Coffee Fest is one of the most important tradeshows in the coffee industry. In fact, there are many that view it as the best coffee tradeshow. Since the early nineties, it has taken place all over the country and across the world and serves just about anyone involved with coffee, tea, and any related products. Annnnnnd right now, Coffee Fest Portland is going on!
Throughout the weekend-long tradeshow you can tour the show floor and meet all kinds of coffee vendors, you can find your way into classes that can be anything from a discussion about sourcing coffee to a presentation on barista customer service, and you can stop and take some time to watch the Latte Art Championships in which baristas are judged on aesthetic beauty, definition, color infusion, degree of difficulty/creativity, and speed of their latte art. Most importantly, you get to meet up with all of your coffee geek friends.
There have always been other elements that make it something special at each tradeshow, each year. In many cases, there will be underground latte art competitions or barista jams in which coffee friends can get together, have a few beers and do what they love – make coffee and do it just for the passion and thrill. We’ve been to a few jam sessions and they are definitely more about the good times and therefore judged on things like: the vessel where the latte art is created, the trash-talking you’re able to dish out, and then (of course) the actual latte art. There is a sense of community to it all. Our little coffee community.
In other instances, there may be a drink-making competition. One year Ghirardelli put on a drink-making contest in a swanky little bar. Drinks ranged from a basic mocha, to a Valencia-inspired mocha, and even to a chorizo garnished caramel mocha. Again, a community made up of our coffee contemporaries.
There is something special about it all, specifically the fall shows in the Northwest. The energy and excitement is something memorable and one we enjoy whenever we can make it back.
If you’ve never been, you should check it out sometime; in February there will be one in Atlanta and in June there will be one in Chicago, and every fall there is always an excuse to hit up the Northwest (whether it is in Seattle or Portland) and see an amazing area with an amazing coffee scene.
For us, we’ll probably have to make a trip to one real soon. We haven’t been in awhile and probably need to catch up with some old faces, meet new friends, and experience the culture of it all once again.