This year was my first time attending the EU Coffee Expo at Olympia and it was a great event. The innovations on display blew me away, a lot of industry experts developing their offers and showcasing them to the trade.

One of my favourite exhibitors was the Cold Drip Company from the Netherlands, using a Asian drip machine to craft delicate tasty cold coffee.

The staff running the stall were enthusiastic and inviting, happily telling me why they had chosen the cold drip rather than cold brew and how they came to be at this point with their business. Not only is their branding and product brilliantly delivered but they were innovating with their flavours and pairings. I was particularly fond of their Yigracheffe Cold drip, paired with ginger ale which was a wonderfully complimentary combination and something I wouldn’t have been daring enough to try on my own.

There was a big push towards sustainability at this show, with exhibitors showing new sustainable products and working towards a closed circle process. Where coffee grinds were being discarded, these are now recycled. The oils are separated for secondary use, and the grinds compacted into logs to use on a fire. These types of sustainable innovations will lead to us to waste less and reuse all parts.

Butterfly Cups were exhibiting their lidless cups that work in a series of folds from the top, these are fully biodegradable and recyclable. They are really in. These are the start of innovations that we will see boom in the near future as we work towards having plastic-less work places, fully recyclable materials and eliminating waste.

I had time to speak in length with some of our working partners at Bewleys who were discussing several new ideas that we could bring to Perkee coffee. We looked at how we can build a retail offer where we hold classes to help our customers create the perfect cup of coffee at home. Creating an atmosphere of informed, enthusiastic coffee lovers who will encourage us to learn more and bring more to their ‘Coffee Club’

I think it would be brilliant to work in a cafe where the customers are as well informed as the staff and push their own innovations and ideas. I think this culture around coffee and brewing would be a great atmosphere to work in, empowering our staff to create high quality product and increase their own working knowledge. As the industry develops so are our customers, becoming more aware of coffee knowledge, importance of its origin and sustainability.

I was very interested to see the TopBrewer, which is a table top brewing tap that can do a range of drinks from milk based coffee, to filter and more. It is a clean, sleek table top tap and takes away many of the barriers between the Barista and the customer.

It is an innovation on the traditional bean to cup machine, taking a lot of inspiration from the mod bar espresso machines, concealing the brewing equipment underneath the bar. The newer models can work on several different beans allowing a lot of choice.  Once you have selected your drink, you can then go further into detail, adjusting dose, volume of milk and temperature, all whilst creating a crisp tasty espresso.

These types of machines would be great in a busy office environment, taking away the need for Barista to create the drinks and allowing a greater freedom in choice when it comes to drinking your coffee. These machines would also be great for customer interaction when brewing coffee, allowing time and space to interact without the Barista having to focus on creating the coffee.

I thoroughly enjoyed my first experience of the EU coffee expo, interacting and talking with top industry experts who share my enthusiasm for great coffee and how we get that to the customer. As the industry grows and develops you can see these new themes and ideas gaining traction and becoming a much larger part of the industry. Cold brew coffee is a great example of this; the initial product came to market in a big way last year and is now being developed, with people creating their own niche or variation on the cold brew, innovating with new brew methods, pairings, development and more.

I look forward to many more shows to come over the next year.

Theo Pearson.