New York Coffee Festival, Manhattan. October 13 – 15, 2017.
When I visit art museums, I stare at paintings for a long time. I look at all the details, including brushstrokes. I read all accompanying descriptions. This was my approach to the festival. Day 1 (Friday), I only made it through part of the first floor – there were two other floors. I returned for a bit on Saturday and at the end on Sunday to cover the rest of the first floor where most the vendors were. I’ve broken down the festival visit into two posts. This first post consists of excerpts from Day 1.
There’s a long line. I have a pass which allows me to walk to the front. Shortly after 2 pm the doors open. The swarm of coffee enthusiasts flood into the building. I’m one of the first people inside. Fresh coffee permeates the air. I don’t have a plan other than I know I want to talk to the people at KeepCup.
The first booth I walked up to is Underline Coffee. A blond-haired barista is preparing samples. We start talking. He’s receptive to what I say and agrees there is a discrepancy between sustainability at the farming and shop levels. I’m offered some of the Kenyan brew. As he begins pouring it into a small (paper) cup, I’m thinking how I wish I had a reusable for sampling. There’s going to be so much (unnecessary) waste from this event. I make a note to myself to contact the festival organizers to help work on the sustainability of the venue next year (like including a branded reusable mug for sampling as part of the ticket cost). I’m going to hold on to this paper cup and use it for the rest of the event.
I also have a taste of the Guatemalan, but refuse the other sample, “I want to be able to sleep tonight!” The woman next to me light-heartedly acknowledges how caffeinated she’s going to be at the end. We laugh and start talking, almost immediately bonding over our shared passion for sustainability. Her upbeat positive energy is refreshing. I find out her name is Amy, she’s from California and a human rights lawyer. Amy is moving to NYC next year. We exchange contacts and plan to meet when she’s here.
I see the distinctive yellow color for of the Devoción logo. I go up to their booth hoping Steven (owner) is there. There’s a tall, broad shouldered man with soft brown eyes standing in front of the display. “Are you Steven?” I ask. “Yes.” I introduce myself, telling him about my post featuring his store and recommendations from the visit.
There’s a tech company here, SpeedETab. It’s a system to help reduce service time. I speak with Adam, co-founder. I’m interested in using technology to encourage a BYO mentality. We exchange details and he suggests I talk to some of the places using the system about piloting some rewards scheme. They give me a black reusable bag with white lettering across it: “F*** Lines” it reads. Couldn’t agree more.
I head over to Toby’s Estate – Adam told me they use SpeedETab. I meet Jessica who works at their head office. She likes the idea of a rewards scheme but explains her experience with the difficulty of implementing a pilot across their stores. She tells me to keep in touch as things move along.
I finally see KeepCup and beam-line over. I begin talking with Sandy, discussing potential collaboration ideas. She shows me this slick clear plastic cup with a black cap and white sleeve – they’re introducing this line soon. We agree it’s something we could see New Yorkers using – Sandy’s only reservation is the white sleeve. She thinks black would be better, masking scuffs and wear and tear. Sandy takes my details so she can send me some samples.
I see the colorful letters of the Brooklyn Roasting Company and head there. They’re on my shop hop list. I’d like to visit them know because I know they’re interested in sustainability. I read before coming to NYC they were involved in a project called Good To Go Cup (like a bike-share program but for cups). I’m greeted at the booth by a man with an Australian accent, Dan. He maintains a great enthusiasm throughout our conversation. He tells me the company likes to be pioneers; being the first to try new things, including in areas related to sustainability. He explains how they try to be fun and different, providing examples from things like the bold colors on their log to a recent publication of a comic book covering the rich history of coffee. Dan grabs a copy to show me. We plan on continuing our conversation at the Jay Street Store.
It’s past 6 pm. I can’t drink any more coffee. I’m going to have to come back tomorrow to finish this floor.