Thursday, 2 May 2013

Adventures at the London Coffee Festival 2013

Last weekend I was in London for the UKBC 2013 Semis and Finals. It was an amazing experience. Reporting on such full-on 3 days would be nigh-on impossible for me to in a short(ish) blog post. So, I'll give you the snippets over the next few days.

My partner, who would rather not have to admit to knowing me (for reasons which will become clear) and I travelled down to London on Friday. We had a lovely Shoreditch coffee crawl (or at least I did. He said I whinged a lot about the walking), and then ended up at the London Coffee Festival, so he could go off for his calibration session (he is a Sensory Judge for the UKBC). Left to my own devices, I had an absolute blast. 

After the heats in Bury St Edmonds and Chester earlier in the year, the Sanremo UK road crew found themselves stuck with me. I don't know how much they were paid to babysit me - but guys, you was robbed!

Look, my very own cloths!

To stay out of trouble, I was tasked with helping Steve clean down the tables and help get the stage ready for the baristas competing for the coveted title. 

 This is Steve

How can wiping tables down be fun? Running for lunches? Getting the baristas to the stage on time? It really helps when you've got great organisers, you work with people with a brilliant sense of humour and you keep moving! Oh...and you love coffee. You've got to love the coffee.

The world of speciality coffee is filled with unusual, dedicated and enthusiastic people. They love what they do and their enthusiasm is infectious. The barista championships are an extension of that love. 

To compete, a barista has 15 minutes to make make 4 espressos, 4 cappuccinos and 4 signature drinks that compliment the espresso he/she has chosen. The barista has to justify their choices, to be professional at all times and to provide a creative way of imparting all of that to some of the most stony-faced judges, the industry can provide. It's a nerve-wracking experience. There's so much that can go wrong, from stage-fright to technical complications and the barista has to roll with it all.  

And when they go through all of that they have the chance of winning one of these:

The trophies, made by Reg Barber

I met so many amazing people and I had such a good time, not to mention drinking some great coffee.

But my most fun moment came when I helped get the trophy table ready. 

At heat 3 in Bury St Edmonds, I did my level best to separate Sanremo Dave from his tamper. It is stamped with the letters: R B. My initials! My argument was that as it had my initials on it, my ownership was without question. He made the rather spurious claim that RB were the mark of Reg Barber who made the tamper and who sponsors the competition, and wouldn't give it up.

I digress. 

I was helping with the trophy table and these gorgeous tampers were being taken out of their boxes, all stamped with R B. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm nothing if not persistent. I was in the midst of making the whole RB argument again, when a deep Canadian voice said from behind me:

"I don't remember marrying you."

It was Reg Barber. Yes, *the* Reg Barber who makes these beautiful tampers. He was lovely and very patient with the crazy, over-caffinated woman.

RB with RB

One day, I will be a barista and I will have one of these beautiful tampers for my own self.


  1. You went on the only day I didn't!

    Glad to see you had fun though :-)


    1. It was great fun. Loved every over-caffinated minute of it!

      Will I see you there next year?



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