Sunday, we went to the London Coffee Festival at the Truman brewery. As Dave put it, it was like a beer fest for speed freaks. For the first half an hour or so, we didn’t actually have any coffee, too tempted by all the freebies on offer: various teas, matcha, juice, oat juice, chai latte, popcorn, brownies, fudge, biscotti, muesli bars, chocolate (Green and Blacks did the largest sample sizes), yoghurt, cheese, milk, granita, German fizzy pop
(inc coffee flavoured cola), and hot ginger juice. The big boys of coffee (*$, Costa, Illy, Lavazza et al) were all handing out free samples, but as some of the independents were charging, we had to pick our coffee carefully (I am nowt if not a Doncastrian). I had an Illy, a Vietnamese made with condensed milk, a Columbian filter, an Ethiopian espresso, and a macchiato made with Alpro soya milk which was surprisingly, creamily nice. Then I had to have a camomile tea to calm down, as I felt a bit mental. We looked at coffee art, promised to tell our local stores about sip cups and the oat juice
, talked to a woman from the Goodwood estate about cheese, watched a demonstration of a ROK
, and saw Gwillym Davies
, UK Barista Champion 2009 making Turkish coffee from sand and pear juice (I may have been hallucinating by this point). He made an impassioned speech about how we can stick to our laurels, play it safe, or we can move forward, leave our comfort zone and embrace the new. Coffee we can believe in. People posed to have their photos taken with him. I learned a new word ("updosed").
The caffeine bouncers started clearing the decks at 1 p.m. and we left to go to Rough Trade. I hadn’t heard of any of the bands featured on the listening stations, except for Miss Kittin, who seems to be doing dub in mono rather than techno nowadays, and Frank Turner, and that's only because he’s a dick. Looking at the 15 year old girls trying out different tracks, the boy in the cardigan wandering the aisles, the graffiti from bands on the walls, I felt glad RT still exists, but I didn’t feel part of it any more. Looking at the LP section in Rough Trade I was convinced that American-O referred to coffee and not American bands whose names begin with O.
We meandered through the markets, but I couldn’t wander, I zipped through the crowds. Caffeine concentrates the mind, but only for 10 seconds or so, I couldn’t do anything for very long for the rest of the day.