What happens when coffee and cycling come together? Normally it’s just a pacier run on the training ride but occasionally it can conjure up an entire event.
SPIN teamed up with LCF (London Coffee Festival) for a free-wheeling, free-grinding, blend of coasting ‘n’ roasting in Shoreditch this weekend. Catching the Christmas mood (and the Christmas trade no doubt) was a big part of the reason for these happy bedfellows to put on a show together and each was equally represented with about 40 exhibitors each. Alongside these were a good bar, a couple of food stalls and Rollapaluza. Entry was £1.75 in advance (just the booking fee) or £5 on the door.
Regular readers will know I’m not a big coffee drinker so I brought reinforcements in the shape of Mrs JerseyPocket. Her interest in all things ‘Bean’ had already led to enquiring about a coffee machine featured in the emails promoting the event. (A £5,000 coffee machine as it turned out. It ain’t happening. Not before I get a custom titanium frame anyway). Armed with a special SPINxLCF beer each we divided, and hopefully conquered, to bring you the Best In Show:
The cycling half of the show had an even spread of frames and apparel as well as a smattering of accessories & art. Smaller than SPIN’s show at the Truman Brewery back in the Spring, the Christmas event had a number of new exhibitors to keep things fresh instead. The compact stands, housed in a single warehouse space between Shoreditch and the City, lent a market-like feel to the evening session that we attended, which worked better in this context than the spread-out tradeshow feel of the May event. The large numbers of people and some belting Friday night tunes from the DJ’s created a really good atmosphere.
Many of the big brands were absent so it was a great opportunity to talk to some of the boutique clothing companies and individuals who are initially coming to cycling with small ranges and looking to build from there. Product knowledge was really high, as it was often the owner on the stand selling the stuff. Amongst others it was good to chat with Ragpicker, Michaux, Fused and Bee Clothing about what they are up to and what their ambitions are.
The following things stood out for me:
Loveyellow’s clever Venn Diagram cards (£2.60) and cleverer “I’m in touch with my inner tube” Tee’s (£20) and Mugs (£8).
I really liked the seamless knitted tops from new apparel brand, RoadRags. Made in Leicester with the ‘finest South African Merino’, according to Bruno and Vaughan who were amiably manning the stand. Only available in a single plain grey colourway for the moment, they had neatly refined takes on men’s and women’s jerseys. A double roll-neck on the men’s winter ‘Smithfield‘ jersey (£115) doubles up as a face warmer and the women’s Holborn merino tights have a built-in overskirt which I’ve not seen anywhere else before.
Elsewhere, the other highlights were nearly all found on the Mosquito stand.. It’s not from a small company but I did drool over the Lezyne Alloy Floor Drive track pump (£50). With it’s cast aluminium base, retro pressure gauge and timber handles it wouldn’t look out of place in Coppi’s workshop and I’ll be getting one for mine. Mosquito also had a few third-party clothing lines, all of which had something that caught the eye.
The first a was lovely men’s jacket from Oregon based company Showers Pass. Called the Amsterdam (£149), it’s a heavier version of their classic Portland soft shell. The integrated reflective piping and rain flap were nice but it was the gorgeous grey herringbone material that got this on my own personal Christmas wishlist.
Second was a pair of cotton riding trousers (£85) from women’s only brand Velocity Cyclewear. Made in London, they have the nicest take on the hidden reflective detail in the trouser turn-up. It’s just their logo (and we have seen that done with jeans already of course) but as the logo is a thing of such simple graphic beauty it works really well.
Lastly on the crowded Mosquito stand was a women’s Yolande merino jersey (£120) from Café du Cycliste. Again only available in grey – though described as Khaki on the website – they have gone for the overt use of reflective patches on the elbows and down the full length front zip to style the design. A button-across collar and sewn-on metal logo badge on the arm make for a really sophisticated look.
So, not much colour was in evidence – lots of grey, which is not an issue for me – but quality was high and enthusiasm higher. It will be good to see some of the faces again at the next full SPIN show and see how they are getting on.
Over on the coffee side there was one clear winner. Having given up (for now) on the five grand La Marzocco machine, Mrs TJP was bewitched by the demonstration of a Hario Syphon 3 coffee maker on the UNION stand. Always intrigued by Bunsen burners and laboratory bulb flasks when I was a kid, I was pretty impressed too once she called me over to have a look. The idea of making coffee as though you were Dr Frankenstein is a lot more appealing to me than thinking you are George Clooney when you stick a Nespresso pod in and just press a button. Each small cup involved pressurised flammable gas, naked flames, de-pressurised vacuum chambers and inverse filtration. Each also took about 10 minutes to make. It was pure coffee-making theatre. Plus it costs less than £100. Perfect.
All in all a great night out, which we capped off with posh steaks and red wine with some friends round the corner at Tramshed. Happy Christmas SPIN.