In excited anticipation for the Edinburgh Coffee Festival this weekend, I spoke with one of the event organisers, Annie Wheeler, to find out all about the event itself and the organisers behind this wonderful new festival!
Owl Eyes: Who are the people behind the coffee festival?
Annie: There are 4 of us, 3 full time and one part time. We are event organisers based in Edinburgh, our background is in horticulture and agriculture events, with food and drink elements. One of our events is Gardening Scotland. We all love coffee, and although not normally our area of expertise, it is certainly something we’ve learnt a lot about and enjoyed thoroughly through organising this event!
OE: As coffee isn’t something you’re used to working with, how did you come up with the idea for Edinburgh’s first coffee festival?
Annie: We were actually at a Garden Trade show in Birmingham when we got talking to someone about the London Coffee Festival. It’s a really big event down there, ran over 4 days. We thought that Edinburgh was certainly somewhere that deserved a coffee festival. There’s really been a growing interest recently in small, artisan coffee, both from a trading perspective and from a consumer perspective. We thought, why not get the growing coffee community in Edinburgh all together in one place.
OE: I’ve heard the venue (Mansfield Traquair) is really beautiful. How are you making the most of the space?
A: It is lovely; they usually have weddings here so this will be something a bit different for them. In terms of the space, all of the stands are going to be made out of wooden pallets, some around the outside, and others blocked together in the middle. The DJs will be set up on the baldacchino. We’re hoping people will really be able to enjoy the space while the visit all the trade stands that are on offer.
OE: So what can people expect from a day at the Edinburgh Coffee Festival?
A: Well, one thing that we are really exciting about is being able to host the first ever Lever Barista Championship (I asked, and a Lever Machine is just a different kind of coffee machine, but there hasn’t been a competition with this machine before), sponsored by the Roast Den. There will be lots of demonstrations for visitors to take part in; an open cupping demonstration from Artisan Roast and an AeroPress Masterclass from a Scottish Championship Finalist. Edinburgh based Brew Lab will be bringin with them theirCold Brew and Barista Training Bar for people to learn how to put the perfect espresso shot at home. In all, there are over 30 exhibitors with everything from great sweet treats like doughnuts from 12 triangles and shortbread from Pinnies and Poppieseeds, to speciality tea and amazing coffee from places all across Scotland such as Cairngorm Coffee, Mr Eion, Roundsqaure Roastery and Gordon St Coffee.
OE: How important is it to you as event organisers to have fairtrade and ethical coffee on offer?
All of the roasters and traders who are coming along to the festival on the day are small businesses,band knowing where their beans come from is something I think they all take much pride in. Some of our exhibitors have even been to visit the farms where their beans are grown and have seen how they are farmed. This is what makes independently roasted coffee a wee bit more expensive: because the people who are actually supplying the coffee are being paid a fair wage. However, this is definitely something we value and think is worth the price. We are also partenring with Mercy Corps, a charity that work in developing countries with farmers to help them gain the best crop they can by providing them with essential knowledge and simple technology.
OE: Are you hoping to make the Edinburgh Coffee Festival an annual event?
A: Definitely! We hope to take inspiration from the London Coffee Festival and maybe be able to host it over 2 days next year: one day for traders, and the other for consumers and visitors. As the independent coffee industry grows in Scotland, traders will be looking for a space to exhibit. Coffee lovers who are more interested in drinking coffee will have a whole day for experiencing the best coffee that Edinburgh and Scotland has to offer.
OE: And finally, what is your favourite way to have coffee?
Usually as a long black or an americano, with no milk and no sugar. Sometimes though, an espresso martini!
Come along to the Edinburgh Coffee Festival on the 3rd October to try some of Edinburgh’s best coffee and learn a lot more about one of the best drinks to get you through a long stint in the library. Tickets are £8 with a valid student car (£10 for non-student), and the event runs from 10am – 6pm in Mansfield Traquair, Edinburgh. Find out all about the event on their Facebook page, here.