We’re so excited to be in Chicago for another great edition of Coffee Fest, which continues to be the best coffee show for small retailers around. The show floor is manageable, the companies represented are exactly the kinds of products independent cafe owners are looking for, the ticket price is just $30, and there are loads of fun activities happening in conjunction with the event.
Coffee Fest Chicago takes place Friday (today!), Saturday, and Sunday at Navy Pier. Hours are 12 “5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 12 “4 p.m. on Sunday. To give you a jumping off point, we thought we’d offer up some of our picks and tips for making this a fun, productive, and educational weekend of all things coffee!
¢ See everything. Plan to spend at least 4 hours on the trade show floor. Whether you split it up into 2 hours on Friday and 2 hours on Saturday, or do it all in one day, you’ll need plenty of time to visit the vendors you plan to see, and also enough to browse the retailers whose products you didn’t expect.
¢ Make a plan: You can go online and check out the list of exhibitors to decide who you definitely want to see ahead of time. Or you can just take 10 minutes with your show guide when you get to the show and do that. But one way or another, making a plan ahead of time will ensure you don’t miss key contacts, and you have time to see everything you want to.
¢ Take a class. Coffee Fest offers some of the best classes for new and existing cafe owners taught by leaders in the industry. One class that’s getting a lot of buzz that will be offered for the first time ever in Chicago is The Successful Coffee House. Read all about it here.
¢ Watch the Latte Art Championship! The Coffee Fest Latte Art Championship is the most exciting coffee contest around, with baristas from Tokyo to Milwaukee, Los Angeles to Seoul, and everywhere in between showing up to pour some of the world’s most beautiful milk art for a panel of discerning judges. It’s exciting to watch from start to finish. Round 1: 9 a.m. Friday; Round 2: 10 a.m. Saturday; Final round: 10:30 a.m. Sunday. Location: Just outside the show floor entrance.
¢ Hit the opening reception. Coffee Fest always throws a heckuva party on the first night of the event, which gives attendees a wonderful chance to mingle with exhibitors and peers in a casual setting. Tonight’s reception takes place at the Landshark Beer Garden from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Be sure to bring your show badge for entry and a free drink.
¢ Get out and see the sites, er ”cafes! You can participate in a Caffeine Crawl while in Chicago ”there are four different tours of the city’s best cafes to fit your schedule. Caffeine Crawls take place around the country and are hands down the best tours Barista Magazine can recommend.
¢ Head to a party! Local baristas often put together a latte art throwdown ”a friendly competition of milk pouring techniques ”during a Coffee Fest events, and they’re inevitably one of the best parts of the weekend. On Friday, Ipsento will be hosting a throwdown, and everyone’s invited!
¢ Visit Barista Magazine’s booth. We want you to come by and say hi! Please stop and visit us at Barista Magazine’s booth, #506, where editor Sarah Allen will be joined by local baristas to give away copies of the brand-new issue, June+July, as well as sign you up for a one-year subscription for the special price of just $20!
However you do it, you’re sure to have a blast at Coffee Fest Chicago this weekend ”we can’t wait to see you!