Saturday 2nd December saw the first Out of the box held in the North, at Duke Studios and Sheaf Street Cafeteria. Following the success of the recently opened ‘La Marzocco Local’ office in Leeds, and seeing the speciality scene in the North go from strength to strength, we were ecstatic to welcome over 400 guests through the door, with around 70% of these being new visitors from the North!

The days schedule was enriched with content from industry panels, competitions, features from our event partners and of course the European True Artisan Café.

The Sheaf St cafeteria played host to the popular True Artisan Café giving guests the rare opportunity to taste coffees from 15 of the finest roasteries across Europe. Many thanks go to all the roasters who supported with coffee; Badger and Dodo from Dublin, BonanzaFive Elephant and The Barn from Berlin, The Coffee Collective from Copenhagen, Coutume and Café Lomi from Paris, Ditta Artigianale and Mokarico from Florence, Hola Coffee from Madrid, Koppi Fine Coffee Roasters from Helsinborg, Nomad Coffee from Barcelona, TAF from Athens and Tim Wendelboe from Oslo. We were so honoured for these roasters to send us coffee and you can read further information on these coffees HERE…

Out of the box was also hosted the official UK premiere of the latest creation in the La Marzocco product range, the LEVA. Guests were given an introduction to the newest piece of kit and welcomed to try it out themselves which has been really well received. After seeing the LEVA online following the launch at HOST 2017, it was great for eager guests to finally get hands on with the machine for the first time and provide us with feedback. More product information on the Leva can be found HERE.

An itinerary of six industry panels ran throughout the day covering a spectrum of coffee industry topics. This year’s panels being held in the Duke Studio ‘Conservatory’ which catered for more of an intimate setting between our hosts and guests really allowing for the element of discussion in the room.

The first of the morning was the ‘Coffeefest Takeover’ panel which saw Lisa Lawson founder and organiser of Glasgow Coffee Festival, Tom McCormack co-founder of Birmingham Coffee Festival and Hannah Davies the co-founder of Cup North aka Manchester Coffee Festival discuss the growth and evolution of coffee festivals in the UK.

The second panel ‘From conception to birth’ meant that not only could guests see the Leva in action on the day but could also attend the panel which shone a light on the creation process of the latest machine. We were honoured to have Roberto Bianchi, our Chief Operations Officer, join us from Florence to run this panel. Joining Roberto for a post-presentation discussion was James Healey, Commercial Director of Marco Beverage Systems and Alex Georgiou, Head of Marketing for IKAWA Coffee. It was great to have a meeting of minds that have seen the different stages; positive and positively frustrating, when it comes to Research and Development. Designing and producing new products is a long process but the pay off when ideas come to reality is priceless!

‘Roots & Wings’ explored the ideas and actions that go into designing and creating different hospitality spaces. On the panel was Jason Prain from Made by Jason, Daniel Thompson from Soho House and our very own Paul Kelly, General Manager of La Marzocco UK & Ireland.

‘Print is not dead’ was proved by the panellists Richard Singleton and Thomas Summer of The Essential Journal, Scott Bentley from Caffeine Magazine and John Barran from Independent Leeds. From exploring the vibrancy of Leeds to exploring the best hospitality experiences in the UK, the panel discussed how free print publications can gain a loyal and consistent following and offer something online media cannot. Also, thanks go to The Essential Journal, Caffeine Magazine and Independent Leeds for providing the latest issues of all three publications for the event goodie bags.

The ‘Bike & Brew’ panel discussed the synergy between coffee and cycling culture and how the two industries continue to get stronger and more closely aligned. Panellists were; Christian Meier, ex pro road cyclist and now coffee shop owner/roaster at La Fabrica. Lucy and Grace Garner, Pro Female British racing cyclists who currently race for Wiggle High5. Federico Motta, fixed wheel racer for team NVAYRK alongside Edy Piro of Terrone & Co coffee roasters who are the main sponsors of the NVAYRK team. The panel was rounded off with Liam Phillips, BMX racing cyclist and owner of Common Ground.

