North East Coffee Festival

19 Apr

Well, I survived!! There are still three charity collection cans floating around in Afternoon Tease cafe because I haven’t yet heard whether UK Coffee Week HQ want me to send back the whole cans, or just write them a cheque.

For a first attempt at organising something like this, I think it went really well. In the end, only five places in Darlington actually signed up with the UK coffee week, and of those, one completely ignored my attempts at getting them involved on a local level. But to be honest I am quite glad about that because I had plenty to deal with as it was. Plenty of places got involved without actually signing up officially though, which was great. I did a coffee ‘treasure map’ sending people to seven different coffee shops around town (including Caffe Nero and Clervaux) and finishing at Afternoon Tease, where I gave the first person back (Congrats to Robin Ellwood!) the “treasure” – a bag of organic single origin Costa Rican beans, the most enormous coffee mug I could find and a cafetiere. Because if you’ve managed to get round seven coffee shops in a week, obviously you must be in need of more coffee!!

The ever-enthusiastic Neil at Golden Brown cafe roasts coffee on site, and did some roasting workshops for interested customers – I met a few who had attended and said it was ‘fascinating’! I was a bit gutted I couldn’t make it to them myself. I don’t know how much Neil raised but hopefully the roasting workshops and the treasure map boosted his sales as well.

I did a poster for the Vitae Public Engagement competition, all about coffee quality (as usual) and hosted in Durham. The idea was the explain people’s academic work to members of the public, so I thought I’d do my bit since the event happened to coincide with coffee week. I didn’t win, but I didn’t really expect to, and I did get to talk to a lot of interesting people, including Kathryn from Allegra (organisers of UK Coffee Week) who had made it all the way up here from London for the day. Really nice of her to make the journey!

Annette at Sublime Coffee Corner, who sells a huge range of different coffee beans on the indoor market, did a coffee tasting session as well as being featured on the treasure map. She said it went well enough, and certainly got to enlighten people to the joys of Kopi Luwak coffee, ahem šŸ™‚

I ran a short barista class at Afternoon Tease on the Friday, which was so much fun! Two who had provisionally booked couldn’t make it at the last minute, but the crowd I got in were brilliant, asking me loads of questions, really getting in to it and most significantly, not being afraid to have a go on my machine. One said she was blown away by the tiny margin of error, how the tiniest thing can make such a huge difference in how the espresso tastes. For my part, it was exhausting! I did get to drink A LOT of espresso, tasting all their attempts no matter how bad! However, as usual when I try and ‘teach’ something I am passionate about, I vastly over-ran and talked solidly for the best part of three hours.

Finally, on the Saturday, we held a few coffee themed stalls in the market square (the back-story for this deserves a blog post in its own right, but in simple terms, this was achieved *despite* the council, not exactly with their help!). My beloved coffee Ape van has now been sold (waaaaaaa!) and I sold it on the understanding that its new owners came to the coffee festival. They did, in fact, the festival actually became the launch of their new business. Apey boy is now called Little Coffee Van, and although nervous, they managed some pretty decent cappuccinos! On a less positive note, they also go a taster of the local open market – thus producing another one joining the campaign pressuring the council to invest in the market and breathe some life in to it, I hope!!
We also had beautiful cakies from Cupcake Kisses, Golden Brown cafe came out and sold freshly roasted coffee beans and gourmet chocolates, Tea Experience came all the way up from the other side of York to pacify the tea drinking half of the population, we even had a massage stall called Reinvigorate for when people had had too much caffeine! I tried to do a sort of information stall, using some of the posters and displays I’d done for uni and some coffee paraphenalia I’ve collected (of which I have A LOT nowadays!). However, Afternoon Tease was open at the same time, and I couldn’t leave Carl manning the place on his own. My parents came up for the weekend to help out with Miranda but I still ended up pedalling backwards and forwards between the stalls and the cafe on Betty the bike. I also did a short but live radio interview for BBC Radio Tees which was terrifying, but at least it wasn’t as awful as the mugshot in the local paper. Ugh.

Anyway, things have been learnt. Kathryn seems pretty keen for me to do this again next year (!!!) but that will depend a great deal on how cooperative Darlington council are feeling because there were parts of the initial setting up of the festival which I have no desire whatever to repeat! A budget would be lovely too… However, moans aside, I really do enjoy doing things like this, hopefully all involved benefitted from it, it was something very different for Darlington, we raised some money for a good cause, and we all got a lot of very very good coffee. Which is the main thing, for me at least!!

Here’s some pretty pics from the week:

Afternoon TeaseGusto ItalianoOrigin cup!Cafe PregoClervauxSeasons

Costa CoffeeGolden Brown CafePoster of Coffee QualityEspresso served in Turkish IbrikDay 8Rachel and Nyx Chapman

Stalls at the Coffee FestivalTea ExperienceFlowering TeasCoffee Information StallCoffee paraphenaliaBeans!

Day 9Cupcake KissesReinvigorateThe Little Coffee VanLittle Coffee VanBaby Coffee

North East Coffee Festival, a set on Flickr.

Some photos from the participating cafes and the main even, 4-10th April 2011.


Posted by on April 19, 2011 in Uncategorized


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2 responses to “North East Coffee Festival

  1. growing beans

    May 19, 2011 at 10:28 am

    I haven’t tried planting coffee beans. Are they hard to grow?

    • drcoffee

      May 21, 2011 at 11:33 pm

      Unless you live at least 800 feet above sea level, preferably near a volcano, where the temperature virtally never dips below 18 degrees celcius.


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