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Elena, AKA ‘JMI Chief Marketing Officer’ at AFCA put in another excellent performance for the team on Friday.

I went along to the trade days of the London Coffee Festival on Thursday and Friday last week to get a feel for what’s happening in the rapidly developing UK speciality coffee industry, (and accompanying healthy, energy snacks; high-end soft drinks; chocolate and hot chocolate). We also wanted to raise awareness about the Saveur de Kivu Congo cupping event (2 June 2015) and the Run Across Congo(24-30 May 2015) and the great producer organisations and their coffees that we’re working with in Twin and the JMI.

Here are a few of my impressions and a few photos to give you more of an idea of the event (NB. I took most of the photos before the whole place was totally rammed with people – quite overwhelming on the senses – booming music in ‘Soho’, acoustic guitar sessions in ‘Hyde Park’, coffee aromas, yelled conversations, coffee grinder demonstrations etc.):DSCN6845DSCN6846

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So much energy, so many people, beautiful designs, barista competitions, quality, quality, quality. It struck me that the ‘quality’ message was very much focussed here on the cup – yes, quality of the beans, but also the extraction, brewing methods, service, and all that goes in to the roasting and barista craftsmanship and serving up the perfect cup of coffee.

If felt like quite a disconnect from the farmers at times as the green bean is transformed to its final destination in the cup through so many roasting, extraction and packaging options, all on gleaming display here.

Except the marketing messages for roasters on beautifully designed, trendy stands were promoting traceability of coffee lots, single-origins, Fairtrade, organic, Rainforest-Alliance certifications, direct-trade. Ultimately, coffee drinkers of expensive, quality coffees are interested in who and what is behind their coffee as well as enjoying a wonderful cup of coffee.

It’s great to see such a passion for coffee right across the supply chain. When it all links up, that’s when it’s truly a transformational, rewarding relationship, for farmers and for roasters and baristas. This is all pretty exciting, as it’s exactly what we’re trying to do in JMI and JMI producers are doing all the right things – investing in quality, certifications, providing full traceability, practicing agro-forestry coffee production, inspiring and unique origins – to connect and be a part of these opportunities.

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Grumpy Mule launched new branding at the London Coffee Festival. Includes single-origin, seasonal coffees.

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Matthew Algie, showcasing ‘hand-roasted single origin filter coffee’

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Ozone Coffee Roasters. Note ‘Cold Brew’ at the back. There was lots of that.

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Falcon Speciality, ‘Collaboration, Community, Change’

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Cold Brew again, and fancy doughnuts

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Alchemy Roasters

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Hessian coffee bags, hessian colour, ‘rustic’, wood – suggest coffee origins: all featured heavily.

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It wasn’t all about the coffee. ‘Growers Cup’ Tea

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Starbuck’s had a prominent stand, showcasing origins.

Main ‘Hyde Park’ seating area.

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Our friends at Divine – looking and tasting great

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