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4 things I learned at the MCR Coffee Festival

The MCR Coffee festival was on this weekend and I visited on Saturday to see what what was going on. There was so much excellent coffee – I had about 8 espressos and will be laying down all week to get over it but there was also some really knowledge coffee brewers and traders on display. Here’s four things I learned…

 1 – The cost of coffee

Throughout the festival there was a real emphasis about giving the attendees a wider knowledge of where your coffee comes from and how the farmers process the coffee before it reaches the roasteries to be turned from raw beans into a beautifully roasted coffee ready to be grounded up for your next brew.

There were excellent talks from Bruna Costa (From Kamba Coffee)  which gave a reminder of the supply chain and how we can best support farmers and producers by giving continued support to them, talking about what we are enjoying from them and being brand champions for our favourite suppliers on social media – which is a great practice to get into for all the indies we love across the hospitality industry!

2 – Production methods vary

When I spoke to Marcus from North Star Coffee Roasters, he told me all about the different production methods that can be used to take the coffee from fruit to bean. I tried their Ethiopian Natural coffee and ended up taking a bag of it home it was so good. There are 3 main types of coffee production;

Washed CoffeeIn the washed process, beans are completely de-pulped, removing all of the fruit. Then they are soaked and allowed to ferment for 12 to 72 hours before being washed clean of any remaining fruit and dried. This method is probably the most common for preparing green coffee beans.

Natural Processed Coffee
This is the most traditional process method. In the natural or dry process, whole coffee cherries are left to dry in the sun, leaving the fruit on the bean, allowing it to “raisin-ify” around the bean. Fermentation occurs resulting in the creation of complex flavors and sugars. This is a longer process than other methods, which can add costs to the production.

Honey Processed Coffee.
Pulped natural or honey process is a method in which the fresh coffee cherries are de-pulped, but allowed to dry without washing. Some fruit is still there, but not as much as in the natural process. Most of the cherry is gone, but the remaining fruit breaks down until it’s golden and sticky which is where the process gets its name.

3 – Milk alternatives are popular

Plant based alternatives had a strong showing over the weekend with Oatly & Minor figures both having stalls in the festival and featuring as great cows milk alternatives on most stalls. Minor Figures have committed to being 100% carbon neutral and outlined their process to achieving that goal here.

Vegware were also around as one of the main sponsors for the festival, they spoke about using renewable, lower carbon, recycled or reclaimed materials in the industry, to tackle the use of single use plastics.

4 – Indies do great coffee (but we already knew that)

The festival was choc-a-bloc with amazing independent speciality coffee producers from Monkeyboard Coffee, Indigo Coffee Project and Factory Coffee Manchester who were making their 1st appearance at a festival of this kind to roasteries like Salford Roasters, Ancoats Coffee Co alongside old favourites, Grindsmith, Takk and our friends Bold St Coffee.

It was great to see other areas of the country represented too like Outpost Coffee (Nottingham) Darkwoods (Marsden) South Coast Roasts (Winchester) and a few up from London with the LDN Mission Coffee Works and Gentleman Baristas.

It was especially good to talk to the people at the Independent Coffee Guide and pick up their guide to the north, the midlands and north wales, it’s a fantastic thing to flick through if your off and about in a new town and don’t want to suffer through drinking a litre of burned coffee served by a green mermaid from seattle…

*Credit to MCR Coffee Festival for the image

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