Money for nothing and your coffee for free

A few months ago I found out about a trade show that takes place in London called Caffe Culture and registered for free tickets. The time flew by and it was suddenly time for me to take a day’s holiday from work and to head over to Kensington Olympia for a day of freebies and coffee machine porn topped with a large dose of World Barista Championship excitement and a whole load of free caffeine!

Me and my friend Caz made the mistake of buying a coffee when we first entered the show not realising just how many offers we would have of a free one, and we’re not talking just any old free coffee, every exhibitor is out to show you how good their particular variety of coffee/ grinder/ coffee machine is and will do their utmost to prove it to you by giving away cups of the stuff. Don’t get me wrong we weren’t complaining although I was shaking slightly after my seventh!

We wandered around the show being force fed biscuits, cakes and smoothie samples until we thought we could take no more, being handed bags of freebies willy nilly, and being drawn to the Nutella stall like moths to a flame…

We admired many pretty things…

and saw exciting new products being pedalled 😉 …


We turned a corner and were suddenly found ourselves surrounded by a crowd of excitable men…quite an enjoyable experience if all be told…however they only had eyes for the stunningly beautiful La Marzocco coffee machines, the holy grail of the coffee machine world if you will…! There was a real frisson as they discussed the merits, lusted after and waited in line to get their hands on the beauties. Here is some coffee machine porn for your viewing pleasure…

In between our coffee quaffing I dragged Caz along to seminar by the coffee boys. They really know their stuff about café’s and talked specifically about a recent survey that they’ve been carrying out nationwide to discover what is the biggest challenge that people are facing in their businesses.

The main event of the day, however was not the La Marzocco’s but the World Barista Championship finals. We managed to catch four of the six finalists do their thing…I never knew coffee making could be so competitive…

Each finalist was required to prepare 4 x espresso’s, 4 x cappuccino’s and 4 of their signature coffee, whilst talking the judges through their choices and explaining what they’re doing in a timed period of just 15 minutes. I found it particularly amusing that the competition was set to a soundtrack of the barista’s choice, my personal highlight being the performance by the winner Michael Phillips from the USA. Picture the scene…the crowd grows silent, the digital time display is activated and the 15 minutes begins to tick away, when all of a sudden the music starts up quietly at first….and slowly builds into the instantly recognisable opening guitar riff and dulcet tones of Mark Knopfler singing Money for Nothing. Michael Phillip starts strutting his stuff in the arena whilst still managing to whip up 12 World Championship winning standard coffee’s. 

We watched Scottie Callahan from Australia, who really impressed me with his signature coffee by adding cardamom to his espresso, mixing in some organic sugar cane and topping it with coconut cream mmmm…

and also saw perfromances by Michael Phillips (USA), Stefanos Domatiotis (Greece) and Raul Rodas (Guatemala)…

All in all a very enjoyable, inspiring, caffeine fuelled day out in London!

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