Bath’s bright and buzzing coffee festival, 2011

I enjoyed this year’s Bath Coffee Festival more for the atmosphere than the exhibitors.

As usual, some of the big names in coffee were there, such as Lavazza and Taylors of Harrogate, but there was also a sense of fun that seemed missing last year, possibly because of 2010’s wet weather.

This time, the balloons were aplenty, the sense of energy was fantastic, and the expanded exhibitor space helped to make the festival ‘buzz’ on a par with some of the excellent coffee samples.

Emsal Leo & Chris Steele I met relative newcomers Romwa Coffee quite early in the day, talking to Chris Steele and Emsal Leo about the company’s Thai Arabica coffee, which is cultivated by small communities living close to the Golden Triangle (the borders of Thailand, Laos and Burma), an infamous region known for opium production. The Royal Project Foundation, which was set up by the King of Thailand, has enabled farmers to replace poppies with coffee (and other crops).

With Christine Cottrell My long discussion with Christine Cottrell – an Australian teacher who brought her sharp researching skills to the fore in producing the Barista Bible – was enlightening for a number of reasons, not least the fact that her thorough collection of study materials for Barista training is apparently the only collection of its kind.

Most of the other coffee aficionados at the festival knew Christine, so her hard work is paying off in terms of networking with the right people. She just needs to secure distribution for her training materials now.

Cream Supplies showed off the remarkable Twist espresso maker again (I saw them at The London Coffee Festival not so long ago), and they said it was ‘the last gig on the tour’.

Daisy Rollo Martin Blunos provided a cookery demonstration using coffee as an ingredient, while the likes of Daisy Rollo showed the crowds how to make the perfect coffee. I’d enjoyed the privilege of tasting one of her lattes earlier in the day and can confidently say it was the best coffee I’ve had in ages. I didn’t even notice the paper cup.

I finally met Jim Cregan, director of Jimmy’s Iced Coffee, who had a great stall and was happily handing out samples with the help of Sophie Willmott.

Besides coffee, relatively new products such as OSO Juicy mingled with more established brands such as Yeo Valley, and there were plenty of sweet treats such as fudge and cupcakes to ensure we didn’t overdose on caffeine.

Take a look at the Flickr gallery. It’s also on Facebook, YouTube and Vimeo.

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