What you missed at London Coffee Festival 2023
New Ground dropped in to the London Coffee Festival for an exhilarating four days of exceptional coffees and stand-out innovation that’s set to guide the future of the industry.
Across four days last week, Brick Lane’s Truman Brewery pulsated as some 30,000 people descended for the London Coffee Festival.
All the senses went into overdrive, with the waft of freshly roasted coffee mingling with the whoosh of steaming milk and the sight of brightly coloured stands showcasing the cutting-edge of machine innovation and some of the world’s finest specialty coffees. A new Coffee Masters champion was also crowned following an intense battle across the four days.
For those who missed it, don’t fear: New Ground was in attendance and has put together a handy roundup of the highlights. Here’s what stood out for us.
Exceptional coffees on display… including the Flat Red
Each year, London Coffee Festival is packed to the rafters with roasters serving a range of increasingly innovative coffees, from new, exotic varieties to never-before-seen fermentation techniques.
This year, some of the best coffees came from roasters based outside of the UK, including Rotterdam-based Manhattan Coffee Roasters and Berlin-based Five Elephant.
Manhattan showcased the upper echelons of specialty coffee, with its “Rare”, “Exceptional”, “Competition”, and “World Class” ranges, which included a hybrid washed Geisha from Guatemala and an SL28 from koji-processing pioneers Forest Coffee.
Radical Roasters, an all-female and non-binary roastery from Bristol, also impressed with its loud branding and colourful brews. Run by Cat Manson, who twice reached the semi-final of the UK Barista Championship, Radical Roasters puts sustainability and social responsibility at the heart of the business.
Meanwhile, Vadym Granovskiy drew crowds on Saturday and Sunday with his Flat Red: a double espresso with freshly squeezed (and steamed) orange and pomegranate juice (pictured). The Ukraine-born barista said it was a delight to serve his own drink after years of visiting London Coffee Festival as an attendee.
“I have been to London Coffee Festival many times… as a guest, a competitor, and even as press,” Vadym told us. “It’s a destination for coffee lovers from all over the world. So it was pretty special to be there as a professional introducing a signature drink that I created in Ukraine in front of a huge crowd.”
Heylo Coffee brewing true innovation
It’s likely you’ve already heard of Heylo Coffee.
The Milan-based espresso machine manufacturer has set the world of espresso alight since launching last year, with its extraordinarily innovative milk and coffee modules that create steamless milk and give baristas complete control over extraction, from temperature to pressure to flow.
Heylo’s stand at London Coffee Festival was among the most striking at the event, not least because of its eye-catching backdrop. Attendees flocked to see the modules in action and find out more about how induction heating can produce piping-hot espresso in just a few seconds.
According to Denes Biro, Heylo’s UK sales director, the technology was of particular interest to specialty coffee roasters looking to offer a full-service package to cafés.
“At the London Coffee Festival, we were showcasing the first five Heylo modules in the UK, so it was quite special for people to see how to use them,” he told us. “It was also an opportunity for us to introduce our Less Guilty map.”
The Less Guilty Map is an interactive guide to some of Europe’s most environmentally and socially responsible coffee companies, including Change Please and Refill Therapy.
A new Coffee Masters champion crowned
Coffee Masters is the latte art, barista, brewers cup, and coffee in good spirits championships all mashed into one competition. Just like in 2022, it was held this year at the London Coffee Festival. It puts baristas’ skills to the test across seven disciplines and, unlike other events, provides them with the same equipment, coffees, and milks to keep things fair.
This year’s competition ran over four days and saw 16 competitors battling it out using beans from Pact Coffee and milk from Trewithen Dairy. The winner was three-time Latvia barista champion, Jānis Podiņš, who won the coveted award and £5,000 prize money after impressing judges.
“This experience will stay with me forever,” Jānis wrote in a post on his Instagram. “What a week it has been… stepping onto the Coffee Masters stage to compete against some of the best baristas in the world. I am incredibly happy with the result and becoming the winner of London Coffee Masters 2023.”
Elektra Coffee showcasing Italian heritage with modern-day tech
For nearly 80 years, Elektra Coffee has been a pioneer of espresso innovation.
The manufacturer, born just a stone’s throw from Venice, first started crafting machines in the 1940s, which became instantly recognisable thanks to their visually striking designs that looked more like sculptures than espresso machines.
At the time, they were marked out not only for their ability to produce superior quality coffee, but as statement pieces wherever they were placed. It’s a tradition that has been carried forward into the 21st century – and something that was evident at this year’s London Coffee Festival.
On display at its stand was the majestic Elektra Barlume, alongside the Verve and Verve Mini espresso machines which cater to home baristas.
Elektra continues to innovate while staying true to its authentic Italian heritage and a commitment to exquisitely designed espresso machines.
This year marked its debut at the London Coffee Festival – but, having recently impressed industry observers with its new semi-automatic, known as the Elektra KUP, we can expect to see plenty more of them over the next few years.