Drawing people to the city: coffee festivals

img_9088While my current research project explores the impact of cafes on different urban communities, I’m also interested in other activities related to the café industry, and the impact these have on different cities. There are a growing number of coffee festivals which have become important events for stakeholders in the café industry, not just for those in the trade in terms of equipment and coffee, but for baristas looking to compete in competitions (which are often held at these festivals), or to find out about new equipment, roasters looking to display their coffee offerings, to consumers seeking to find out more about what’s happening in the coffee world. While these festivals are places where people enthusiastic and passionate about coffee get the immerse themselves in all things coffee, they are about much more than coffee with usually a range of exhibitors and activities related to other food and drinks too.


A few of the most well-known coffee festivals  in the UK include:

coffee-the-most-important-meal-of-the-dayLondon Coffee Festival: next event 6th-9th April 2017

The London Coffee Festival is one of the longest running and largest coffee festivals in the UK, with over 30,000 people visiting in 2016. Taking place in the Old Truman Brewery the festival houses a huge range of exhibitors, from Allpress Espresso to Greencup.  It is also where the barista tournament Coffee Masters takes place where baristas are put through their paces to display their skills in cupping, brewing, latte art, espressos and their own signature drinks and recognising coffee origins. The festival hosts a range of events across several days from barista workshops, latter art competitions, tasting opportunities, and food pairing experiences. My trip around the 2015 London Coffee Festival is shown in a series of posts on my photography blog: Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four. It was a great opportunity to talk to people from across the coffee and café industry from barista champions to suppliers of coffee syrup, and I got to try all sorts of different coffee related drinks. It’s really hard to do this event justice in just one paragraph – I highly recommend having  read through some of the posts on Brian’s Coffee Spot where you’ll find much more thorough descriptions of what goes on.


Manchester Coffee Festival: formerly known as Cup North which has now run for three years and was last held on 5th and 6th November in the Victoria Warehouse. You can see from the programme that a range of events took place alongside the exhibitors including talks, cuppings, tasting championship, latter art classes to a film screening. For a great overview of activities from the 2016 Manchester Coffee Festival see this blog post from the BeanThere blog.

Glasgow Coffee Festival: held in The Briggait with a good mix of both local exhibitors such as Dear Green Coffee Roasters, and those from further afield, as well as a range of workshops and demonstrations

“Visitors are invited to meet coffee professionals, sip and slurp their way around our carefully chosen gathering of roasters baristas, artists, brewers and bars whilst viewing competitions, art, film and photography!  Workshops and presentations are all free to attend, watch national competitions, learn latte art, enjoy a ‘cupping’ experience, upgrade your home brewing kit, all in one day under one roof with all of your favourite coffee bars, beans, baristas and brewers!” Glasgow Coffee Festival


Edinburgh Coffee Festival: Next event 14th October 2017.

In its third year, the growth of this event has meant it will now move to a larger venue, the Corn Exchange with more exhibitors, demonstrations and workshops than in previous years to celebrate Scotland’s blossoming coffee scene. The Edinburgh Coffee Festival has also hosted the Lever Barista Championship where competitors have the chance to demonstrate their espresso skills using the Lever Espresso Machine.

Then of course there is the more trade focused Caffe Culture (23-24th May 2017) held in the Olympia London, this is more of a trade show for those in the café and coffee industries but there is still plenty to entertain a coffee enthusiast. And there are lots of other smaller coffee festivals taking place across the country too, with more appearing each year. Beyond the UK there are plenty of coffee festivals to choose from, including: the World of Coffee (Budapest 2017 13-15th June), Europe’s largest coffee event, an exhibition without over 200 exhibitors, as well as multiple seminars, workshops, competitions (including the World Brewers Cup, World Latte Art championship, and World Cup Tasters Championship) and entertainment; Dublin Coffee and Tea Festival; Amsterdam Coffee Festival; New York Coffee Festival; Tokyo Coffee Festival; Prague Coffee Festival; and Berlin Coffee Festival.


For those interested in coffee, there is literally a world of coffee festivals out there. The SCAE events calendar has details of a whole host of coffee festivals and expos (including those focused more towards the trade as well as consumers). Not only are these events important on the coffee event calendar, and for those who attend, but they are also important for the cities that host them, often attracting visitors to cities which may have a knock-on impact on other surrounding businesses – another spoke in the wheel of the ‘economic impact of the coffee and café industry’.



This entry was posted in Cafe Culture, Coffee, Commentaries, Consumers, Economic Impact, Specialty Coffee, UK, Urban spaces and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Drawing people to the city: coffee festivals

  1. cactusjake says:

    Just a fantastic reminder to get out of the house and to a trade show or coffee event. Thank you. It amazes me to think that these large events started small at some time in the past. All we need is a little courage and some hustle to start a coffee festival of our own to serve our communities- if we’re not in an urban area where they already have them. -Jake


    • Yes, even some of the larger events started out really small. And what I haven’t written about here are all the much smaller tasting events, cuppings etc that go on in so many coffee houses across the country and equally they are really important for the specialty coffee industry too, not only in terms of networking for people already involved in the industry, but for making more people aware of specialty coffee.


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