What’s brewing in the coffee industry?
Who’d have thought that coffee would grow to be such an important part of our daily lives? Coffee is my crutch and if you’re reading this, it’s probably yours too! It’s the catalyst that takes me from the land of the dead in to the land of the living in the morning and the rocket fuel to fire me through to the afternoon.
Coffee is everywhere. And it doesn’t take a genius with an impossibly high caffeinated IQ to realise that our palate and expectations are changing, making what constitutes a good cup of joe highly subjective. The frothy cappuccino? The smooth flat white? Wet? Dry? Even the type of milk used can alter the experience. The possibilities are endless.
Being a coffee aficionado, you can imagine how excited I was to be given the opportunity to attend this year’s London Coffee festival in the heart of Brick Lane, East London.
On arrival, the one thing that surprised me the most was how the current trend for health and wellness has been woven into our love for coffee. We know that society is focusing on the impact we make on our health and environment as people adopt vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian diets. The London Coffee Festival was full of new coffee innovations but what stood out the most, was the increase in dairy alternatives.
Soya, oat, almond and Kefir were all present and accounted for. There was even a plant-based latte blend in a variety of great natural colours and flavours, that could be mixed with water and enjoyed at home. Whilst there wasn’t a huge amount of information about why you should switch to a non-dairy milk, one brand took a particularly aggressive stance against traditional milk which made me wonder if it is right to attack Dairy farmers in this way. Should we be supporting, rather than criticising them. Something to definitely think about.
Competition for which milk alternative best complements the mastery of coffee making was huge! Talented baristas were creating the most wonderful images with coffee and foam, with Almond milk featured heavily by the baristas in the know. When I questioned the specialists further, they all said there was something in the texture and smoothness that made Almond milk a dream to work with, and from a flavour profile, a perfect match for coffee.
Hot coffee, is a necessity for both times to relax, enjoying its richness and aroma, but also for times when you need a boost and an energy kick. There are, however, alternatives where coffee can offer you more than this.
Coffee as a refreshing drink is very up and coming in the form of the cold pressed product that we are seeing in our supermarkets and high streets. We are used to using heat to extract flavour, but with cold coffee it is time which helps to creates a more refined flavour. Where this process becomes even more elaborate is through the Cold Drip brewing process, where iced water slowly drips into the coffee and slowly permeates through in the form of a super refined product.
The flavour profile is so unique that it even mimics some of the underlying flavour attributes of whisky and other alcoholic drinks. So much so, that the product is recommended to be mixed with tonic and consumed in less of a homely coffee shop environment, and instead in the garden enjoying the sunshine. A refreshing alcohol alternative for sure.
I was also amazed to see products such as Kombucha, Apple cider vinegar and kefir widely promoted at the festival. This was no doubt to align with the ‘Gut Health’ key trend that we are all starting to take more seriously. They say that our immune system starts from our stomachs, so if we take better care of our gut health, we will be better protected from illness. One brand I came across was called Unrooted, which originated from an ancient tribal recipe using the Baobab fruit. This fruit is rich in prebiotic fibre and vitamin C but also delivered a natural energy boost without caffeine.
These coffee alternatives had a freshness to them, and as a drink that isn’t too sugary, can be enjoyed regularly as part of a healthy diet. Will the nation soon be casting their cafetiere aside and reaching for a gut friendly alternative as an elevenses re-energiser?
Today, we have access to so many amazing products and brands that deliver the energy we need to get us through our hectic lives. From the most refined and considered varieties of coffee and processes to the alternative magic that mother nature produces.
The challenge now lies for brands to communicate their product benefit in a way that consumers from all demographics can understand. We should feel inspired and empowered to make better choices with the products that we buy, especially when it comes to coffee and that coffee drinking moment, a moment that we embrace in so many different ways every single day.