The city of Providence, Rhode Island, hosted the eighth Mid-Atlantic Northeast Coffee Conference (MANE) this weekend. As a testament to the event’s growing popularity, for MANE 2014 the organizers moved it from its home for the last couple of years at the New Harvest Coffee roastery into the center of the city and the Rhode Island Convention Center. The roastery was just too small to host the event with its 250 attendees this year.
The event features hands-on workshops for things like espresso machine maintenance, latte art, hand brewing, and espresso extraction for the attendees, who travel from all over the eastern United States (and some as far as the West Coast) to be there. MANE also had a number of interactive panels on a variety of topics ranging from poverty at origin, starting a business, effects of rust on coffee production in Central America, building a business, and more.
Other sessions included in-depth explorations of various countries of origin like Guatemala, Brazil, and Rwanda. And with a batch brew pavilion sponsored by Wilbur Curtis and manned by Tyler Bruno, who was constantly pumping out a rotating selection of coffees, attendees were able to sample some excellent cups from roasters like George Howell, Equal Exchange, Swing’s Coffee, Irving Farm, and more.
New Harvest’s Rik Kleinfelt was responsible for organizing the event, though he was quick to point he couldn’t have done it without the help of his staff. Rik said he was very happy to have everyone in the center of his town where they would get to experience a little of the city while at MANE.
Unlike so many coffee events, there is no competition at MANE (well, except for a latte art throwdown after the keynote speech delivered by Tim Wendelboe, owner of the eponymous roaster and café in Oslo, Norway). MANE also doesn’t have a trade show or exhibition attached to it. It’s not about selling stuff. It really is just about the coffee. It attracts and fuels coffee professionals who want to learn, improve their skills, and build their coffee community.
One of the coolest things about MANE is that as a concept and a model, there’s no reason it has to be in the East Coast region. MANE can be a demonstration for what’s possible anywhere. Its success proves that a small group of passionate and committed people can create, support, and expand opportunities for coffee community anywhere.
As Troy Reynard from Cosmic Cup Coffee in Easton, Penn. ”another one of the event’s original organizers, and the original host ”said in his introduction for Tim’s keynote, œI can’t believe this. We started with 40 baristas and now [we’re so big] we’re at the freaking convention center! The event is scheduled to be back in Providence next fall, and if you have a chance, I’d highly recommend checking it out. It really is an example of the coffee community in action.