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The Tea and Coffee Festival, Southbank, London

tea festival

First I need to set the scene. We had just had our website launch and it had gone well. We were relaxing a little after a what been a hectic couple of weeks.

Then we discovered The Tea and Coffee Festival in London. Perfect in all ways except one, the date. It was due to happen in a little over two weeks from our launch date. We were prepared for internet sales, but certainly not for a three day festival. This is where practicality fought opportunity and opportunity won. The chance to get our name and products out there was too great to be defeated by such issues as getting our stock ready, a lack of any sort of stand or leaflets, or for that matter anything useful for a market stall.

Well we made it. A week of late nights, some very efficient printers and a frantic search for black cloth we were ready(ish). We arrived at the Southbank Centre Square early on Saturday morning, set up our stall and began to sell until we left on Sunday night. It wasn’t actually as simple as that, but it felt as quick.

The square was full of tea and coffee stalls as well as numerous food sellers. We were (un)fortunately next to The Sweet Tooth Factory stall who were selling the most amazing cakes. The information stand on the other side did not present as much of a temptation! We didn’t get to see many of the other stalls because we were so busy, but the browsing crowds seemed happy. Straight across from our stall was the ‘Cookery Theatre’ where numerous talks and demonstrations were put on. Our favourite was the brilliant Jane Pettigrew (a tea guru) who led tutored tea tastings. Attending one of Jane’s tea masterclasses and tastings in the past was another key point in our growth into a company. She has helped us a great deal. Sadly, yet thankfully, we were too busy to over-hear all of her talk!

At the Southbank Tea and Coffee Festival, 2011

Serving a customer at the Tea and Coffee Festival, Southbank

The whole event was very well organised and had a great mix of tea, coffee and food to keep most people happy. For us it was a success and we learnt an enormous amount. It was great to hear what customers thought of our brand, products and tea as a whole. The biggest relief was finding out that people wanted to buy and that we are not deluded mad people as we have occasionally feared. No amount of market research can make up for real customers.

We hope to be back for the next Tea and Coffee Festival in the Spring, watch this space.

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