We visited the London Coffee Festival today in the glorious sunshine and here are top ten observations.
Yes, we’ve heard it a million times but quality ‘craft’ coffee is most definitely mainstream. How else could you explain the early morning midweek cues to get it…and no there wasn’t a beard, sleeve or fixie in there…they must be late risers. It was all normal looking, everyday people who you could spot from a mile off in Shoreditch.
Why is nobody queuing to get into a wine…or tea festival. What is it about coffee that captures our imagination in a way that other very similar products don’t?
People are still trying to crack the ‘instant’ coffee market. There are some really interesting products in this area, but I think they may be missing the whole point about what gives rise to our second point.
The big brands find it very hard to sit side by side with their smaller more challenging competitors. When you sit down to think about why this might be it can hurt your brain, but at the end of the day it’s about the big brands inability to do anything that doesn’t appear to be perfect. The imperfections of the smaller brands are the things that make us warm to them. They are basically more human and for that when they sit next to something less than ‘human’ it feels uncomfortable.
VIP areas suck. At least if you are going to have one, name it something different and don’t make the guy who guards it appear as if standing outside a night club.
For coffee lovers’, accessories are as important as coffee; this is an opportunity that I am not sure the bigger coffee brands have leveraged as fully as they could. The secret here is that the products are credible and that they make getting truly great coffee a better experience, not necessarily more convenient.
Be a geek. This may be part of why point 4 exists. When you just work for a business you may not be hired for your passion and interest in it. When you own or work in a business where you see the impact of decisions you can make or are involved with, it’s hard not to become an obsessive geek.
Snacking has changed beyond recognition…yes this is meant to be about coffee but coffee and snacking go hand in hand. Snacking brands have a lot to learn from what’s happening in coffee and the ones that seem to be resonating the very best have many of the same attributes as the best coffee companies.
There were two types of business on show. Those who clearly valued the power of design and those that don’t.
Finally, as we’ve been banging on about it for long enough, craftsmanship and communities are at the heart of the strong brands of which the ever-growing coffee scene is.
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