By Jeremy Martin
Were you at Convergence 2014? The event cohosted by Rip Van Wafels and Slate Coffee, and co-sponsored by some of the best coffee roasters in the Seattle area was a remarkable night of conversation, art, coffee, and some mighty strong cocktails.
Housed in pottery wherehouse in Seattle’s Sodo district, the party provided an opportunity for that rare but always entertaining combination of professional networking mixed with over-caffeinated dancing. Neon strobe lights filled the space with purple and blue flashes while friends new and old discussed their thoughts on the future of specialty coffee. Baristas, café owners, and roasters sipped on gin and tonics made with Captive Spirits gin, drank adult fruit punch mixed by Seattle’s Westland Distillery, and indulged in chai-tinis made with Evenflow Vodka mixed with spicy Bhakti Chai.
Even attendees seeking more of a backyard party vibe had all their wishes granted thanks to the self serve kegs of Mac & Jack’s Amber and IPA. Espresso provided by Slate, Caffe Ladro, Caffe Vita, Victrola, Blue Bottle, Marley and others provided a much needed boost as the gathering turned from a late Saturday night affair into an early Sunday morning dance party.
œThis is the best way we see to develop a relationship with our customer base, and to get to know everyone. We see that as the most important part ”the business part comes second, and we want to make friends with everyone first, Jaran Voss of Rip Van Wafels said. Hosting a warehouse party full of art installations, engaging conversation, craft liquor, and endless plates of waffles seems like the perfect way to go about accomplishing those goals. But it took more than the desire to make friends to pull off a party as awesome as this one.
œWorking in San Francisco and trying to host an event in Seattle is challenging, Sarah Thornton of Rip Van Wafels ”which is based in the Bay Area ”said. Thornton said the logistics of organizing partners, finding the perfect space and trucking all the displays and decorations 800 miles north proved to be difficult, but the biggest hurdle was in acquiring fire permits from the city of Seattle. Not that any of the guests or volunteer baristas and bartenders knew of the hiccups, since the party itself went off without a hitch.
œThe space is good and I really like the waffles. I didn’t know what to expect coming into this, but I think it turned out pretty cool, Clay Hoffman of Starbucks said.
The space itself took on an industrial ˜underground’ feel with pallet wood adorning the entry way, pottery kilns lining the walls, and vases and other objects drying in nearly every corner of the warehouse. A soundtrack of electroclash, tech pop, and remixed house tracks kept the vibe energetic, while an outdoor seating area lorded over by some kind of giant old timey machine cum art installation made for a welcoming cool down area when the main floor got too hot.
According to Thornton, the party was at full capacity and it seemed like everyone was enjoying themselves, which by any measure should qualify Convergence 2014 as a success.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeremy Martin is a freelance writer and photographer who has reported on coffee, craft beer, college sports, and business for a variety of publications over the past six years. A veteran of the café industry and graduate of Western Michigan University, Jeremy lives in Seattle where can often be found making sandwiches from whatever is left in the fridge and cracking wise for the amusement of his adoring wife Amanda.