A Trade Show? A Consumer Show? What's the difference?

One of the first asked questions when I've spoken to exhibitors or potential customers is 

so is it a trade show? or for the consumer?

It's something that I'd never really considered when writing the first proposals for the show, obviously I know the difference, a trade show provokes thought of businessmen shuffling around with catalogues and pockets full of business cards as they visit various stands sandwiched between blue felt boards and our pitched by excitable sales staff... It just wasn't what I was trying to achieve. 

It inspired much thought, and conversation in the first few months of planning, as I talked to friends, colleagues and family about my vision and in the end I found myself repeating the following: 

The end customer is the one who calls the shots, if they want something they will track it down, if they don't like something they will go elsewhere. If they ask their local cafe where their coffee is from, if they enquire about the environmental impact of that businesses waste, if they suggest local suppliers, if they ask these questions, the business owner (should) listens.

If we can inspire individuals across the south west to demand higher standards, and seek out those who provide the best quality we will see a change. But how do we get them to do this? How do people working in completely different sectors know what they could be getting, well, we show them.  

Once we've inspired them, the trade will provide, the businesses will respond and we will see a fantastic change. 

So our show, whilst based on building new business to business relationships is focused on the most important element of the chain; the consumer, the end user, the person who pays to keep this whole machine running. 

And so we invite you, if your business has something to share with consumers, if you have a message to get across, if you have a passion to inspire and change the way this cafe culture works and drive it to something better, then join us in August, take a stand, take to the stage, be a part of this incredibly exiting movement. 

Christmas Gift Guide for Coffee Connoisseurs

The festive season is officially upon us, and what better way to celebrate than a Christmas gift guide for the coffee lovers in your life?

Instead of panic-buying at the last minute, take a look at some of our favourite picks for the coffee connoisseur, with a budget to suit everyone!

Chemex 6 Cup Classic, £43

Chemex

Start off with the ultimate trend in third wave coffee at the moment. Brewing delicious filter coffee in a chic glass vessel, the Chemex is bound to impress on Christmas Day.

A bag of Rare Colonna beans, £15

Currently stocking the Hartmann Maragogype, Colonna Coffee prides itself on its most sought-after coffee beans. Convert your friends and family, and they’ll never look back!

Independent coffee guide bundle, £19.99

For the coffee fiend who will travel far and wide for a delicious cup of specialty coffee. The Indy Coffee Guide Bundle has coffee recommendations for Scotland, the South West, the North and South Wales.

Moleskine Passion Coffee Journal, £16.99

Because remembering where you had that incredible cup of coffee is only half the fun with this journal. With sections and tabs for different notes, this is perfect for organising your coffee dreams!

 

And if you’re needing a few little extras for that special someone’s stocking, we’ve got just the gifts!

33 Books Coffee or Tea tasting journal, $5 each

These little beauties are great for on the go, and made from recycled paper, so you can jot your notes as well as being eco-friendly!

Measuring spoon from Barista & Co, £8.95

Measured in single or double shots, this measuring spoon is perfect for the beginner coffee lover. A stylish copper finish means that you’ll have the most fashionable coffee around!

Café Negro Willie’s Cacao, £1.90 per bar

If in doubt, go chocolate. Of course, with coffee included, Willie’s Cacao is delicious and the perfect stocking filler to munch on Christmas Day morning!

Chemex pencil, £7

For the stationery geeks out there, hit up the Chemex merchandise for a fun way of filling that Christmas stocking!

 

So there you have it, our ultimate Christmas gift guide. There are so many amazing coffee gifts to choose from, plus some of our wonderful exhibitors such as Henny & Joes, Littles and Vegware. You can check them all out here. We’re sure you can find something for friends and family, as well as a little treat for you… (hint hint, our tickets are on sale here...

A Weekend in Anglesey

My Parents grew up in North Wales, Far Far Far North Wales, my Mother in a little village outside of Bangor and Father on the island of Anglesey. We went up there a couple of weekends ago to visit my Grandfather, still living in the house my Dad was raised in. I have many memories of running on the beaches in the unspoilt nature, up sand dunes and dashing away from the freezing cold waves. It was a pleasure to return with my own children now and show them the sites, but the sites have changed. 

We didn't take flasks of tea, pack sandwiches or even put a few custard creams in our pockets for the walk by the waves. Instead, we visited boutiques, chain clothing stores, there's a large supermarkets, and of course there are cafes, restaurants, coffee shops, coffee houses, bars, gastro pubs... it goes on. 

My grandfather grumbled when I told him we were going for coffee one morning, 'coming up here, building that thing, charging that price...' it went on. But for me, this great imposition he was describing was my sanctuary. We stayed there for hours. 

The coffee, at best could be described as alright, there were glimpses of the last revolution in coffee; latte glasses and long spoons. As a sat with my family and we drank (a few rounds) I wondered if I should also share in the sadness that the place I had known as youngster was changing, or if in fact I should celebrate the arrival of my culture here on this remote island otherwise untouched by so many fads. 

But as I sit here now and write, several weeks on, I reflect on the conversations I had with my father who I see rarely, and looking through my notebook I find a drawing he did of a caravan as we discussed our next family holiday to Scotland, and doodles he did of my daughters. Whilst the stark glass and steel building distracted the eye from the dunes and sea it was here more memories were made as a family, and so I'm reminded of what can happen over a cup of coffee and I'm warmed and comforted that whilst change comes and touches even the remotest of places there'll always be chance to create memories - and at £2 a cup, I think that's damn good value. 

