South West Coffee Festival – by Lauren Heath


COFFEE – a need for some (a drug, some might say), a taste sensation for others. A pick me up, a relaxer, a wake up call, a bedtime warmer. Some like it hot, some like it cold – I’ll have it any which way as long as it’s not instant. Whatever your want or need, the options that are available for coffee lovers now is reaching those of ale or wine – dry, smooth, fruity, dark and more readily available in beans, grounds, bag or pod.

A new event was on the horizon to showcase this delightful drink. We’d known about the South West Coffee Festival since early in the year and I was very intrigued by what it would become – I knew it would be a boutique size event but wasn’t sure about who or what I would discover that I didn’t already know about – turns out quite a bit actually.

I did not see some of the more local coffee producers I had expected to, which I guess is a good thing as it’s always great to find something new. The event was held in a lovely barn at Powderham Castle, with plenty of room for hovering, manoeuvring and sipping coffee.

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I was delighted to discover Littlestone Coffee Roasters – a young team who are based right here in Exeter, in Marsh Barton, and who served me a strong and fruity Rubanda. They had at least 3 more types of coffee on offer.

Having heard of a chai latte, and assuming it was tea related, I have never drunk any (I like tea, but nothing more than a great strong builders brew, not these flower powery sorts of good for you teas..). So I was impressed and surprised to like Bath based Henny & Joe’s chai that was served as a milky drink – it was slightly vanilla, with all the flavours and spices perfectly balanced. I was given a bottle of the chocolate one to try at home and I look forward to giving it a road test!

Great things were on show from ecoffeecup with their natural, reusable bamboo based travel cups in a vast array of exciting designs and colours! More and more coffee shops are allowing you to use your own coffee cup, even giving a slight discount off your latte, in order to bring down the volume of cups going to landfill. These will make a great purchase for yourself or as a gift and I know they sell them in Toot Garook on Queen Street, Exeter (opposite the RAMM).

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Another sustainable and innovative stand was vegware based in Edinburgh; this company are manufacturing all sorts of takeaway packaging including beautifully defined coffee cups, all from plant based materials, that are compostable as well. I was so impressed by the visual quality too – all competitively priced versus the terrible non recyclables like polystyrene. Anyone in purchasing for large stores or restaurants and takeaways please do have a look at this company and consider using them instead.

Speaking of sustainable – I also met a lovely couple from Dorset who own Eco Roast as well as Flaming Dorset Coffee Roasters. Now, apart from their eye catching branding on their Flaming packaging, and their knockout nitro coffee, what was more interesting was how, as part of Eco Roast, they collect the coffee grounds from the companies they supply, and use this as energy to fuel the grinding of further coffee! Thanks to these ethics, clever ways, and zero waste, they supply The Eden Project with their coffee as well as it being available to customers in their retail outlet.

Still in virtual Dorset, Conker Spirit were popular, offering their gorgeously smooth and very satisfying cold brew coffee liquer – certainly a tipple worth having at home. My son took advantage of the cool chair for a rest.

Back to a Devon supplier, and Owens Coffee Roasters did the trick with a smooth flat white to finish off my visit – the boy even got a ‘babycino’. I was even more pleased to notice a bottle of Urban Brew Coffee Stout on their stand – a combination of talents between Owens and Summerskills Brewery – so I snapped one up and it’s awaiting its fate this weekend.

There was a couple of stands I didn’t get to and that was only due to having enough coffee (even by my standards) and the fact my naturally high child (no need for caffeine there!) had had enough after an hour and 15 minutes. There was cupping demo’s, some Q & A’s and music to be enjoyed too. Here’s a full list of who was there – do check them out, discover something new and support these great coffee artisans, whether from Devon or further up the country.

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Overall, a great little event that was small enough to be personal and you could really chat with the stands. Organised by Derry Tydeman, the owner of The Glorious Art House Cafe – the website already alludes to next year’s event – so watch this space!

Traders, potential sponsors or general public – sign up for further info on 2018’s event here.

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Author: laurenheathpa

PA & Office Manager, Exeter PA Network member. Co-Editor & Food Writer for Eating Exeter, occasional Restaurant Reviewer for Crumbs Magazine Devon, major all round foodie. All my photography using the latest Samsung smartphone. Hospitality background, wife to The Lost Chef and mum to 1.

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