When I was in London last summer I was fortunate enough to be in town when the Coffee Common folks returned from the TED conference and held their first public event. It was an opportunity to see what all the fuss was about, and to meet a few people I’d only chatted with on Twitter up until that point. At the time I had planned to write a post with feedback and comments about the experience, but since then Coffee Common has staged a few more events and they seem to be evolving and improving on the concept each time.
I came away from Coffee Common thinking it had potential to be a sort of para-specialty coffee association; a consumer-oriented and rigorously quality-focused black box pushing the public conversation around coffee forward in a way that more inclusive and less agile organizational bodies cannot, and for which individual companies may not want to do all the heavy lifting.
Enjoy the photos below of this first public event, and feel free to chime in with your own experiences or opinions! I’m also adding a few pictures from my travels around London, hope you find them interesting :)
The room got quite packed, and those that turned out seemed pretty enthusiastic. The massive amounts of caffeine added to the enthusiasm. I spent 20 minutes chatting with an investment banker who, despite having just tried Tim Wendelboe’s Tekangu, was still steadfast in exclaiming Monsooned Malabar as his ideal coffee. This is the challenge an organization & event like Coffee Common has to face.
Little cups made their way back through the crowds, attendee-to-attendee, accompanied by as much of the barista’s explanation as could be remembered: which coffee it was, who roasted it, and how it was prepared. It encouraged interaction with people around you which is always good, and a lot of stories were shared about how we came to be at such an event. For many that I talked to it was through coffee and food blogs, or from being regulars at specialty-focused cafes.
Bek Freeman, James Hoffmann (World Barista Champion, 2007 and co-owner of Square Mile coffee), and Tim Styles on the bar.
Hoffmann the passionate teacher.
Kalle Freese doing his thing.
Anthony Benda, of Cafe Myriade in Montreal.
Gwilym Davies, the gracious host (and 2009 World Barista Champion). With all these people in his bar he was running around making sure everything was running smoothly, even handing out drinks on a tray.
Sangho Park pouring a stunner just for the fun of it, always above par.
Being world class requires a lot of elbow grease. The beers aren’t popped until the equipment is clean and in proper shape.
There was a lot more to the event happening down stairs with limited space, but given that I’m already a coffee geek I didn’t want to take a spot from someone that might be checking things out for the first time. For more you can see the posts on Coffee Common’s blog.
Overall it was a fun time with an eclectic crowd and lots of delicious coffee. If a Coffee Common event ever happens in your area it’s worth checking out if you’re curious.
Now, I didn’t just do coffee while I was in London; I managed to fit in some sight seeing and made sure to capture it on camera. Here’s a little taste of London:
The iconic London Tube. No subliminal messaging intended with that Economist advertisement in the background ;)
The Tate Modern. I found it to be a bit underwhelming, but the space was interesting. Too bad there weren’t any exhibits in the large hall while I was there.
St. Paul’s cathedral.
Westminster Palace & Big Ben
Ministry of Defense, looking like a caricature of itself.
London doing its best Orwellian impression.
10 Downing Street and guys with submachine guns.
Can’t wait to visit London again!