Ten take-homes from the 2016 London Coffee Festival


We attended The London Coffee Festival at the old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane last week, to take a look at the latest coffee shop trends encompassing food, drink and design. Here are our top 10 take-homes:

  1. Cold brew coffee (i.e. coffee brewed cold) is now most definitely a ‘thing’, with a number of coffee brands offering their own take on it. It’s a trend that has been brewing for a few years now and is still niche. However, the emergence of a cold press coffee liqueur (Mr Black) and a cold brew cacao (Doisy & Dam) suggests that ‘cold brew’ as a production process / marketing term continues to gain momentum.
  1. Much premium coffee packaging design relies on the ubiquitous brown or black packet. That means coffee roasters who jump out of the bag achieve real standout on shelf. In this regard, we like the use of a white box by La Cabra and hot chocolate brand Mörk’s cardboard tubes (see photos, below).
  1. Tea and hot chocolate are learning from coffee. It’s telling that there were so many tea, chocolate and hot chocolate brands at the leading UK coffee festival. As the speciality coffee market has become crowded, the natural next step is for tea and hot chocolate to learn from premium coffee’s recent success story.
  1. One of the most significant anecdotes tea-wise, is that Starbucks’ large stand was entirely devoted to promoting its Teavana premium tea brand which it will be selling through UK stores. As Starbucks is the biggest coffee shop business in the world, others in the world of hot beverages should take note.
  1. Is it time to rethink the wayfinding in the typical supermarket coffee aisle? Supermarkets have puzzled over flavour profiling in the cheese and wine aisles in the past. With so many coffee brands talking about the flavour profiles of different beans now, is it now time to start thinking about categorising the many different coffees available on shelf, by flavour?
  1. It’s significant that dairy brand Rachel’s is a show sponsor. Considering how much care and attention is spent on sourcing and talking about coffee beans, surprisingly little time is spent on sourcing and talking about the milk used for coffee-making. The likes of McDonald’s and Pret a Manger talk about their use of organic milk, so why do more coffee shops not talk more about the milk they use?
  1. We were interested to see (and try) a few different ways of drinking coffee at the festival. Booze brand Baileys was marketing its use as a coffee-based cocktail ingredient heavily. Meanwhile, we particularly enjoyed a refreshing drink made using espresso coffee, tonic water and mint. It opens up a world of possibilities for cross-merchandising in stores – whether it’s a coffee shop or a supermarket.
  1. We were excited by the variety of flavours being used for flavouring coffee as well as other products that might be sold in a coffee shop. Highlights included rose syrup from Café Borówka, Doisy & Dam’s quinoa, smoked tea & vanilla chocolate bar and Kitsch’s rhubarb & Thai basil soda. Meanwhile, Square Mile Coffee was pushing the boundaries with a sourdough bread made with ground coffee beans and a ‘chocolate’ bar made with dried coffee cherries instead of cocoa beans.
  1. The artisan coffee revolution (for want of a better term) has always been about more than just selling coffee, inspired as it has, a whole cultural movement. Providing further evidence of this, the renowned Ozone Coffee Roasters has produced its first premium magazine, on sale for £5. Such a move should work to forge a deeper relationship with its core customers and underline the premium nature of its brand.
  1. The standard of coffee cup design is high. If you want to stand out, then be bold – the cup is a key marketing tool for any coffee shop operator.


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