It was a treat for the taste buds to visit this year’s Caffè Culture show at London’s Olympia.
Billed as the ‘UK's premier cafe bar event’, I was expecting a corporate affair of big-name retail brands and cafe chains. In fact, I found a host of home-grown, artisan companies busy innovating away in the cafe sector.
There's obviously a real demand for healthy, organic and functional products in this area. From spiced hot ginger drinks from Belgian company Ginger Love and fruit coffee to 2012’s major breakthrough drink – coconut water – it was great to see innovation in flavours, branding and bespoke products.
Perhaps the chocolate ‘doner kebab’ was a little on the strange side, but The Grown Up Chocolate Company certainly made up for it with its range of chocolates for the more discerning consumer, including a delicious salted peanut edition.
There was also a strong emphasis on green packaging, with companies such as Keepcup with its funky, reusable cups in sizes to suit all types of coffee, and Enviropack with a full range of reusable and recyclable products, which consumers are now demanding more of.
Tea was a standout sector for me, with some great-looking brands and innovations. One company, Jeeves & Jericho, has designed a range of blended and flavoured teas around a graffiti-style logo, which will really appeal to the younger consumer. According to managing director Dominic Boyett, the brand is unsurprisingly proving very popular in my (and urban artist Banksy’s) hometown of Bristol.
Other exciting brands included Sri Tea, the Tea Shed with its silk pyramid tea bags, Tea Pigs, Edinburgh-based Eteaket and Teascent with a great range of Oolong teas from China.
Visitor and exhibitor numbers were reportedly up on 2011. I will certainly be boosting the figures next year, heading back to see which new innovations are making a breakthrough in the sector.
Hannah Oakman is editor of Cooler Innovation magazine. Subscribe here.
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