This September, the New York Coffee Festival is back for its second run in the city. After a successful launch last year, founder Jeffrey Young is excited to be back and share the art of coffee with thirsty New Yorkers.
From Sept. 16 to 18 — three glorious days of coffee heaven — the 69th Regiment Armory will once again transform into a mecca devoted to all things coffee. This means tastings of different roasts, learning how to make the perfect cup of java (using the right coffee maker), food to keep you going, and so much more.
For entertainment you’ll also find The Coffee Music Project, a music competition for emerging musicians sharing a passion for making great music and coffee culture, as well as Coffee Masters New York, where 16 carefully chosen contenders from around the world meet to compete in fast-paced challenges such as “The Brewing” and “The Signature Drink.”
Downtown caught up with founder Jeffrey Young to hear his thoughts on last year’s festival and what to expect this year.
Jeffrey Young / Photo courtesy of Gcrmag.com
Coming back for your second year, what’s new for this year’s festival?
Jeffrey Young: We will have more than 30 new vendors, a new Latte Art Live showcase and we hope to double the attendance this year to more than 12,000 visitors.
Lookout also for Bailey’s coffee cocktail experience, also the 75th anniversary of Chemex, Exquisite Brazilian coffees from Ally Coffee, plus so many more.
Looking at last year’s event — it being the launch of the New York Coffee Festival — what is something that went over better than you’d expected?
JY: The community feels that we observed and the fact that an event like this for coffee had never been created before in New York City. The genuine surprise from the vendors and visitors that this was much better than they imagined, a multi-sensory experience. Also, the free coffee for all visitors once they enter, it allows visitors to taste and explore coffees from all around the world.
And that’s something that you’d have liked to have done differently?
JY: More time and also a larger venue, plus creating greater awareness of the wonderful lab educational seminars that are free to the audience. We are also spending more time this year in further improving the aesthetics of the event.
What did you take with you from last year’s festival when planning this year’s festival?
JY: Working closely with the vendors behind the scenes to ensure the smooth running of the logistics pre-event so that we can focus more on the outstanding delivery of visitor experience.
Staying on that topic, what is one of your favorite moments from last year’s launch?
JY: Seeing the whole thing come to life and the enjoyment and surprise that guests experienced by being at the event. From The Coffee Music Project — music stage — to the Coffee Masters competition, the Coffee Cocktail Espresso Martini Bar, plus all the tastings at the various booths, especially the long lines at Devocion for their Colombian cold brew potion and Bluestone Lane’s latte art throwdown and too many more to mention and La Marzocco’s guest barista demonstrations.
What do you hope the trade professionals take away from the festival?
JY: That this is an exciting industry, rapidly-growing with much more growth to come. There is so much room for those who innovate and for those who strive to be the best. Today’s consumers want quality.
What is one of the workshops you’re most excited to have on this year’s program – and why?
JY: The science of water for great coffee by Everpure will be fascinating, as will be the history of coffee shops in New York by Meister from café imports.
How do you choose which coffee and/or equipment vendors partake in the Festival?
JY: We have more demand for booths than we can cater for so only those who we see as genuine innovators who have something special to offer will be selected to take part.
And how do you choose the bands for the Festival?
JY: The Coffee Music Project, which will have preliminary access at Pianos and finals at Webster Hall, provides a very exciting array of talented singer-songwriters from New York City and around the U.S.
When you had to decide the venue, how did you find the place?
JY: The 69th Regiment Armory was a natural choice because it has the right non-corporate feel for such a large central Manhattan event venue. The only downside is that it’s almost not big enough to host all the vendors we would like to add.
The London Coffee Festival 2015
What’s different from the New York festival compared to London and Amsterdam? What makes New York — and Downtown Manhattan, in general –- such a great place to host a coffee festival?
JY: New York has an energy that no other city in the world can match. It’s also the most caffeinated city on the planet so a great starting point for a festival. We try to adapt the model to the local market. Hence local New York roasters feature prominently as do cold brew, iced lattes, and matcha.
When all is said and done with this year’s festival, what do you hope the guests take away from it this year?
JY: That this is a local community event made for the tens of thousands of coffee lovers in this great city. Come and celebrate the beverage that inspires us to do what we do in our daily lives while also giving back to a great cause of clean water. Together, we can have a lot of fun and make a difference. The world is a better place because of coffee and coffee shops.
Read more about the New York Coffee Festival on their website, and see how to get tickets, event times and more. If this doesn’t have you jonesing for a cup of joe right now, we don’t know what will!