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Partner Spotlight: Caffe Culture


Elliot Gard, Event Director

The Caffè Culture Show has been around for 17 years. It was launched in 2006 to cater for the burgeoning growth of coffee shops on the UK’s high streets. Right from the beginning, the appetite for a dedicated trade show was high as the coffee shop market was only being serviced by the larger national hospitality shows and within a relatively short period, we were able to establish ourselves as the No 1 show in the sector winning multiple exhibition awards.

A key facilitator of the rapid growth and early success was gaining the full support from the industry which included a significant number of the premium coffee and equipment brands but also the major trade associations, such as the BSA and SCA(E). This further enhanced the appeal of Caffè Culture and with the continued growth of the independents and branded chains, we were able to capitalise on this by tripling the size of the show within 5 years which culminated with us bringing the prestigious World Barista Championships to Caffè Culture in 2010.

Despite having to navigate the lockdown, the show has gone through a rebrand, has been relocated to the Business Design Centre and is now realigned with the show’s core values and proposition. We have reconnected with the industry and have managed to attract many former exhibitors back to the show which, as a barometer, bodes well for the future.

What’s involved in organising an event like this?

BCA Quote

You may be surprised to hear but a show like Caffè Culture takes a year to organise with a small team who work tirelessly throughout the show cycle. Everything starts on the last day of the show when we rebook the current exhibitors for the next event. Then, after a thorough review, we set clear goals and create a strategy to achieve it. The next step is to update the creative assets and branding, which allows us to launch the new website and activate the sales campaign.

Throughout the next phase, we work closely with the show partners and sponsors on the feature programme; including the talks, barista competitions, brew bars and workshops. The final phase of the cycle is activating the visitor promotional campaign to drive visitor registration to the event. This part is probably the most stressful as you are at your busiest and you have the constant worry until you reach your pre-set registration goal.

What are the main issues/priorities?

Putting on a good show that works for the exhibitors and sponsors alike and one that the visitors get real value from. The main issues have been navigating the enforced lockdown and the challenges that arose from it. We were the first show out of the blocks once the lockdown was relaxed so we had to plan and arrange the show against a backdrop of uncertainty which was probably the hardest thing I’ve had to do in 20 years of organising large events.


 What’s the biggest success story so far?

Over the course of my time running Caffè Culture, I would say securing the World Barista Championships in 2010 was a real high but after coming back to run the show after a 5-year absence, relaunching the show, changing perceptions and attracting back some key brands comes close, although we are not quite there yet. My driving ambition is to continue developing and growing the show to make it the only necessary ‘must-attend trade event’ in the event calendar.

B Corp is an important addition to our certification portfolio as it demonstrates our values as a business and reflects our socially and environmentally responsible business practices. It is a natural extension of our ongoing focus on sustainability. As reassessment takes place every year, it helps us work towards a more sustainable future through progression, measurement, and improvement.

What are the benefits of Caffe Culture partnering with organisations like BCA?

We get a great deal of value partnering with the industry associations such as BCA. Our joint aims are to add value to the members (our exhibitors) who often get involved in exhibiting at the show. It also adds credibility to the show with having the endorsement and support of the organisation. We are very selective and will only work if there is a real upside for our stakeholders.

What do you love most about the coffee industry?

I must say it is the people. Throughout my exhibition career, I’ve worked in a number of interesting sectors, but the coffee industry is by far my favorite. The industry attracts real characters and entrepreneurs who are driven and passionate about what they do, which is infectious. I’m happy to say I’ve made quite a few life-long friends through the show and just love working in the industry.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to enter your field?

I would highly recommend working in events to anyone interested as it can be an exhilarating and thrilling ride. You get to meet some very interesting and dynamic people but you definitely need a thick-skin as it can be very stressful at times. However, there’s no better feeling when the show you have been working on all year is successful – it’s highly addictive !

Our thanks to Elliot Gard of Caffe Culture.