On September 16 and 17, La Marzocco organized the first Lisbon, Portugal, edition of their Out of the Box event. Here’s what happened during the two-day festival of competitions, coffee brewing, and parties.
BY TANYA NANETTI
SENIOR ONLINE CORRESPONDENT
Photos by Pipos
Portugal’s relationship with specialty coffee is complicated. New shops and roasters are opening up around the country every month; however, the scene is still almost entirely aimed at (and made up of) expats and tourists. In these cafés, English is the main language spoken; there’s an almost total lack of Portuguese labor working in the sector.
The lack of a “local“ specialty scene in Portugal means that few events are dedicated to specialty coffee throughout the year. After the sudden cancellation of the Lisbon Coffee Fest (scheduled for spring 2023), it seemed almost certain that the Portuguese capital would not have a festival this year.
Out of the Box and into Lisbon
That changed when La Marzocco announced the first edition of the Lisbon Out of the Box event for mid-September.
Out of the Box events have been held around the world since 2009. They mix lectures, coffee tastings, contests, new product introductions, parties, and more. Always slightly different, fun, and informative, these highly anticipated weekends are an opportunity to dig deep into the local coffee scene. Attendees get to learn something new about coffee, see old friends, and make new ones in an informal setting.
The Lisbon edition of Out of the Box was held at Sitio Alto de São João (a former logistics platform converted into a co-working space).
The event’s first day focused on hearing from coffee professionals. In the morning, a lecture on responsible sustainability was followed by an overview of the Portuguese coffee scene. After lunchtime, four female coffee professionals who work for local roasters and importers shared their experiences as women in the industry. Celeste Wong, a coffee professional and author known as The Girl in the Cafe, gave a lecture on communication and brand building.
In addition to the lectures, the central area hosted eight roasters showcasing their coffees, and the True Artisan Café, where four local cafés shared the space by preparing their signature drinks and offering small snacks.
Once the roasters and cafés closed their stands, it was time for the first party of the weekend. Disguised as a competition, the Oatly Café Cup brought out the spirit of fun.
Eight teams of three competed in fun rounds that included counting the money in a tip jar as fast as possible, accurately tossing a package of Oatly on a target, and stamping a ton of takeout cups. The prize? A bag of Oatly products (and a pair of “Post Milk Generation“ socks for all participants).
Competing for Gold
On the second day of the event, the central area featured seven new roasters and different drinks at the True Artisan Café. The highlight of the day, however, was the 2023 edition of the Portuguese AeroPress Competition on the main stage.
With its largest edition to date, the competition brought together nearly 50 people to fight for the coveted golden AeroPress and access to the world final. This year, the world final will be held in early December in Melbourne, Australia.
After hours of rounds, the tournament ended with the victory of Manuel Tiago Pereira, a local coffee lover. He defeated professionals and home baristas with his “inverted“ AeroPress recipe of coffee roasted by Vernazza Coffee Roasters (based in Porto).
As a grand finale, the Out of the Box weekend ended as many coffee events do: with a four-hour after-party, organized by La Marzocco. The party featured drinks, small bites, and a dance floor complete with a super fun DJ set.
It was the perfect way to end the event—forging new connections that will continue for years to come.
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.