The Algarve Coffee Festival

I thought I knew a bit about coffee, but after a visit to the Beany Bunch Festival, I came away more enlightened and better informed. 

The Beany Bunch team is headed by Shannon and Nick, and after a chat and a sample coffee, I had a new appreciation of the local elixir and all that it entails. Shannon, Shan for short, and I sat at a table at the venue’s Collab Bar, appropriately named since they collaborate with just such events as the Beany Bunch Festival. She explained her journey through the world of coffee with delightful exuberance and enthusiasm. 

She began as a waitress in New Zealand, but when tedium became overwhelming, a Michelin-starred chef in a famous Melbourne restaurant, Chez Dre, encouraged her to train to become a barista specialist. She loved coffee and now, after many years, she is a barista instructor and consultant and has set up coffee shops in such diverse locations as Cambodia, car plants in Germany (Mercedes Benz) and hi-tech offices like Spotify. Shan describes her Cambodia experience as “a charmingly fascinating part of my coffee journey”. She had a team of six trainers in Cambodia and in the course of a year, they taught hundreds of would-be baristas. 

Shan and Nick met whilst working as baristas/consultants at two coffee shops in Lagos, Abigails and Black and White, and a friendly rivalry developed. Now they are a team, the self-described Beany Bunch. “Most of us go to the supermarket and buy pre-packaged coffee in vacuum-packed bags or small pods of coffee for espresso machines,” she explains, “but by doing so, we are missing out on the joys of real coffee.” 

Coffee beans are grown in the tropical latitudes in mountainous regions. The Blue Mountain coffee of Jamaica is famous as are coffee beans from the hillsides of Columbia, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Burundi among many others. The Arabica coffee bean, which originated in Ethiopia, is the most widely used. Experienced coffee blenders will use different varieties of Arabica to produce desirable flavours. Blends may include other beans like Robusta, which is harsher but has a higher caffeine content.

By mid-afternoon, the festival was in full swing with four stalls of coffee roasters, a ceramicist, a purveyor of coffee roasting machines and associated implements, and the Beany Bunch stall offering a selection of coffees and tastings. 

Coffee roasting is an exacting and specialised art, and coffee roasters roast and grind the beans to achieve particular flavours. The coarseness of the grind is also an important factor. Coffee roasters are often coupled with cafes.

The Studio, founded in 2021, was well represented. It has two branches, one in Luz and the other in Lagos. They buy, roast and blend their own brand and serve a selection of coffees and tasty accompaniments in their cafes. On display were some of their packaged products. Like fine wines, their coffees are described in detail. For example, the Papua New Guinea blend is described as ‘chocolate, pink lemonade, floral, poached pear’. I also learned about the region the beans come from and the altitude of the beans’ growth. 

KŌYŌ was founded by Gyula Illés in 2021, fulfilling a lifelong dream. Located in Aljezur, this speciality coffee house is dedicated to presenting the best plantation coffees in the world. 

Also, on display was something completely different. Zenergy is a mushroom health supplement combined with organic coffee. Produced in Portugal, it is described as increasing cognitive function, energy, memory, creativity and reduced anxiety. They don’t have a retail outlet yet but information is available at

Included in the fun events were two competitions: the latte design competition and the best-tasting coffee of the day using an AeroPress. This method forces the liquid through the ground coffee directly into the jug or cup. Substantial prizes were awarded, donated by Sage Appliances, whose stand demonstrated various ways to use their products.

The festival included instruction, quizzes, kids’ events, workshops and giveaways. Speciality coffee shops and roasters have seen a huge boon in the last few years and this Algarve event will surely be the first of many more to come.


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