The largest coffee gathering in the Southeastern U.S. returned to Charlotte, N.C. to caffeinate the Carolinas.
BY ZECHARIAH MOSS
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
Photography by Emily Moss
No Filter Coffee Fest, the largest coffee gathering in the Southeastern United States, returned in late September for its 2022 edition. The festival started out with mostly local Charlotte, N.C.-based roasteries, but attendees now find their new favorite drinks from cities across the Carolinas, from the mountains of Asheville, N.C., to the coasts of Charleston, S.C. Some vendors come from as far as New York, and even bigger companies like Rishi Tea now make an appearance.
The magnitude of No Filter Coffee Fest’s growth since its debut in 2016 is impressive. It started out modestly with a dozen vendors, and there were over 60 at this year’s offering. No Filter has been going strong for six years, minus a few bumps along the way (i.e., 2020); it has always adapted and come back stronger than in previous years.
This was my third year attending, so I drafted my services as a volunteer for the event. Staff was incredible in their communication months in advance, leaving nothing in question on the day of the festival. A smooth-running event from behind the scenes matched the view from an attendee’s perspective.
Focus on Water Treatment and Recycling
Viewing the spectacle from both sides, first as a volunteer and then as an attendant, my appreciation has grown exponentially, especially in the waste and water treatment side of production. This year No Filter partnered with a local composting company, Crown Town Compost, to properly dispose of and reuse all the grounds from the coffee consumed. (This is something that isn’t normally a concern for your average festival attendant, but incredibly appreciated.)
Along with recycling, water treatment was a prominent theme in this year’s event, which was sponsored by Third Wave Water. The company also held a major time slot in the event’s Learning Lab seminar block. In addition to multiple panel discussions, attendants were treated to a variety of coffee equipment demos hosted by some big names in brewing, such as Baratza. If you were quick enough to get passes, VIP ticket holders got access an hour earlier than standard ticket holders. Local roasteries and sponsors also gave out goodies as extra incentives for getting in as VIPs.
Bookended with Fun
With a weekend full of entertainment, locals had their fill of coffee-fueled fun. The No Filter Coffee Fest was preceded by a friendly latte art competition, hosted by vendor Summit Coffee, where novices and professionals alike joined in on the festivities. Post-event was a festival first: an afterparty for all people in the coffee business spectrum. Hosted by Hex Coffee, the afterparty was a place for business owners new and old to connect, and a chance for café owners to meet with roasters to form future connections.
With over 700 tickets sold, this was the largest No Filter Coffee Fest in attendance thus far, in both vendors and ticket holders. The event’s leadership is changing hands after this year, so it will be intriguing to see how No Filter will grow with future endeavors.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A multi-generational native of North Carolina, Zechariah Moss quit the restaurant industry after a decade to pursue his love of creative writing. While unable to escape his love for coffee, he moonlights as a freelance copy/ghost writer for friends and businesses. His office can be found in multiple coffee shops across the Carolinas.