On Holiday: The Search for Satisfying Festival Coffee

One music festival attendee's attempt to find good coffee nearby results in discovering a hidden gem in a small town.

A plain paper coffee cup sits on a wood table under an outdoor festival tent. Two men are seated at another table in the background.

One music festival attendee’s attempt to find good coffee nearby results in discovering a hidden gem in a small town.

BY TANYA NANETTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT

Photos by Tanya Nanetti

When I reached the ticket booth at Punk Rock Holiday in Slovenia this year, I was even more excited than I have been in years previous. I had had tickets for the show for three years, and in the meantime, the world basically went crazy: a pandemic, a big war, and many other troubles. You can understand my excitement when I finally arrived! I missed live music, I missed camping by the river, and I even missed the cheap festival food. What I certainly didn’t miss was the coffee: In all the years I’ve attended the festival, it has always been too dark, too bitter, and just bad.  

Nevertheless, deep in my heart I was sure that one of these years the coffee offer at the Punk Rock Holiday would change, for good. After all, it’s a pretty big festival (by punk rock standards). It’s based in Slovenia and a big chunk of the audience is made up of Germans, Czech, and Dutch, all of whom are often fond of a good cup of specialty coffee. In recent months, I have seen specialty coffee reach many music festivals around the world, even in countries where the specialty-coffee scene is just at the beginning, which happened in July when Ditta Artigianale made its appearance at Firenze Rock in Italy. 

An Iced Coffee Surprise

When I walked into the festival and took my first trip to the food court, I was quite curious to see if anything had changed in the coffee offerings. I was surprised to see that not only was the classic coffee corner offering coffee this year, but so was the burger joint! They had an interesting “iced coffee” listed as the last item on the menu. Too excited to wait until the next morning to try it, I ordered one, just to break the heat of the day. 

A brochure describing the iced coffee drink at the burger joint inside the festival food court.
The Punk Rock Holiday burger joint’s brochure for iced coffee with milk and sugar.

I had no big expectations, but I certainly didn’t imagine the iced coffee being stored in the fridge … in a carton. And it was very sweet, milky, and satisfying.

The next morning, while I was still shocked by the sweetness of the iced coffee, my friends and I approached the classic coffee corner—the one that was always there, as far as I remember. They offered the typical coffee options: Americano, espresso, and cappuccino. I wondered if, by any chance, something could have changed in the last few years. But nope, it was still the same: a bitter and burned dark roast. 

A Local Coffee Shop Saves the Day with Satisfying Brews

Quite depressed by the poor quality, we left the festival for a morning stroll around town. We were in desperate need of more coffee, so we stopped at a small coffee shop: nothing pretentious, just a classic local place open until late in the evening. Their menu had a bit of everything: cheap spirits, ham and cheese toast, cappuccinos, and ice cream. 

A cappuccino in a white porcelain cup, on a saucer with a silver spoon, flanked by a clear glass of water.
A real cappuccino from a local shop is incredibly refreshing after bad festival coffee.

Having reached the point of resignation, we ordered two cappuccinos, again without any expectation. But this time they were creamy, served at the right temperature, and even came with a touch of latte art: two hearts. 

It may have been nothing special, but after all the bad coffee I’ve had at the fest in years past, it was perfect anyway. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tanya Nanetti (she/her) is a specialty-coffee barista, a traveler, and a dreamer. When she’s not behind the coffee machine (or visiting some hidden corner of the world), she’s busy writing for Coffee Insurrection, a website about specialty coffee that she’s creating along with her boyfriend.

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