Coffee Culture

Who remembers when take-away coffee came to Edinburgh?  The days when it was the sophisticated (or strange) minority walking down Princes Street with their paper cup rather than brewing a cup of instant back at the office?

Now, of course, coffee isn’t just coffee.  It’s espressos versus lattes.  It’s mochas and macchiatos.  It’s flavoured, it’s iced. Coffee is everywhere.  And today, at Mansfield Traquair, it came home to…ah…roast.

traquair (Copy)The Edinburgh Coffee Festival, the first of its kind, was billed as celebrating the city’s bustling and vibrant coffee scene.  There was certainly a buzz that came from more than the caffeine, as hundreds of coffee-loving, coffee-curious visitors filled the venue.

Mansfield Traquair, resplendent at the bottom of Broughton Street, is stunning in itself, although there was little time or space to admire it today.  Packed with 27 stands, there was everything from artisan coffees, roasters, coffee-making equipment (‘wow, it’s making a magic potion,’ said two small boys of the glowing Syphon Beam Heater) to the alcoholic: coffee-infused gin cocktails and stout brewed with a dash of espresso and the speciality tea providers.

There is, obviously, something better than your favourite coffee (or tea).  And that’s coffee which comes with a slice of excellent cake. Or a piece of fudge or tablet. Or a slab of exotic chocolate. There was no shortage of samples to nibble, and a lot more for purchase – haggis spiced chocolate, anyone?

syphonAs well as a café (something savoury to soak up the sweeties, perhaps) and some live music,  programme of events ran throughout the day. Zoe Hopkins, from Edinburgh’s international charity, Mercy Corps, gave an insight into who, in Guatemala, say, or Colombia, was behind your cup of coffee, and at midday, Gustavo Pardo spoke about the coffee industry past and present, including the rise of the Coffee House and its social impact.

Later on in the afternoon was the all-important lever barista championship – you know, that person who gets your coffee just right – and congratulations to winner, Robi, from Cairngorm Coffee Co.

If there was a quibble, it might be that the £10 ticket was a bit steep.  Had it included a free, full-size cup of coffee, or a little goody-bag, it would have been the froth on the coffee!  Space was very limited too, but that has to be a good thing, right?

You might have thought Edinburgh was already full of festivals, but from today’s reactions, it looks like there is one more here to stay.

The Edinburgh Coffee Festival took place in Mansfield Traquair on Saturday 3rd October and was arranged by Project R Events. (The heading picture is the official logo).



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