Coffee, Coffee and More Coffee!

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 16: Guests with Andrea Illy (R) attend Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award Ceremony at United Nations on October 16, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for illy caffe)

I stopped eating pasta and cheese for several weeks – quite torturous – in preparation for over-indulging while in Italy for Host Milan. Yet, never would I have thought to refrain from drinking my daily cups of coffee despite both the New York Coffee Festival and the 2nd Ernesto Illy International Coffee Awards taking place in the days prior to Host Milan. And there were many, many superb coffees to be sampled at both events…

The 3rd New York Coffee Festival (13-15 October), which is a regionally-focused show for the most part, had a renewed vigor this year. There was an increased presence of coffee roasters – local, national and international – including Birch Coffee, Bluestone Lane, Brooklyn Roasting Company, Counter Culture, Dallis Bros, Devoción, Gotham Coffee, Irving Farm, Joe Coffee, Nobletree Coffee, Starbucks, Stumptown Coffee, and Toby’s Estate. Several cold brew companies also exhibited such as Califia Farms, Cold Brew Coffee Company, and Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur, which was provided a variety of coffee cocktails at the Coffee Bar. Numerous allied services companies the importing/exporting side such as Ally Coffee and Daterra Coffee; to commercial and consumer espresso machine and grinding manufacturers such as Alpha Dominche, Breville, La Marzocco, Malongo and San Remo; to accessories companies like Bodum and Chemex were also there. And tea companies like Bushwick, Art of Tea and Genuine Tea, also exhibited along with a few companies promoting cascara beverages.

The NYCF also offered interactive demonstrations, works, talks and tastings. While the show has a trade-only day (the opening day), it opens to the public the last two days. The NYCF is definitely geared to consumers who could taste a wide array of coffees from roaster retailers in their own “backyards,” which likely brought those companies exhibiting, many new fans. I appreciate the fact that as with previous New York Coffee Festivals, show founder Jeffrey Young said that 100% of all standard ticket sales would go to Project Waterfall (via local partner charity: water) to provide clean drinking water in coffee countries.

The 2nd Annual Ernesto Illy International Coffee Awards were held in New York City on 16 October. I love this event as it honors the growers and is designed to make them feel distinguished and truly appreciated. The Ernesto Lilly International Coffee Award, named for illy’s second-generation leader, recognizes excellence in raising coffee of the highest quality through sustainable means.

Coffee beans grown by Honduras’s José Abelardo Díaz Enamorado won the “Best of the Best” at the 2017 Ernesto Illy International Coffee Award. (See full story on The top-scoring coffee lot was named from among 27 of the world’s best lots from the 2016-17 harvests in nine countries. Illy is making each of the nine finalists’ beans available for purchase as a single origin next year at select illy Caffè locations.

A “Coffee Lovers Choice” award, sponsored by illy partner, United Airlines (determined by blind consumer tastings), was awarded to Juan Carlos Alvarez from Costa Rica.

Illy brought representatives of all 27 finalists to New York City for the proceedings at the United Nations, followed by a gala at the historic New York Public Library (the site for character Carrie Bradshaw’s failed wedding in the Sex and the City movie) to honour the extraordinary achievements of all growers. For many of the producers, it was not only their first time to NYC, but the first time out of their home countries. It’s always wonderful to interact with the producers, and seeing them “let loose” at the gala, was fun — the awards ceremony and speeches officially ended around 10pm but the festivities – ample coffee sampling from the nine finalist countries and even more dancing – lasted until midnight. While I didn’t dance, I believe I consumed coffee from all nine countries!

After the awards, I closed our November issue and hopped on a plane for Host Milan for more coffee (and some tea) — I’ll discuss that in my next blog as I’m out of room and time!

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