Six things we learned at The London Coffee Festival

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From sparkling cold brews to temperature profiling, this year’s London Coffee Festival, which took place at the Old Truman Brewery, delivered another batch of trade secrets


  1. Bartenders and baristas should be bedfellows

Owner of award-winning café and bar Chapter 72 on Bermondsey Street, Rod Eslamieh, was holding forth in the Lab with his talk ‘From Coffee Bar to Cocktail Shop’. The crux? The importance of transferrable skills between bartenders and baristas in making your coffee and cocktail businesses a success. The similarities between both professions are vast, so there’s no reason why their related skills can’t be shared among the bar team. Knowledge is power, and if you can make sure your staff are well-versed in both, then your business will boom.

 

  1. Sparkling coffee is a thing

Apparently, just producing a cold brew is so 2018 – and Union Hand-Roasted Coffee proved it by launching Sparkling Black, its new carbonated version, in can. Made from Guatemalan beans, it’s steeped for 24 hours then blended, before being given the SodaStream treatment. It’s an acquired taste, for sure, but we can see the cool kids snapping back the pop tabs on these with ‘I-heard-of-it-first’ glee – definitely one for stocking over summer.

 

  1. A brand-new beer-style tap system is coming to the on-trade

The guys from coffee machine and barista training company Matthew Algie were showing off a prototype beer-style tap system on their stand. Pours included Ethiopia Sidamo cold brews, nitro infusions and a Cold Fashioned cocktail, and the team were pouring them straight from the taps. No time frame was given as to when they might be available for bar owners, so we recommend keeping your ear to the ground.

 

  1. Non-dairy milks aren’t going away

Perhaps unsurprisingly, dairy milk took a backseat to its more sustainable cousins at the 2019 show. Specific emphasis was put on non-dairy milk that is especially manufactured for coffee making (such as Minor Figures and Oatly Barista Edition). These non-dairy milks are formulated specifically with protein and fat content in mind, as these are significant factors when steaming milk.

 

  1. A model is behind the beloved Espresso Martini

As part of the brand’s Coffee Month activation, Tia Maria’s UK brand ambassador Stephanie Rainbow (or just Rainbow, as she’s often referred to) launched a series of workshops at this year’s festival. Imbibe was invited to one on Espresso Martinis where Rainbow explained the history behind the cocktail’s invention. It was created at Soho Brasserie in 1983 when bartender Dick Bradsell was approached at the bar by a model who asked for something to ‘wake her up and f*** her up’. He called it a Vodka Espresso, and over time it evolved into the Pharmaceutical Stimulant before taking on its now universally recognised name.

 

  1. Temperature matters

Legacy brand Rancilio Speciality premiered its new RS1 machine, teaching visitors about its ‘temperature profiling’ ability. Able to raise and lower the machine’s water temperature within the extraction of each espresso shot, it means that baristas can manipulate a certain coffee’s characteristics to suit its drinker’s tastes. Definitely one for trained baristas or bartenders who want more control of their in-house coffee when it comes to creating cocktails.

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