One of the most exciting and enjoyable parts of working with green coffee is traveling to meet roasters and producers alike. Connecting these two sides of the industry is our main focus, and therefore we are constantly trying to dream up new ways to bring our partners together. The Legendary Coffee Tour is one of these dreams come true, and our European team is happy to have introduced it to that continent after several successful road trips by the North American Cafe Imports crew: Take an all-star selection of coffees out and about for several different coffee communities to try, open the floor to discussion and learning together, and, of course, cool down with a beer after all’s been said and slurped.
Specialty-coffee communities are growing strong all across the many diverse regions of Europe, so for us, these tours offer a chance to introduce ourselves to coffee cultures, roasting styles, market needs, and theories and ideas of all shapes and sizes. We unrolled the map, spun the globe, and Cafe Imports Europe ultimately decided to kick off their European Legendary Coffee Tours through some of our home regions, bring: Stuart Ritson’s native U.K., and Simone König’s Alpine territory of Bavaria, Switzerland, and Austria.
Here are their traveling journals from these Legendary events, and we look forward to seeing more of you out there in the wide world of coffee!
Sales representative, Cafe Imports
(Pictured above, second to right)
“The first stop on the tour was Bristol, in the South West of the United Kingdom. For years now the area of Bristol and surrounding cities, particularly Bath, has been a hotbed for some of the UK’s most exciting coffee shops and roasters. While there were many venues that would have been perfect, we paired up with the team from Little Victories, in the new riverside Wapping Wharf development. After an introductory cupping the beer started flowing, and everyone was ready to get the Stump the Roaster panel discussion going.
The panel consisted of four roasters from the South West: Eddie Twitchett from Round Hill Roastery, Dave Stanton from Crankhouse Coffee, Tim Nurse from Clifton Coffee, and finally Maxwell Colonna-Dashwood from Colonna. It was great to hear the challenges and triumphs of each panelist, with their broad range of experiences. Of particular note was the description of Tim’s homemade roaster, made of just a glass jar and a heating element, all mounted on a wooden frame. It really showed that you don’t always need a big budget to get involved in roasting.
As the evening drew in and the beer ran out, the panelists all agreed they could have spent many more hours discussing each and every minute detail of how and why they roast the way they do. Maybe no one was ‘stumped,’ but we all left inspired to talk more and share more ideas. Can’t complain about that!”
“Moving on from Bristol, we took our cupping kit up north to Manchester. Roasters, baristas, and even an exporter (Adriana Ruiz from Banexport in Colombia) made their way down to TAKK in the city’s Northern Quarter to try coffees from all around the World. This time around we made things a little tougher, setting down 10 coffees from five different origins and asking the crowd to guess which coffees were from which.
The winners, Ricardo and Hannah, snagged themselves the latest Cafe Imports T-shirt, a cupping spoon, and a bag of roasted coffee each. Oh, and of course the esteem of Manchester’s coffee community!”
“What self-respecting tour wouldn’t take in at least one Festival? Heading right to the middle of the U.K., the Cafe Imports Europe team pulled up in Birmingham for the inaugural Birmingham Coffee Festival, held in the Custard Factory. Thankfully, the custard was long gone, leaving plenty of room for a series of cuppings—which were held at the Quarter Horse stand. It was great to meet so many passionate people, and we left having learnt a lot and really excited to take the Legendary Coffee Tour on to its next destination… The Alps!”
Sales representative, Cafe Imports Europe
(Pictured above, left)
“Bavaria, Switzerland, and Austria were on the list for the Alps leg of the tour—and, boy, let me tell you, summer in the mountain range can be hot! We were basically chasing the sun from first stop in Munich to the last in Vienna. Not only the sun kept us warm, though, but also the overwhelming welcoming vibes we received in each city.
We took five different duets of origins along with us to Freibad 9/Kaffeekontor Bayern in Munich, Auer & Co. in Zurich, and to Jonas Reindl Coffee in Vienna. Coffee people joined from all over the mountains to go around the table with their tasting kit, and to have the best local-style beer possible afterwards: In Munich we even got in to an Oktoberfest mood when we saw the Augustiner from a wooden barrel. It needs precise care in pouring from the tap and in hitting with a wooden hammer to get the perfect foam and beverage ratio. On the Legendary Tours you don’t just learn about coffee, beer traditions play an important part as well.”
“Going back, reminiscing especially on the Alps tour, a thing became super obvious that I had forgotten about: These cities might just be an hour’s flight apart from each other, but couldn’t be more different. Though all of them are German-speaking, the dialects vary just as much as their coffee menus and drinking history.
For me, who is based in Berlin, it is so rewarding to be able to learn more about the coffee scenes in other regions, and to bring them together for something as simple and exciting as tasting coffees.
Can’t wait to see the tour dates for 2018 in Europe! Stay tuned, we might be heading to a city near you soon…”