If you know me, you know I go through at least three cups of coffee a day (today’s count is at four because I haven’t been sleeping very well). London is surprisingly also very coffee-centred, with the major chains offering loads of different options, but also with a bunch of small, independent shops and Instagram accounts dedicated to cafes of the city cropping up all the time. I guess you sort of assume that London would be all about the tea, and while it is very much present, coffee culture is strong and continuously growing. This is especially prevalent in east London, so it makes sense that the festival took place off of Brick Lane in the Old Truman Brewery warehouse. This is also means that things were reeeeal trendy. And hot. Omg it was so hot in there. Please introduce central cooling – it’s 2017.
In order to attend the festival, you have to buy tickets in advance because it is actually quite a popular event. I purchased two for £25 because I found a promo code at a tube station. When buying the tickets, you have to select a time slot that grants you access for three hours and then you can purchase workshops, classes and things like espresso martini tokens online as well. Everything was booked up when I bought the tickets (four days before the festival), but also, I’m not about to pay for stuff on top of paying for tickets? These workshops also weren’t cheap so???? Yeah, I’ll pass on the latte art class.
My friend and I had no plan of action and as neither of us had been to the festival before, had no clue what to expect. There were A LOT of vendors. Like, pretty sure every cafe in London was there. There were also a lot of juice, tea, health, smoothie and coffee companies in addition to actual cafes, so that was pretty cool. We decided on just going anywhere that didn’t have a massive queue, but that was offering free samples of either protein bars or drinks. This worked out quite well once we made it out of that initial entrance area and were in the less populated tea zone, hoarding tiny disposable cups of piping hot tea (don’t worry, recycle venues were set up around the venue and they were overflowing, so clearly that was a) a good idea and b) people were recycling!). You can also buy everything you taste, along with coffee makers and some very cool mugs.
The best part of this festival was that our shameless free sample gathering was fully supported in that the vendors understood we were literally just there for the free shit and didn’t force into any awkward small talk. It was a beautiful thing being able to go up to a stand and get three different kinds of teas or try all seven flavours of protein bars and waltz off to the next booth. We bought a croissant for £1 each and split the cost of an iced coffee with Bailey’s, so spent an additional £5 overall. After about 25 samples, we decided to take a break and recollect ourselves on the lawn in front of the live music, which was good and unoffensive to my ears. It was super nice that there was a designated chill out zone because tbh, the coffee was racing through my veins at alarming rates and I needed a break.
We then headed back to the booths and made our way through the rest of the venue, being a bit more selective with our sample-taking. Now that I know what the festival is like, I would go back armed with more snacks to help soak up the coffee, and would still forego paying for any of the workshops. I would also try to go at an earlier slot on the Friday of the festival rather than the afternoon on a Saturday. I’m sure it’s just as crowded, but perhaps a bit more relaxed. Plus, I stayed up until 4 that morning, which may or may not have been influenced by massive dinner-turned-night-out with friends following the fest? If you’re a fan of coffees, teas and juices, I recommend the festival to try a bunch of new stuff and if you’re really interested, you can engage in proper convos with professionals. Plus, you get a cool tote bag, so that’s always cool!