If London was in one hand and coffee was in another, and I had to choose; my response would be that of Joey's (from Friends): 'Put your hands togeher' I would say, and would probably nod and smile in the same way too. I'm here for a week and Sunday was the only day I was to be completely free. My initial plan was street photography using my latest toy, the Fujifilm X10, but the rain has been constant all week, and the forecast was the same for the Sunday. The met office have confirmed this April as the wettest since 1910. Luckily, I was getting a coffee last week when I came across the London Coffee Festival magazine. I booked my ticket the same night and created a dream cocktail: London, photography and coffee.
Roasteries, cafes, machine manufacturers, cup makers, cup-holder makers, cafe furniture people, you name it and it was there. Anything and anyone to do with coffee. I almost wished I got a stand for our Arabic coffee (dallah) as it's very little known and would be really appreciated by the people I saw here. I had more coffee in one day than I usually drink in a week.
The event was very well organised and I loved the small touches such as the booth names and numbers looking like London street signs. There was also a lot of interesting contraptions. The one below boils the water to the top chamber and once the coffee is mixed in it filters down when the bottom is empty as a vacuum is created in the connecting tube.
Every coffee system you can imagine was on display, from state-of-the-art automatic machines to the good old-fashioned filter. There were clever cup holders that allow you to carry six coffees in one hand; and my favourite, a lid that has a hole in the middle so you can enjoy the aroma of the coffee you're drinking. Lessons and competitions were organised throughout creating the perfect buzz. Live music and food made the place a little more sociable than a typical exhibition. It was busier than I thought it would be but not over-crowded.
I would have been satisfied by the clever designs and meeting a few independent cafe owners, but this being London, I knew I would find something completely new. I visited the booth of a company in the business of sample roasting. They have patented the technology to control the roasting electronically by setting many variables for your desired roast. You can control almost everything, and fifty grams a time you can have the perfect personalised roast in minutes. The two trays below are before and after images of the same beans. Ikawa are now moving into the consumer segment and will be selling their units as a home roasting solution. If you grind your beans at home, this is the natural next step, but at the prices they mentioned to me, I think it will be years before George Cloony advertises for them.
Going back to the original plan for the Sunday, street photography here is promising. My wife told me the place is interesting but I didn't realise how much. I haven't been around here for many years and I will come back in the summer to spend the day rediscovering it.