Back to caffeinate the Big Apple: the NY Coffee Festival returns!

When the New York Coffee Festival (NYCF) premiered in New York City in 2015, it was definitely a different type of coffee show. The three-day event featured coffee (and some tea) exhibitors, education sessions (interactive demonstrations, workshops, talks and tastings), a latte art competition, a sensory experience, and coffee-related machinery/products, etc. – all typical of most coffee shows – the NYCF but also introduced the Coffee Music Project and the Coffee Art Project, which showcased established and emerging talent from the metropolitan area, as well as the Coffee Cocktail Bar.

The NY Coffee Festival was held through 2019 until the Covid pandemic derailed the show in 2020 and 2021. It returned this year, taking place from 7-9 October at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan, featuring all the components attendees enjoyed at the previous shows. While this year’s NYCF felt smaller than its last pre-pandemic show, there were many new exhibitors including the Brazil Specialty Coffee Association, Blank Street Coffee, Caribbrew, Counter Culture, Variety Coffee Roasters, Minor Figures, Arteao Tea, and VNLLA Extract Co/Symrise Flavors.

Other new exhibitors included Queens-based Mighty Oak Coffee that fire roasts its beans; Farmingdale (Long Island)-based Flux Coffee, whose packaging not only shows when the coffee was roasted, but also the importer and type of roasting machine used; and female-owned and operated Nguyen Coffee Supply, which was highlighting its RTD cold brew made with Robusta beans. Returning exhibitors included Bluestone Lane Coffee, Sweetleaf Coffee Roasters, Bodum, Slayer Espresso Machines, Dona Tea, Rishi Tea, and Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur, among many others.

Baileys Deliciously Light Liqueur, which recently partnered with Lavazza Coffee to promote five cold brew coffee cocktails using Baileys and four of Lavazza’s RTD coffee SKUs (Classic Cold Brew, Nitro Cold Brew, Cappuccino Cold Brew with Milk, and Double Shot Cold Brew with Oat Milk), had a booth and was offering samples of the RTD coffee cocktails, as well as a matcha/Baileys cocktail (both were quite tasty!).

Showing how consumer tastes have changed, nearly every coffee vendor offered a non-dairy milk option (almond or oat milk) for their espresso-blended beverages along with the dairy option.

One interesting new exhibitor was Zing, a startup that aims to bring the ‘premium city café experience’ to the suburbs. The fleet of Zing mobile trucks operate in North New Jersey and bring ‘coffee on demand’ to central locations in neighbourhoods — not to downtown city or business district areas so as not to compete with cafés and coffee shops. Rather, the Zing mobiles will situate themselves near schools and parks. Consumers order the coffee via an app, which shows where the closest truck can be and the time it will take for it to arrive at the location. “Our goal is to bring the social atmosphere a city coffee shop or café offers – as well as great coffee – to the suburbs, only walkable,” said Avishai Shoham, CEO of Zing.

The NY Coffee Festival maintains its charitable component as 100% of profits are donated to Project Waterfall, partnering with NYC-based charity: water to deliver life-changing water projects in coffee-growing regions. Festival founder Jeffrey Young noted that in partnership with charity: water since in 2014, the New York and Los Angeles Coffee Festivals, have raised over USD $280,000 and reached more than 7,800 people with clean drinking water in Rwanda and Ethiopia.

After a ‘sleepy’ last couple of years, it was fun to see the ‘city that never sleeps’ buzzed on coffee again!

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