In specialty coffee, quality is everything and every step of the process requires attention and diligence to retain and promote as many of the inherent qualities in a coffee as possible. The final panel of the day discussed this. ‘The Impact of Quality’ be made up of Mike Riley and Line from Falcon Coffees, Ruth Hampson from Bean and Bud and Holly Bowman from North Star. Again, Falcon Coffees brought a key area of discussion to the event but as event partner, also brought quality to the cupping table in their own space within the event.

Along with sponsors Grey GooseUnionLoveramics and Northiam Dairy, Out of the Box played host to the finals of the SCA UK Coffee in Good Spirits and Latte Art championships which drew in a large crowd to spectate along with having the livestream available to the rest of the world.

Event partners Marco Beverage Systems bought their latest technologies serving some tasty filter coffees including a home roast. One stop shop for all things speciality coffee, Espresso Solutions were running their ever popular e-store whilst also showing off new products including the Acaia Orion Bean Counter.

The Yarden played host to event partners Falcon Coffees who bought some incredible coffees to the table and hosted two cuppings, the first at 11am and second at 2pm. They showcased a selection of their latest favourites from Africa and Central and South America as well as being a part of ‘The Impact of Quality’ panel. IKAWA showcased their digital micro roaster holding an Espresso Roast Challenge, where visitors could create an espresso roast profile in the IKAWA app then go onto roast it on the world’s first digital micro roaster.

Also in The Yarden was the Modbar which hosted some key players in the North, La Bottega MilaneseNorth Star and Grumpy Mule throughout the day. Afternoon beer was flowing through our GS3 espresso beer machine, beer was kindly provided by Northern Monk! One of our beer selections included a collaboration between Northern Monk and North Star Coffee Roasters, Mocha Porter, which brought together two Leeds powerhouses in the perfect Saturday afternoon drink!

The Grey Goose cocktail masterclass kicked off late afternoon, with Oliver Puck from The East Village in Leeds running demos and getting the crowd involved in the cocktail making before giving out tasters of a twist on the Espresso Martini and an alternative take on a coffee based cocktail with a light summer vibe. Oli also showed us several different Chocolate and Vanilla bitters that he uses in his cocktails as he finds bitters are an under used ingredient in coffee based cocktails. Finally Oli showed us how to make our own Coffee Vodka; infusing 200ml Vodka with 9oz of coffee beans, he soaked this mix in a kilner jar over several days and infused it with a vanilla pos and caster sugar, making for a dangerously smooth and full bodied vodka.

Following a day bursting with content it was only right to bring in the night La Marzocco style with the official Out of the Box 90s After-Party; firstly, by filling up on burgers from Grub and Grog on the Linea Classic Barbecue followed by the competition announcements. Congratulations to the SCA UK Coffee in Good Spirits champion Dan Fellow’s and the Latte Art champion Dhan Tamang on his sixth consecutive win!

It was then time to compete in a dance off to Salt n Pepa’s ‘Push It’ to be in with a chance to win some Push Tamps kindly donated by Clockwork Espresso. The two La Marzocco customised micro scooters were given to lucky dip winners and finally a range of La Marzocco merch was given out along with coffee from some of our roasting partners. To commemorate our 90th anniversary, the soundtrack played with some of the best tunes from the 1990s and the party continued until the doors closed after one incredible day and night.

We’d like to say a massive thank you to our event partners Grey GooseFalcon CoffeesIKAWA CoffeeEspresso SolutionsMarco Beverage SystemsCaffeine MagaineCaffeine Culture plus Duke Studios  and Sheaf Street Cafeteria for allowing us to host Out of the Box!

Most importantly of all a huge thank you to all who attended our first Out of the Box in Leeds, it was fantastic to see so many familiar faces and especially make new friends in the North. We can not do this without your support and we look forward to hosting more events where we can celebrate the coffee community throughout the UK & Ireland.

Photos by: Massimo Coniglio, Duncan Bottrill & Caelen Weber.