If you missed the third annual Coffee & Tea Festival this year in New York City, you need to put this into your calendar for next year. A two-day event that has been featured on the Food Network, the festival was held at The Metropolitan Pavilion on West 18th street in the Chelsea area of Manhattan.
The venue was just the right size, filled with enough vendors and activities to keep you sufficiently entertained, and yet not overwhelmed like events at some of the larger venues. To some unfamiliar with the scale that New York City tends to do things, let me give you a few facts. The Metropolitan Pavilion in total is 30,000 square feet whereas the Jacob Javits Center is 675,000 square feet. Enough said.
With plenty of tastings, lectures, demonstrations, film and entertainment, there was something for everyone, especially a coffee-lover like me. Here are the highlights of my day.
It began with being greeted by the Real Coffee Corp, a major sponsor, giving out samples of their Bellagio sipping chocolate, cappuccino and other offerings. With a small café area set up, it was a nice place to take a break and sample their wares.
There were many samples of coffee being handed out throughout. Another favorite of mine was an instant--yes you heard right—called La Paz, a Mexican style coffee with brown sugar and cinnamon.
Coffee paraphernalia along with cups of espresso were making a good showing as well. La Rossa Azzurra was demonstrating espresso systems and displaying cup sets for your buying pleasure. Soltazza was also represented showing the unique features of their pod-style machine featured in the suites of the Crown Plaza and the Mandarin Oriental hotels.
While we all enjoy coffee, you cannot drink a cup without being socially conscious and considering the path to your cup.
I stopped by the Cup for Education booth and met Karen Gordon. Ms. Gordon is the director of CHC (Coffee Holding Company) and founder of Cup for Education, a non-profit group whose mission is, “… to help poor rural coffee communities of Central and Latin America build schools within their communities, and assist in providing them with teachers and the basic tools needed to educate the future generations of coffee farmers.”
If you wanted to catch a movie, “From the Ground Up” was one to see. This was a beautifully done film by Su Friedrich, which was being shown continuously throughout the festival. Like a silent observer, it shows the startling differences in the journey of coffee, from its rudimentary beginnings with under-age farm hands to your cup, letting you be the judge.
I was amused to see the Psychic Visions booth and decided to stop by for a Coffee Bean reading. Samantha specializes in Palmistry, Tarot Card, Psychic Reading, Aromatherapy and Meditation. She poured the beans from a glass vial into my hand and instructed me to drop them slowly onto the table. Like a tea leaf reading, the pattern that is left speaks to her. When I sat down, I was prepared to be entertained but was blown away by the accuracy with which Samantha immediately reached into my life. She then gave me an inkling of what the future holds. Samantha is obviously gifted. If you would like your own personal reading or invite her to your next event, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There was even coffee art—no not in your cup, but paintings by Theresa Kasun, an artist whose designs have been featured on products such as oven mitts, kitchen towels and the like in Bed Bath and Beyond as well as Linens & Things. The paintings of coffee and tea cups along with delicious desserts looked good enough to eat.
Coffee & Tea Infused Cocktails was a very popular demo with a very motivated crowd. While most of the crowd was interested in the making of the cocktails, many more were interested in getting a free sample.
Presented by author and journalist Kara Newman and Mixologist, Benoit Cornet, from Sanctuary Tea, we learned the process of infusing alcoholic beverages such as gin and vodka with coffee and tea. We also learned to make simple syrup and what combinations best complimented coffee or tea. There were free samples of the drinks distributed. Bottles of Café Boheme, a blend of vodka with crème and vanilla were also distributed which seemed to bring out a temporary loss of sanity or at least a showing of bad manners with some pushing and shoving to get to the bottles.
Francine Segan’s demo, Cooking with Coffee, was the highlight of the day for me. Ms. Segan is a food historian, author of four cookbooks, with appearances on the Food Network, and Food In Film for the Tribeca Film Festival with Stanley Tucci and Isabella Rossellini. Her presentation was informative, sprinkled with humor and samplings.
Of course, all good things must come to an end and what better end than to receive a goodie bag filled with what else but all things coffee and tea as well as other items loosely related, like gum and snacks.
For more information about the festival including the exhibitors mentioned, go to http://www.coffeeandteafestival.com.