How Coffee Fest Atlanta flourished after the trade show changed locations from New York City.
BY JILLIAN SNIDER
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of Jillian Snider
Coffee gatherings are popping back up all across the U.S., and the team behind Coffee Fest has worked hard to match that pace. They have already managed to host trade shows in San Antonio and Atlanta, while Coffee Fest Anaheim and Coffee Fest PNW are on the books for later in 2021. However, this was not always the intended lineup.
Initially, the second Coffee Fest show was scheduled to take place in New York, but in late March the team announced that the location would be changing to Atlanta due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 in New York City. Although bittersweet, the move allowed them to reach an audience that had been missed for nearly five consecutive years. This resulted in new attendees that were eager to benefit from the education, networking, and competition opportunities that the show offered.
Competitions, Seminars, and More
A competition bracket with 48 baristas competing for the title of Latte Art World Champion dwindled over a three-day period. Ultimately, Piyapat Lateerawut took home the championship title, while Donald Perdomo earned second place and Emilee Bryant took third. Above the competition floor were award-winning pours being brewed, as well as seminars hosted by notable figures in the coffee community.
Podcaster and coffee professional Chris Deferio (Keys to the Shop) hosted a seminar that proved to be quite popular. Another successful discussion was presented by both Phyllis Johnson of BD imports/CCRE and Neichelle Guidry of Black Girl Black Coffee, who provided commentary on the Black coffee experience and the inherently Black history of coffee. This inspiring seminar also empowered professionals to utilize the community surrounding coffee as a mechanism for social progress and innovation.
A Bustling Exhibition Floor
But the innovation didn’t stop there, because while seminars and competitions were unfolding, the showroom floor of Coffee Fest was filled with a constant buzz of interested onlookers eager to taste and test new technology.
Upon entering the gate to the showroom, attendees witnessed the line of elegantly designed Dalla Corte espresso machines and grinders. A short walk down the aisle led to Phoenix Roasters serving up creative nitro cold brews like the strawberry blonde hibiscus and a blueberry basil seltzer. These vendors were also joined by Mahlkönig, which was brewing some delicious Kenyan coffee from Portrait Coffee, a Black-owned roaster local to Atlanta.
Another very popular vendor, and one of the “best of fest” award recipients, was the MYLK cart. Many have been eager to test out the carefully formulated contents from Myracle Kitchen, and had lined up to do just that. Overall, the busy weekend proved that coffee folks in the United States are ready to get back into the trade show action.
Coffee Fest’s director Erika Lowery even mentioned that while the overall attendance may have been lower than the attendance at Coffee Fest NYC 2019, the number of on-site key buyers surpassed the numbers seen in 2019. With this in mind, it could be a plausible consideration to showcase your business at a coffee convention nearest to you if and when you feel safe to do so.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jillian Snider (she/they) is a young coffee professional from Charlotte, N.C. They work with Smelly Cat Coffee as a barista and head roaster. They are passionate about coffee education and coffee equity, and believe coffee should be accessible and approachable for all. To learn more about Jillian’s journey through the world of coffee or to collaborate with Jillian, please feel free to find her on Instagram or reach out via email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and as always, happy brewing, folks!