion on so many people’s faces!

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  • Yes, I overdid the coffee

When I recently went on a trip to Paris with a friend, her husband rang and, in asking about me, asked if I was sick off coffee yet. What a reputation to hold! I didn’t have nearly as much coffee at LCF as I did at ACF, probably because I wasn’t able to talk with as many exhibitors at LCF and I didn’t want to be drinking coffee just to drink it, I was there to experience and learn! But at the end of the day, I was still jittery and a bit nauseated. Oops.

Overall, LCF was an experience and I wish I had done the brunch session on Sunday, but it just was not in the cards. The overpacked venue and hesitant exhibitors (snooty hipsters, dare I say?) dampened the experience for me, but I think as the years go on, things  change and improve! I’m so glad that I had the chance to attend LCF and would love to go again in a few year’s time to witness the progress. I’d also love to see more workshops, seminars, and basic educational classes. Even as a VIP, I was expected to pay 5-10 pounds extra to attend any of the workshops that were happening, which doesn’t seem quite right. Especially seeing as access to workshops at ACF was not any additional charge.

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Here’s hoping that NYC Coffee Festival works out in September!

-Karen