Talking to the trade at the European Coffee Expo 2019

Observations from show

London’s vibrant coffee scene was the backdrop for the Europe Coffee, Tea and Soft Drinks Expo (ECE), the only trade show of its kind dedicated to the provision of non-alcoholic drinks across the foodservice spectrum. In contrast to the London Coffee Festival back in April, which draws in consumers and trade professionals alike to the Old Truman Brewery in trendy Brick Lane, the Expo is aimed purely at trade buyers.

There was a flavour of the ‘Festival’ in some of the seminars and workshops offering the latest market insight, innovative ideas as well as training opportunities with the chance to pick up some new skills. But on the stands, the vibe was more serious – this show is less a celebration of all things coffee and more about the important business of delivering in this ever increasing and demanding market.

Live roasting demonstrations were a big feature at the London Coffee Festival and reflecting this and the increasing appreciation for this aspect of the coffee journey, the Selecta UK team had chosen to highlight our roasting heritage at the European Coffee Expo. This tradition of coffee craftsmanship developed since 1863 from our roastery at Dordrecht in the Netherlands was to the fore on our stand which stood out with its historic black and white floor to ceiling imagery.

The result was a real European coffee house buzz with coffee tasters stopping by to sample the new Pelican Rouge collections.

At the London Coffee Festival, the Selecta team picked up on the trend towards consumers wanting to know more about where their coffee comes from, with an increased focus on single origin as well as organically grown coffees.

Selecta’s two new Pelican Rouge collections showcased at ECE reflect this direction of travel; the premium, 100% Arabica Heritage blends, developed for a more refined taste and the Natural blends which are organic, Carbon Neutral and Fairtrade certified.

Not surprisingly away from the coffee itself, there was a great deal of discussion around the variety of machines available and the need to match the right machine with the business profile. With a number of seminars focussing on the challenge of recruiting and retaining coffee service professionals, the Selecta team sees ever-growing demand for its barista style ‘semi-automatic’ machines that add an element of ‘coffee theatre’ without the need for a high level of expertise across the team.

It was inspiring to see so many career-changers at the show, keen to enter the market and bring something new. Part of the Selecta offering lies in the consultancy support we give in helping grow and develop coffee outlets and there was a real thirst for knowledge among new entrants.

Interest in barista-style dairy alternatives keeps on growing. While at the London Coffee Festival nut milks were to the fore, with a relative newcomer Macadamia nut milk being a standout, at the ECE, oat milk ranges dominated. The dairy milk alternatives do have a range of effects on foam quality and the Selecta team is currently carrying out tests to determine the best – so watch this space.

Elsewhere, there was discussion around the position in the market of decaffeinated coffee with some experts pointing to a rise in consumption. However, this was not much in evidence among the coffee boffins at London Coffee Festival and both the Allegra Coffee Report 2018 and Selecta’s own experience suggests there is still some way to go before we start ditching our regular caffeine hit as part of our daily routine.

Combining all the components that go into our daily coffee spend, from the coffee origin, journey, roasting to the barista or machine and service behind it, which delivers the finished product, the key take away message from both these London shows was that with so much competition out there, there are no second chances – for consumers today, the coffee experience has to be perfect.