Walking into the beautiful Mansfield Traquair on Saturday morning, I was hit by the most amazing smells of freshly brewed coffee. After being given free fudge on the way in (always a great way to start an event!), we were handed a map illustrating all of the different stands on offer, with information on the various events and talks running throughout the day. For the student entry price of £8 , there really was an opportunity to pack as much into your day as possible, fueled by the endless coffee samples being handed out.
There was an extensive mix of stalls, with everything from coffee machine manufacturers to roasters and cafe owners alongside gin, fudge, doughnuts, marshmallows and cakes galore! As we wandered around, the bearded-baristas, bakers and businessmen running the stands were unbelievably friendly, handing out free tastes of their coffee and chatting to us about their products. They all had a genuine passion for their coffee and a real interest in telling us all about it.
In terms of atmosphere the festival certainly felt busy and vibrant, despite our early arrival. I’m unsure having a live DJ really added to the event; potentially a relaxed jazz band or a really good playlist would have been enough. Nevertheless, the music was stopped during the informative talks and demonstrations throughout the day meaning visitors were able to give them their full attention: definitely a wise move. There was a nice raised seating area at the back of the venue for those who wanted to relax and sit down whilst enjoying a coffee and a doughnut. Mansfield Traquair is a spectacular venue and the festival’s layout did not detract from it’s beauty at all. Having the stalls made out of wooden pallets created a really good vibe and the beautiful wall murals and ceiling of the hall worked well in contrast to the rustic feel of Edinburgh’s inaugural coffee festival.
Personal highlights of the day included the baked goods from Jane Dough, Pinnies & Poppieseeds and Twelve Triangles who were showcasing their amazing doughnuts, shortbread and brownies. We tried a few different coffees but the ones that stood out in particular were Atkinsons coffee, a company from Lancaster who supply several cafes in Edinburgh; Cairngorm Coffee, who were selling their Mr Eion blends alongside some great t-shirts, and Alfie Coffee, a small company from Glasgow who pride themselves in their “healthy, natural and drum roasted coffee”. We bought a bag of their ‘Guatemala Gold blend’ which we opened as soon as we got home and the kitchen still smells utterly amazing!
For me, the best aspect of the whole day, aside fromall of the great free coffee and baked goods, was the opportunity to find such a variety of small coffee and food businesses under one roof. Supporting small businesses is important and although there’s often a wee bit more of a cost, the brilliant products and personal service from someone who really cares about what they are selling is definitely worth it! Moreover, artisan coffee companies are passionate about ethical and sustainably sourced coffee so you, as a customer, know that those at the very start of the chain are getting the fairest treatment possible.
The organisers of Edinburgh Coffee Festival were able to bring experts and fans alike together to share their appreciation of coffee, and I hope that for next years event they are able to expand and get even more people involved!