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The American

London Coffee Festival by Peter Lawler

W

e Americans think pretty highly of our ‘cawfee’. And I think it’s safe to say we’re known around the world for it. My parents had coffee with most meals. I mean as a drink. With their food. But coffee in America and coffee in Europe are two very different concepts, as I was to find out when I moved to London. I got hooked on macchiatos and moved on to ‘flatties’ with the antipodean coffee revolution in London. How was I to know that the rest of the world regards American java as weak and watery, that the single most tasteless drink that you can get on a Starbucks menu outside of the States is an Americano, or that really strong coffee does not need to taste bitter to be real? It’s been a long and hard road, in which I have ordered many an espresso on visits home in the backwoods of Northeast Pennsylvania, and received many a saccharine, caramel, undrinkable cup of

24 June 2015

syrup. As my coffee tastes change, I have to admit it is hard to equal anywhere in the homeland the standard of finely caffeinated beverages to be had here in London. It is with this refined view of what coffee could be that I attended the annual London Coffee Festival, a celebration of all things java and how far they’ve come here in the capital. From pairings with chocolate to a sense of style to fit the connoisseur, this event is a fantastic multisensory experience to delight your palate and offer you a rich variety of just how far the humble bean has come since London opened its first coffee house back in 1652. The first thing you notice when you enter the festival is how much value you can get out of your entrance ticket, having paid for your two hour slot to meander around the fast-paced and buzzing atmosphere that takes up every inch of the venue of the vast Old Truman

Brewery space on Brick Lane, with trade manufacturers of coffee machines, home grown roasters, coffee companies, musicians, a VIP lounge with delectably strong coffee based cocktails, an astroturfed area to laze, and clusters of stalls crowded with chocolate companies, tea companies and even snack companies looking to promote their wares. My brother made fun of me last summer for seeking out a flat white in the fine independent coffee shops of DC, but this smoothly milky, espresso drink hailing from half a world away really is well worth questing for. But there is no need to hunt at the festival. Baristas with quick and efficient movements stationed behind massive, space age-looking Rancilio and La Cimbali coffee machines like engines set for interstellar travel fall over themselves to offer you a complimentary cup a joe. Independent London based coffee shops get three hour

The American June 2015 Issue 744  

The leading cross-media publication for Americans in the UK - and anyone interested in American culture

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