What do green apples, skittles and freshly buttered toast all have in common? They can all be used to describe coffee roasts! Whether you are actually able to taste these flavours in your coffee or think it’s a conspiracy-turned-marketing technique of the coffee industry, the range of different roasts presented by local coffee roasters and shops at the fourth Edinburgh Coffee Festival was impressive.
The annual festival filled the Corn Exchange with the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the low purring of espresso machines and your typical monotonous coffee shop singer-songwriter music. It also boasted an impressive programme with classes on how to brew coffee and tea along with talks on Scottish Aeropress Championship and Direct Trade.
In addition, the festival advertised itself as a Zero Waste event and promoted Vegware, a global company founded in Edinburgh, that offers plant-based disposable foodservice packaging which can be composted within 12 weeks. If you have visited an independent coffee shop in Edinburgh (and still don’t own a reusable cup), chances are that you’ve come across one of their eco-friendly cups. Considering that approximately 7 million cups are thrown away every day in the UK, most of which will not be recycled, Vegware is setting an excellent example for bigger chains like Starbucks and Costa to follow suit.
While raising questions about sustainability, the festival also called our society’s relationship with coffee into question. Even in the UK, known for its obsession with tea, about 95 million cups of coffee are consumed per day. Caffeine can’t be the only reason for its popularity as coffee has also gained a social meaning that goes way beyond its taste.
For the last 500 years, coffeehouses have served as places for social interaction and intellectual debates, accommodating groups ranging from the French Enlightenment to the Beat Generation and to the TV sitcom Friends. Coffee shops offer familiarity and company so it is no wonder that they have become such a hallmark of everyday social interactions. Coffee is there for you after an all-nighter or a night out. It has become associated with productivity and is very much a part of student culture.
So, if you are part of the 52 per cent of coffee drinkers who would rather go without a shower in the morning than give up coffee, you should definitely check out the coffee festival next year. But if you can’t wait until then, here are a couple of recommendations and some insider tips from this year’s festival:
Try out the brownies from The Herbivore Kitchen! Located conveniently close to George Square, the sugar shock is guaranteed to keep you awake (no matter how boring your lecture is).
Gordon St Coffee’s Edinburgh roast is the perfect and simple morning cup of coffee. The coffee shop is based in Glasgow, but they are opening in Edinburgh early next year, so keep your eyes open for this shop that is guaranteed to become a favourite.
Last but not least, make sure to explore and support local and sustainable coffee roasters and shops!
Image: Bex Walton via Flickr