Unique coffee fest for Birmingham, UK

The Tamper Tantrum, probably the most entertaining conference in the worldwide coffee trade, is to make its British live debut in Birmingham in February – the event, organised by a Stafford coffee roaster, is part of the initial stages of the UK Barista Championship, in which British coffee-house staff compete for the chance to represent Britain in the world coffee-making finals.

The contest is usually run by a series of regional heats, in which coffee-making experts around the country attempt to win a place in a national final – this year, however, the entire initial stages are being grouped together in a week-long event at the Millennium Point, which has allowed the organisers the chance to create Birmingham’s first coffee-themed conference and debate programme.

The Tamper Tantrums were devised by Steve Leighton, of the Stafford coffee roaster Has Bean.  A ‘tamper’, in coffee-speak, is the little tool with which a barista firms down the coffee grounds in the filter holder before putting it into the espresso machine.   His concept was of a series of presentations on issues affecting the modern coffee trade, rather along the lines of the worldwide TED conferences, in which speakers have a fairly free hand to present ‘ideas worth spreading’ in the fields of technology, entertainment and design.

The coffee event has previously been held in Dublin, drawing visitors from Russia, Germany, and even Australia. The star speakers address aspects of importance to the modern coffee industry, from farming to the importance of sound, basic, customer service manners in a British coffee shop.  One of the most memorable speeches was delivered by a world barista champion on the appreciation of gender equality in the coffee trade, and the opportunities for female baristas in the coffee-shop sector – to make his point, he dressed in drag, with handbag and headscarf, but retained his full beard.

The Birmingham Tamper Tantrum will feature some of the most influential people in the modern coffee trade, including James Hoffmann, the first Briton to win the world barista title.  He will be joined by another British barista champion, Maxwell Colonna Dashwood of Bath, and the influential London coffee-shop owners Vic Frankowski and Rob Dunne (of Tapped and Packed) and Peter Dore Smith (of Kaffeine).

There will also be the first public screening of the documentary Barista or Bust, which follows UK barista champion John Gordon through his progress in the British contest and then the world finals.

“We hope this event is a sign of things to come for the British coffee trade,” remarked organiser Steve Leighton. “More value, more entertainment and more social events around an awesome competition in support of a very lively industry and market sector.”

The barista championship ‘superheats’ will be held at Millennium Point, Birmingham, from 9th – 14th February. The Tamper Tantrum event will be held on Sunday 9th February.

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This story comes from Boughton’s Coffee House magazine.

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