It seems it wasn’t just me that got totally and utterly confused by the location of the London Coffee Festival over the weekend. I was sent an email by La Cimbali, one of the main sponsors and the email mentioned that the stand would be in Hyde Park. What I didn’t realise was that this meant the Hyde Park ‘Zone’ in the Truman Brewery, East London.
It was a bloomin good job that I phoned to ask which entrance of Hyde Park I should use before I got on the tube, otherwise I wouldn’t have been going at all! I’m sure the lady on the other end of the phone had a right giggle when she got off the phone to me. Then I found out that a few of my fellow Tweeters had had the same confusion. The website didn’t exactly make it much better!
Confusion aside, we arrived on Saturday morning for the brunch session. I felt a bit cheated as we were greeted to an empty stage – despite seeing a whole host of faces shining out from us on the leaflet that we were handed outside the venue. Never mind, we didn’t go for the music, we went for the coffee.
The Truman Brewery, for anyone who hasn’t been, is a large warehouse in East London that is quite often used for events. The various stands were set out in three rooms, or ‘zones’ as they were called. The leaflet also promised food samples and as we headed to the brunch session, we expected some brunch style foods to be available. After one lap around the festival, we were sadly disappointed. Hog roast, chicken in ciabatta and cakes a plenty but nothing that we wanted to eat for breakfast.
So we decided to visit the La Ciambali stand and then go to Albion for a more substantial breakfast. When we arrived at the stand, we were greeted and treated to a demonstration of their beast of a coffee machine, the M39HD. We learned a few technicalities of the machine – how it can be programmed to change pressure throughout the brewing to create a fantastic espresso and it was really very interesting.
The machine is part of a new wave of technology that allows the barista to programme the machine to brew a more intense and flavoursome espresso. The trick is the pressure. Most machines brew the coffee for 25 seconds at 9 bar of pressure. The beast changes the pressure throughout brewing time in order to get the most flavour out of the coffee. The cycle runs like so – 1 bar for 3 seconds, 12 bar for 10 seconds, 8 bar for 7 seconds and 4 bar for 5 seconds. Sweetness falls at the middle point of the brewing time and is the hardest part (albeit most delicious) to extract, therefore needs a much higher pressure to do so. The last part of the brewing process tends to be the bitter tasting part, therefore the pressure is reduced to keep the bitterness out.
The man who was demonstrating the machine for us showed us the difference between an espresso brewed at 9 bar throughout and the changing pressures througout. The result was quite fascinating. The first was watery and pretty bitter – the second was very strong but sweet and intense, much more delicious.
The coffee that they used was from Nude Espresso across the road on Hanbury Street, a cafe that has become a hit in it’s own right from roasting their own delicious coffee beans.
We were then treated to a coffee of our choice (I went for a Flat White) and it was delicious. I was intrigued to hear how much the machine cost (just shy of £10k) but it was interesting to hear that you can get a smaller version for your home for around £2k. That might sound expensive to some but just think about having that amazing coffee whenever you want it! The coffee machine that I have at home may look good but it doesn’t make a good cup, therefore it gets neglected.
I purchased the The London Coffee Guide before leaving to enjoy my day in the warm London sunshine.