After great success with the Amsterdam Coffee Festival and the London Coffee Festival, Allegra Events debuts the New York Coffee Festival
FROM STAFF REPORTS
For its first stateside venture, the New York Coffee Festival, Allegra Events chose an historic building in the 69th Regiment Armory near New York’s Madison Square Park. In truth, however, the event ”which took place September 25 “27 ”was very much of the moment, delivering a snapshot of what the city’s specialty coffee scene feels like right now: hip, energetic, and in the midst of growth.
Upwards of 8,000 attendees packed into the spacious Armory for a three-day festival that had no shortage of activities, including
- A trade show featuring more than 60 exhibitor booths
- Coffee Masters NYC, an elaborate barista competition structured in a head-to-head format
- A stacked roster of talks and workshops in The Lab, located in a wood-paneled and elaborately muraled basement room
- The Coffee Music Project, featuring a steady stream of performers (most of them acoustic singer-songwriters) playing on the Music Stage at the center of the show floor
The New York Coffee Festival is the work of Allegra Events, the U.K.-based producer of coffee gatherings including the London Coffee Festival, the European Coffee Symposium, the Amsterdam Coffee Festival, and other coffee related events. Jeffrey Young, managing director of parent company Allegra Strategies, says the company chose to bring the event to New York because of what he saw in the city’s coffee culture. œI feel like it’s an exciting time for New York coffee, he says. œIt’s a great city ”it has so much energy, and it also has an incredible spirit of community.
Equipment manufacturers and roasting companies made up a large contingent of the exhibition floor, with the roasters possessing an international flair ”London’s Workshop Coffee and Caravan Coffee Roasters, as well as Berlin’s The Barn Coffee Roasters, set up alongside U.S. roasters like La Colombe and Café Grumpy. Starbucks also had a large presence, with its Reserve Bar prominently placed at the event’s center.
While the vibrant event was described by some as a œcoffee party, the beverage wasn’t the weekend’s sole focus: Young says charity is a key component of the event, and as with its London and Amsterdam festivals, half of the proceeds from ticket sales benefited Project Waterfall, an Allegra-created initiative dedicated to bringing clean water to coffee-producing countries. œThe DNA of our event is coffee, charity, music, and food, Young says. œCharity is great and we want to give people the opportunity to help, but we also want to deliver it in a fun environment.
The event also distinguished itself in its attendee makeup. While Friday’s proceedings were open only to the coffee industry, the festival opened to the public for Saturday and Sunday. The turnout was enormous, with coffee enthusiasts clogging the aisles. Young says his team painstakingly marketed the event, visiting New York’s vast roster of coffee companies and creating promotional postcards for retailers to distribute to their customers. The promotion worked, but Young says the growth potential is huge for what will now be an annual event. œWe’ve had so many good people helping us along the way, and we got somewhere that’s quite magical, he says. œBut I also think that this is only 15 to 20 percent of where we can get to with this event. This is a journey we’re on, and now we have a lot of the infrastructure and contacts in place to keep growing.