This was my second visit to Coffee Fest...
and I'm sure won't be my last. Compared to my first experience a few new things have occurred to me about the show itself that I didn't experience the first time (Anaheim in 2016). These things are all based solely on my position within the specialty coffee community, as well as the connections I've made over the past couple years.
If you're going to Coffee Fest expecting a miniature version of the Specialty Coffee Association's Expo you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Coffee Fest appears to be geared more towards those who work in, run, manage, or are opening a cafe. This means some of the larger players don't make it down, but this isn't saying they don't have some great presenters. Some of my favorites from the show were Diedrich Coffee Roasters, notNeutral, and Ally.
Coffee Fest also touts some pretty solid competitions and seminars. Whether you're interested in the World Latte Art Championship Open, America's Best Espresso, or America's Best Cold Brew, there is something for every kind of coffee enthusiast. The seminars range in topic pretty drastically. There are classes focused on social media for cafes, or more coffee focused experiences like Stump the Roaster.
A few of the highlights for me was running into not only fellow San Diego coffee community folks, but also meeting some new people. Particularly those I've followed on Instagram for quite some time, i.e. @unobstructed.art and @nicely. I also really enjoyed my time chatting with the fine folks at notNeutral. They were very open and excited to talk about all the amazing things they have in the works.
In the end my overall experience at Coffee Fest LA was positive. I do have only two critiques of the event. There was no good food. I'm sorry, but I can't drink coffee all day without something solid to eat. I'd love to see some local food trucks out front, and Los Angeles food trucks are on a whole new level.
The only other thing I wished is it was a bigger event. There were only four relatively small rows of vendors, I was able to walk the entire show floor in a matter of a couple hours. This sort of defeats the purpose of having it be a multiple day event. Bringing in more vendors will likely bring in more people. I'd love to see some of the major espresso machine players involved, as well as a few more local roasters. Maybe running a discount for presenters that are based in the city or the state of the show. All in all it was a great experience, and it always enlightening and fun to be in a room with hundreds of other specialty coffee fans.