Free State Coffee's The Espresso Room: A review

On a drizzly, cold morning in search of coffee, nothing shines brighter than The Espresso Room’s glowing sign, promising a caffeine fix. And this was exactly what I was looking for.

As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by enthusiastic, aptly-bearded (the men) and beautiful (the ladies) staff who practically fell over themselves to help me choose the right drink (a classic flat white, if you had to know). The cosy shop was bustling with people having casual meetings or just catching up with friends. For how busy it was, the vibe was chilled and the music relaxing.

The coffee itself was seriously smooth, enough for the uninitiated to enjoy easily but the specialty coffee lovers to give their nod of approval. I noticed options for almond and other dairy alternatives so no-one would have to miss out, which is just another tick in the box!  

The array of cakes made me seriously regret my attempted healthy eating, as they all looked so delicious, and with a delish toast menu, I will definitely be returning for lunch! The décor is fun, with eclectic styling and fabulous artwork on the wall, along with the retro coffee equipment decorating the bar.

What I really loved about this place was that there was such a variety of people there, some choosing to plug in their laptops and work the afternoon away, but others stopping by for a quick coffee. Word has clearly got round that this is the place to be, and personally, with little choice of specialty coffee shops nearby, it is no surprise. 

The Espresso Room
Artwork in The Espresso Room
Machinery at The Espresso Room

A Weekend in Manchester

This weekend my wife and I packed an overnight bag and headed up to Manchester for the newly named Manchester Coffee Festival (previously Cup North). For those of you who haven't been to a coffee festival I'd thoroughly recommend it (tickets for ours can be bought here) but this isn't meant to sell tickets, but encourage everyone to submerge themselves in their passions. 

Coffee & the culture around it has been my passion for years, and with a tote bag on my shoulder and a paper band around my wrist we entered into Victoria Warehouse, from the moment you walk through the door the smell of coffee is staggering, the sound of grinders whirring, steam arms buzzing and from the distance depths you hear the unmistakeable slurps of people cupping of course. 

Then there is the baristas, the roasters, the bakers and more... the people at coffee festivals are incredible, fonts of knowledge in their field, passionate about their product, and well let's face it... it's not hard to like someone giving you coffee in exchange for a chat, an email address or a business card. 

What follows is a few days of post-festival blues - coffee style. It takes a few days to process every conversation you had their and then start emails and phone calls and those connections made in a moment become partnerships. 

We met some fantastic people in Manchester, and look forward to long friendships with all of them.

French Toast recipe: Breakfast, but better.

French toast recipe

Nothing says a lazy Sunday morning like breakfast in bed. Especially when that breakfast consists of sweet, maple syrup-drenched French toast with a side of rich, fresh coffee. Luckily for you, this is much easier to make than it sounds.

Ingredients:

6 chocolate chip brioche fingers (you can make these yourself… but come on, it's Sunday!)

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste / contents of 1 vanilla pod

1 cup of almond milk

2 teaspoons of neutral oil for frying (We love Coconut oil for this!)

Maple syrup/chocolate sauce (for drizzling)

Method:

  1. Beat together your eggs, cinnamon, milk and vanilla paste until combined
  2. Slice your brioche fingers in half, lengthways and dip into your egg mixture
  3. Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium-high heat and add your oil
  4. Once you can feel the heat of the hob through the pan, add your brioche fingers
  5. Fry until golden brown on both sides
  6. Drizzle maple syrup or chocolate sauce over (liberally… if you're us)

Serve these with your favouritefresh coffee, we love Littlestones or, if you're in a hurry, Roastworks Nespresso Pods are delicious, too! Then you're all set for a long and lazy Sunday morning.

Surprise a loved one with this and gain brownie points in this process!

The Journey Begins...

At 18 I spent some time in Italy, an experience I often look back on, I'd already been working as a barista for a couple of years so it wasn't here that my love of coffee begun, but it was here that I discovered for the first time Coffee Culture. Coffee wasn't regarded as a treat or a luxury, espresso was a way of life. Wherever you went coffee was made with love and effortlessly. It was part of their culture, history and lifestyle. I was determined to make it mine.

The Coffee Festival has been devised to share what I've spent the last decade discovering myself; the small independent roasters tucked away in garages and sheds across the south west, the larger businesses supporting and shaping the swarms of cafes, bars, restaurants and seaside serverys that feed and caffeinates the millions of tourists that visit each year, as well as to celebrate the unsung heroes of the industry from the people who make paper cups to those who take waste grounds away. 

Whilst it's a leap of faith, and into the relatively unknown, I'm confident that the South West has been calling out for an event such as this. The people who've joined me to organise and pull off this momentous task are filled with equal passion and the exhibitors who've signed up are of the highest quality. It is, and I say this without doubt, due to be a festival filled with enthusiastic and passionate people and a platform to build long lasting relationships with those that will inspire you on your own coffee journey and allow you to discover this fantastic culture for yourself. 

I look forward to seeing you there,
Derry

What we know so far

So you may have heard that the inaugural South West Coffee Festival is taking place between the 4th-6th August 2017.

And if you haven't heard, then where on Earth have you been?!

We already have some of the coolest names in coffee and café culture lined up, and you can find the full list here

For our first year, the festival will be held at Powderham Castle. This fantastic venue means that there will be plenty of space for our wonderful exhibitors.

Tickets are now on sale, so you can head over here to either buy them online or ring up.