Coffee Fest Indianapolis, featuring a wide variety of booths, competitions, and classes and workshops, starts on Friday.
BY CHRIS RYAN
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Photos courtesy of Coffee Fest
This week, coffee professionals from around the country will converge on Indianapolis for Coffee Fest, the trade show that has been offering its signature combination of exhibitions, competitions, and educational programming since 1982.
Taking place May 31 to June 2 at the Indiana Convention Center, Coffee Fest Indianapolis is the second Coffee Fest of the year (after the New York event in March), and is the trade show’s only stop in the Midwest in 2019. Holly Barrett, Coffee Fest’s marketing manager, says they chose Indianapolis as a host city because of its central location in the area. “It’s accessible by about nine cities in the U.S., including Detroit, Cincinnati, and Chicago,” she says. “We thought it was a great central place for the region, and so far we’re seeing that to be true in the registration information.”
Coffee Fest Indianapolis will feature the show’s usual arsenal of coffee competitions, including the Latte Art World Championship Open, in which 64 baristas show off their pouring skills to battle for the top spot—check out the Indianapolis bracket here. In the America’s Cold Brew Competition, 32 roasters will share their cold-brew offerings, with a panel of judges determining the top brew. (Check out that bracket here.)
The third competition, America’s Best Espresso, will have its final go-round at Coffee Fest Indianapolis. The competition is billed as the “Championship Finals,” with the 24 competing roasters having placed in the top four at America’s Best Espresso competitions in the last two years (here is the bracket). Holly says that while Coffee Fest is phasing out America’s Best Espresso, they will soon replace it with a new competition. “We’ll be looking to find another way to showcase roasters and their espresso in a different format,” she says. “We’re still deciding what that will look like.”
Coffee Fest Indianapolis will also feature a wide range of seminars and workshops. Holly says that Coffee Fest overhauled its educational offerings last year, with about half of the classes new for 2019. The free seminars—nine of which are new for Indianapolis—cover everything from business leadership to barista skills to roasting and beyond, and are geared toward coffee professionals of all skill levels.
The workshops are paid opportunities for coffee pros to further their skills in latte art, running a business, and many other topics, and are offered at several expertise levels. Holly points to a couple of new seminars from the last year that are receiving considerable buzz: Drink Menu Evolution, in which experts from Torani, Pacific Barista Series, Klatch Coffee, Blendtec, and other companies offer tips for how coffee businesses can maximize their product and equipment and minimize waste; and Infuse-a-Palooza, a tea-tasting course from Maya Tea that provides a lighthearted education of the tea business. Head here for a full list of the seminars and workshops taking place at Coffee Fest Indianapolis, as well as registration information.
Later this year, Coffee Fest will co-locate with the Western Foodservice Hospitality Expo for its Los Angeles show August 25-27, and will head to Tacoma, Wash., for Coffee Fest PNW 2019 November 15-16, a new Coffee Fest event that will unveil different features.
While these larger shows are typical of the present-day Coffee Fest experience, Holly says Coffee Fest Indianapolis, as a standalone event, is a more intimate shows that harkens back to Coffee Fest’s early days. “There may be fewer people than at the big shows, but having a concentrated group of coffee retailers and roasters is what Coffee Fest is about,” she says. “This is how we started out, and supporting and connecting with this community is the reason we do what we do.”
For more information on Coffee Fest Indianapolis and to register for the show, head to the Coffee Fest website.