What’s Shaking at the Show?


When exhibiting at any event, one of the real pleasures is walking around and speaking to some of the other food and drink brands on show and, obviously, sampling the goods. It’s also great when we are able to strike up a relationship with a neighbouring stand as we learn loads about a completely new product and develop a great connection with a team we may not otherwise ever meet.

The recent Speciality & Fine Food Fair at Olympia, London, was no exception. Sometimes it’s packaging that catches our eye, sometimes it’s the flavour of a product that gets a conversation started and sometimes it’s just a quirky entrepreneur who grabs our attention as we pass through the hall. Whatever draws us in, we leave these chance encounters with a great respect for the thought, knowledge and passion that makes the brand what it is, and inevitably end up appreciating and enjoying the product in a new way.


Here are a few thoughts on some food brands that really impressed us at the fair.

Coco is a chocolate company that has been making bars since 2004 but we had not met them yet. We loved the simplicity of their packaging and the little touches that give the product a special feel. The wrapper has a great texture and a simple white info panel is contrasted against the colourful backgrounds that feature captivating designs. Coco really is a specialty brand and that comes through when you hold the product in your hands and hear how well the team knows their work!

OCTO is an organic and vegan bean-to-bar chocolate maker out of Poland. OCTO’s beautiful and uniquely designed gold leaf boxes caught our eye but what really impressed us is the brand’s use of coconut sugar and coconut flesh to create delicious chocolate with soft and nuanced flavours. We recommend the bars to anyone who wants to experience an alternative take on classic chocolate.

We really enjoyed the straightforward and simple approach of Bart ‘n’ Lainy’s. The brand features wild blueberries from Canada with minimal processing and the fewest possible added ingredients. Co-founder Mike Nicholas had a great knowledge for the product and his passion for blueberries is truly contagious. Bart ‘n’ Lainy’s adds just a touch of sugar when they jar the berries, and this is just to give the water a sweetness on par with the berries themselves so they maintain their natural composition full of antioxidants and delicious flavour. As Mike explained, the touch of sugar in the water ensures that the natural sweetness in the berries doesn’t migrate into the water. The berries were delicious and would make a great pair for vanilla ice cream, yogurt, a crumble and more. 

TEASPEC is a family tea company based in Malaysia, the ideal climate for ageing the Chinese Pu’er tea that they collect and nurture for up to 30 years! TEASPEC was just across the aisle from us and the Director continually impressed us with his depth of knowledge about flavour profiles and the ageing process for their Pu’er tea. We felt we’d come across the whiskey of tea! Equally impressive are TEASPEC’s beautiful boxes and the thought and care they have taken to develop a brand that comes from a family’s passion for tea and a respect for the time it takes to develop!