Feeling spiritual? Good, because this March you can embark on a journey of stimulating self-discovery with us. No, we're not talking about drum circles or hot yoga, but the return of the London Coffee Festival, which runs from 28-31 March and celebrates London's vibrant coffee scene and its creative subcultures. From speciality tastings to industry talks and artisan workshops, this is the ideal event for the caffeine fiends among us.
Now in its ninth year, the festival is Europe's largest gathering of coffee aficionados, and this year it's set to be bigger than ever. More than 250 exhibitors and 30,000 coffee lovers are expected to attend over the four days. From coffee pros to average Joes, there's something for everyone with even the slightest penchant for coffee.
The festival also marks the start of UK Coffee Week; a national celebration aimed at giving back to the communities that make coffee possible. The festival and UK Coffee Week support Project Waterfall, an initiative where 100% of proceeds go towards providing clean drinking water and sanitation to the world's coffee-growing communities. Last year, over £100,000 was raised. If that's not a great reason to sip, we don't know what is.
If you haven't had your morning coffee yet and want a helping hand in sifting through some of the great events that are going to be going on, we've created this guide on just a few of the buzzing different events and workshops going on at this year's London Coffee Festival:
Latte Art Live
Always dreamt of pouring the perfect rosetta on your flat white? Good news: Latte Art Live is back, bringing the world's top latte-art specialists together for one super-frothy selection of events. You've probably already seen them on Instagram, so why not take this chance to watch them all at work right in front of you in a series of throw downs, showcases and hands-on workshops. These include: an Ozone Throwdown with the folks from Ozone Coffee Roasters, a Dairy-Free Latte Art Workshop with Almond Breeze, and Latte Art Karaoke. Yep, you'll find us there crooning Sinatra and sipping on a flat white. Expect all that, and a lot of free coffee, too.
You'll definitely want to make sure you get yourself a comfortable seat for the Coffee Masters. Returning for the fifth time, this prestigious competition sees the UK's top 20 baristas go head-to-head over four days of competition for the coveted title of Coffee Master and a cheque for £5,000. Judged by a panel of industry figureheads in a fast-paced knockout battle format, it's the ultimate test of skill, innovation and creativity. And coffee wizardry. The Coffee Masters promises to be a real crowd pleaser.
The Mindful Coffee Tasting Experience
New to this year's line-up is the Mindful Coffee Tasting. Which sounds useful considering mindfulness is not something we usually have on our caffeine-deprived brains first thing in the morning. The MCT is a multi-sensory experience where festival-goers can immerse themselves and appreciate coffee in a brand new way thanks to an updated outlook and meditation pointers provided by Just Breathe. The duration of each MCT Experience is 45 minutes, giving you an in-depth insight into a holistic approach to coffee drinking that will (hopefully) encourage you to source, brew and consume coffee more mindfully. Guests will also be taken through a guided meditative coffee tasting session by Just Breathe expert, Michael James Wong before participating in an educational discussion and roasting demonstration with Caravan Coffee Roasters.
La Marzocco Kitchen's home barista workshops
It's going to be pretty hard to miss La Marzocco. But if you really want to get stuck in and be a full-on coffee geek, then you can't pass up on La Marzocco's home barista workshops. For a £5 donation to Project Waterfall, the festival's chosen charity, the La Marzocco team will teach you how to make the perfect espresso. In the space of 20 minutes you'll go from zero to... well, accomplished home barista and you'll get to play around with the La Marzocco swish Linea Mini machine while doing so. Basically, you'll feel like a kid let loose in a toy shop – and who doesn't love that? Don't miss out.
The White Label Kitchen
There's never really an excuse for limp chips and grey burgers, like, ever. But at an event like the London Coffee Festival, there's even less reason for you to be sullying your carefully refined coffee palate with terrible food. Thankfully, The White Label Kitchen are going to be at the festival to deliver a dining experience that joins together some of London's food concepts for the ultimate festival feed. Expect offerings form the likes of Crabbieshack, DF Mexico, and Arancini Brothers. The latter has even created a bespoke The London Coﬀee Festival Special Burger for the occasion. Get stuck in, my caffeine-addled friend.
The Key Info
The London Coffee Festival runs from 28-31 March 2019, with tickets from £14.50 for standard admission, and £72 for a Weekend VIP package, which includes weekend admission, fast-track entry via a VIP entrance, access to the VIP Suite and Secret Garden, two espresso martini tokens, unlimited coffee, food tasting and more.
For more information about the festival or to buy tickets, visit londoncoffeefestival.com
The Coffee Art Project
There's no denying that coffee is an art form. It takes a certain amount of skill and craftsmanship to know if your espresso is too long or if your milk is just right. As for the crazy patterns on top of that luscious latte – don't even get us started on the level of precision required to form that perfect heart, leaf, or swan. Trust us, it's a tricky business. But when it comes to this delicious brew there are more ways than one to express (or should we say espress?) your passion for the dark stuff. Enter: The Coffee Art Project, a fundraising initiative for Project Waterfall. Showcasing throughout London Coffee Festival, the project features coffee-inspired works from emerging and established artists. Visitors are encouraged to vote for their favourites throughout the festival, but if you want a sneak peek, artworks can be viewed and purchased here. The winning artist will receive a cash prize of £1,000 and three other shortlisted runners-up will receive £250. Visitors to The London Coffee Festival 2019 will also be able to vote for their favourite piece.