No Shortage of Caffeine at Coffee Festival


Toby’s Estate was one of the many vendors at NYCF. PHOTO BY: ALYSHA KUNDANMAL / THE OBSERVER


Coffee connoisseurs gathered at the 69th Regiment Armory the weekend of Sept. 25-27 for the inaugural New York Coffee Festival. Attendees ranged from industry professionals looking to expand their brands and make connections to eager and curious consumers salivating in anticipation of unlimited coffee samples.  

According to the event’s website, “more than 10,000 visitors [were] expected from the USA and abroad,” with the first day of the event open exclusively to industry professionals. Tickets for the event were either standard, VIP or multi-day. The standard ticket prices ranged from $20-$25, while the VIP tickets ranged from $45-$55. The only multi-day option was also bundled with VIP status costing between $60-$75. VIP perks included a commemorative tote bag, a book about coffee and expedited entry through a VIP door.

The event space itself was filled with local and national vendors sampling various coffees and teas, coffee equipment and accessories for sale as well as many musicians performing live music. Other activities included brewing workshops, demonstrations and a barista competition.

Local roasting companies and wholesalers (some with retail shops in the city) accounted for the majority of vendors. Some of them included: Gregory’s Coffee, Toby’s Estate, Counter Culture Coffee and Irving Farm. On the other hand, coffee conglomerate Starbucks was also present with a booth labeled “Starbucks Reserve.” Many of the professionals from the local companies were bothered that Starbucks was trying to rebrand itself as more artisanal by introducing a new “reserve” blend. Some expressed disdain that such a large chain was encroaching into a space filled with mostly local businesses.

Bearded and bespectacled baristas could be seen brewing behind counters using various machines – most of them for large scale commercial use, but some practical for home use. The most common apparati used were standard espresso machines and cone pour-overs. However, the most unique and interesting machine was the iPad-controlled syphon press system used by Alpha Dominche. This system is conceptually similar to a french press, but it is automated based on the brew instructions and recipe programmed into the iPad. The only thing a barista needs to do to use it is measure out the ground coffee beans, and place them into the glass chamber; the machine does the rest – it even cleans itself!

For those of legal drinking age, there were also some coffee inspired libations. The Espresso Martini Bar featured samples of an espresso martini which contained coffee-infused vodka, white chocolate liqueur and whipped cream. Another vendor called Magnum advertised its own self-titled liqueur boasting that it has beaten Bailey’s Irish Cream in every taste competition.

Attendees of the first New York Coffee Festival certainly left feeling a strong buzz from the caffeine, alcohol and impressive exhibition.