Last weekend I had the enormous pleasure of being invited along to the London Coffee Festival by Prof Harris to showcase our coffees using his amazing SteampunkCoffeeMachine.
The London Coffee festival is held over 4 days each year in the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane. It is now in its 8th year and has been growing in visitor numbers and size. This year there is expected that up to 40,000 may have passed through the doors and they added yet another floor level this year, giving visitors 4 floors of a cornucopia of coffee to explore and discover.
The first couple of days are industry only days, for businesses to see different trends, find new gadgets and sample latest products. The weekend is then open to the public and to say the atmosphere is buzzing is a complete understatement! The experience is fully immersive and alongside the coffee and paraphernalia there's live music, DJ's, Street-Food & art. Also they hold the Coffee Masters in which Baristas can compete to win a £5000 prize. It is quite simply a coffee lovers paradise powered by caffeine and culture.
I had the huge privilege of being the Barista for the Prof's machine as part of the Mulmar stand, promoting my coffee. As you can imagine, the machine caused a bit of a stir and it didn't take long for groups to gather to take photo's and try the amazing coffee that it produces. One of the main questions I was asked over the weekend was "how does it work?" and many also asked "doe's it actually make coffee?", which of course it does and damn find coffee at that!
Behind the yards of carefully placed spaghetti like copper piping and peculiar paraphernalia, sits a gleaming glass Hario Cold Drip Filter. This is in complete contrast to the antiquated magnificence of the facade, and looks more like something you'd find in a science lab or an episode Breaking Bad than in a coffee shop. However it makes the most outstanding coffee and many commented that it was by far the best coffee they had tasted at the show!
For all the outward complexities it displays, the machine is actually quite a simple process. The skill is getting the ratio of the grind and the drip rate to correlate. It is gravity fed and cold filtered water sits in a reservoir at the top. A valve then controls the flow of the water which drips onto 70g of coarse ground coffee which is sandwiched between 2 x Aeropress filters. As the water passes through, it gently extracts the oils and then deposits the filtered coffee into a glass carafe at the bottom. This process takes 8 hours! Yes.... 8 hours!!! We of course pre-made a batch for each show for people to try.
The result is an incredibly pure and clean tasting coffee that tastes like no other. It is more akin to a single malt whisky or a fine liqueur. It has similarities to Cold Brew but whereas with Cold Brew, the coffee simply sits in water and steeps, with Cold Drip, the water is constantly moving through the coffee and extracts little or no bitterness from the oils.
During the festival we took several single origins for people to try, each highlighting their distinct flavors and tones. The Cold Drip Process is one of the best (if not THE best) ways to appreciate the subtleties in coffees from different origins.
Prof Harris made the first of these magnificent machines for the art zone at the festival a few years back. It caused such a stir he was invited back, and because it actually made an amazing coffee, the machines have been part of the mainstream show ever since. They are also now being used in several coffee shops and he has had several commissions. We were their to promote the machine and my coffee but also we were raising money for Project Waterfall during the festival, who provide clean water supplies to coffee growing communities.
If you love your coffee then you must put the London Coffee Festival in you diary for next year. It is a coffee experience like no other, powered by coffee, caffeine, culture and of course the odd curiosity.