The New York Coffee Festival Celebrates a Fifth Year of Caffeine Frenzy in the City

Industry professionals and coffee consumers gathered in the Big Apple to attend the New York Coffee Festival for drinks, discussion, and live entertainment.


Photos courtesy of Allegra Events

The New York Coffee Festival returned to Chelsea, Manhattan’s Metropolitan Pavilion this past weekend, October 11-13, for its fifth consecutive year. Throughout the three days, it attracted 11,100 attendees and raised over $250,000 for charity: water, making for a raging success of an event.

The Roast Masters competition replaced the popular Coffee Masters event this year at the New York Coffee Festival.

Four floors of the hall were filled with coffee, tea, alcohol, chocolate, street food, equipment, competitions, discussions, films, and much more. Industry professionals and enthusiasts alike came out in droves to sample, learn, and check out all the action. Once again, all event profits benefited Project Waterfall as the organization continues its mission “to bring clean water, sanitation and education to coffee-growing communities.”

For the 2019 installment, the widely lauded Coffee Masters competition was replaced by the new Roast Masters tournament, which debuted at Amsterdam’s iteration of the fest earlier this year. Twenty-five roasters from across North America squared off over three days in this exciting new format in which they presented their own espresso blends, cupped single origins supplied by Armenia Coffee, and prepared pourovers under time limitations with finesse. The winners of the competition were Elixr Coffee’s Rodrigo Vargas and Brian Lam.

In the main exhibition area of floor one, amazing displays from many presenters drew long lines. Mr. Black’s beautiful bar build-out served up Negronis made with their cold brew liqueur. Variety Coffee’s Camp Variety booth hosted festival goers around a campfire with s’more mochas, while Oatly’s affogatos were moving fast all weekend. Think Coffee’s transparent pricing graphics lining the walls got lots of positive attention, and Partners Coffee made their first NYCF appearance since rebranding to prepare drinks on a La Marzocco KB90.

An art show takes place every year at the New York Coffee Festival.

Latte Art Live kept the energy high all weekend with instructionals by Ujae Lee, Emilee Bryant, and Jenna Gotthelf, and Joseph Gonzalez emceeing the events. Competition was fierce, with contestants using the new Almond Breeze Barista Collection.

Jessica Do Tully, creator of the Palmpress, had a very busy weekend. She sold out of every one of her travel-friendly new collapsible brewers on Friday, and crowds kept gathering on Saturday and Sunday to see it in use and purchase their own online (myself included).

The pourover-focused Brew Bar hosted a revolving door of roasters each day, including the soon-to-open Harken Coffee from Vancouver, B.C. Head roaster Stacey Lynden enthusiastically informed the crowd about her her anaerobic Ethiopian Guji while director of operations Eldric Stuart prepared it, isolating the bloom and running the finished product through a wine aerator.

This year, the NYCF had live cooking demonstrations at The Kitchen.

With two Lab spaces and stacked schedules for all three days, there was no shortage of in-depth discussion and education at NYCF. Matt Banbury of Counter Culture Coffee led a panel discussing the impact of climate change on coffee growers, while Jenna Gotthelf, also of Counter Culture, spoke on barista sustainability. Sahra Nguyen, founder of Brooklyn, N.Y.’s own Nguyen Coffee Supply, aimed to change people’s perceptions of Vietnamese coffee in her talk that ended with a demonstration of the Phin brewing method using her new 100% peaberry robusta Grit offering.

Tommy McLarney is a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based barista, bartender, and bicyclist. He’ll do anything that starts with the letter “B.” Find him on Twitter, if you like real bad jokes.

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