Business World

What happens in Coffee Fest Vegas...

For years our editors have been attending Coffee Fest held at various East Coast locations, Seattle, and Las Vegas. Through its history, the organizers have moved the show around the U.S. and have recently settled on Seattle, Las Vegas, and Chicago as their host cities. Weíve seen attendance mushroom these last few years: David Heilbrunn, Coffee Festís organizer, says itís growing by almost 20% yearly. Las Vegas exhibitors in 2004 increased by 55% from last year.

This past June, I attended the Las Vegas Coffee Fest and was absolutely astounded - at the number of attendees and exhibitors, and at the high quality of both the educational series and its pupils. Speakers were highly qualified and poured their heart and soul into their presentations. The information was priceless, and I hope to print several of those speeches in Tea & Coffee over the next few months. The audience was above par - these are people who have done their research. I saw the nods attendees gave when they were in agreement with the speakers; I saw the nudges they gave their colleagues to punctuate what they heard. These attendees really knew their tea and coffee - and lapped up all the new information they could with relish. While most of the attendees came from the West Coast, itís clear that this show had quite a bit of international attendance. I was seriously impressed at how far Coffee Fest has come from its domestic coffee retail roots.

Several years ago, I stated in the magazine that the U.S. specialty coffee market was saturated and that if companies wanted to expand, they should look outside the U.S. Well, this show was the final straw that really convinced me I was hasty in making that pronouncement. There were numerous potential retailers scouring Coffee Festís aisles for ideas and products. The sheer number of interested entrepreneurs pointed to the fact that coffee bars and specialty shops are still opening all around the country, with no end in sight. This show invigorated me and assured me this industry is thriving.

I know the Seattle Coffee Fest in October will be huge - it was always the largest Coffee Fest venue in the past. I am looking forward to it - and you should be, too. Coffee Fest is one show not to miss for anyone considering entering or supplying the retail market.

Did I mention my babysitter won $800 at craps?

Jane McCabe
Editor & Co-Publisher

Tea & Coffee - July/August, 2004

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