Surviving LCF

It's nearly time for the annual London Coffee Festival, I've done it quite a few times and here are some tips for thriving your way through it. 

Surviving LCF

The first time I visited LCF at the Old Truman Brewery, things got a bit overwhelming. It's a busy, bustling environment packed with coffee enthusiasts pushing espresso shots, business cards, and filter brews at you one after the other in a never-ending cacophony of caffeine. At the time, I was helping to run a charity-led vegan café in Bethnal Green, and I had been sent on a research trip. You're probably aware that most coffee shops and restaurants have a close tie to a particular roaster, and while some do exhibit a guest bean, that's really something that has become more prominent in the last 5-6 years in London. So, did I taste a lot of coffee? Yes, but I wasn't legitimately in the market for a new roaster, and this was a formative experience that got me thinking about what I wanted our shop to eventually look like. I was meeting great people and tasting exceptional coffees. I didn't spit, and I hadn't eaten enough, brought any water, or really thought at all about the effect this would have on my body. Needless to say, I got weird and jittery, lost focus, and crashed hard. So, all these years later, how do I approach the London Coffee Festival? I've got a few simple rules:

Spit, Don't Swallow: Just like when you're tasting wines; it might be tempting to quaff the whole thing, but learning a few tasting techniques can mean you get the whole mouthfeel and flavor experience of the coffee without having to ingest it. You'll hear a lot of slurping, and that's okay—it means you get to taste a lot more coffee.

Have a Proper Meal Before You Arrive: I usually head there just after lunch. I'll either grab a burger from Honest or a pizza from Detroit Pizza and some snacks, probably a banana. There's something about the potassium content that reduces caffeine jitters.

Take Your Time: I'm not naturally extroverted, so this amount of social contact exhausts me. There are a couple of bars and street food vendors dotted around the old Brewery, and taking a break and an espresso martini in really helps when you're feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Have a Plan: Although it can be tempting to spend the whole day at the festival, taking in anything and everything you can; I've found that doing a little research before you arrive, deciding what and who you want to see is usually a good idea. It's pandemonium inside, and it's easy to get lost in the flow of the crowd otherwise. You'll miss that talk you were interested in, completely miss the bonkers level of coffee-geekery exhibited at the Coffee Masters events, never find the stand showing off that new piece of coffee kit you wanted to check out, and miss out on meeting some of the brilliant roasters we work with at Brewed.

The growth of LCF mirrors the vibrant evolution of the coffee industry in the UK and that's something to be celebrated. Nestled within the Old Truman Brewery, the festival is a gathering of souls dedicated to the craft of coffee; from the energy of roasters to the meticulous care of baristas, it showcases the collaborative essence that binds our community.

While you will find the old school titans of the coffee industry present at the festival, for me, it's the small businesses that really stand at its heart, embodying the importance of community and the impactful role they play within our neighbourhoods. Local coffee shops and independent roasters are more than just businesses; they're often the hubs of creativity and connection that nourish local economies and foster a sense of belonging.

This year's LCF highlights the symbiotic relationship within the coffee world, where competition is overshadowed by mutual support and shared growth. Our top picks represent this ethos, each a beacon of commitment to excellence and a reminder of coffee's unifying power.

My top picks and thier stand numbers:

- Conscious Coffee (R04)
- La Tostadora (M09)

- Manhattan Coffee Roasters (R03)
- Origin (G24)
- Round Hill (stand G20 with Synesso & the Coffee Lobby)
- Common Coffee (L1 with Stores Supply, or on Saturday for a full takeover at the shop!)

See you there!

Reading next

Coffee Seasonality
Circular Image
Samuel Reed Coffee Buyer

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.