The first virtual Coffee Fest is taking place this week, on Wednesday, Aug. 26 and Thursday, Aug. 27, offering a range of meeting rooms and breakout spaces connecting all combinations of exhibitors and buyers throughout the specialty coffee industry.
Free to attend through a simple six-question registration, the virtual event will also offer a some educational webinars on some timely issues surrounding the industry, including tools for business survival in the upcoming months; a conversation about race with Phyllis Johnson of BD Imports and Quincy Henry of Campfire Coffee; mobile ordering innovation; and coffee-buying strategies in uncertain times, with Cafe Imports.
The attendee portal allows users to set and track their own agenda. Users can also express interest in individual exhibitors, people or products in order to set up live online meetings. (Full disclosure: Roast is an exhibitor, so feel free to swing by the virtual booth and say hello!)
Coffee Fest owner Clarion Events announced the launch of the To Go platform while also unfortunately announcing the cancellation of the popular Coffee Fest PNW 2020 show due to COVID-19. That show was originally scheduled to take place in October, but was made impossible by public health mandates from the city of Tacoma, Washington.
“We see and feel the impact that this pandemic is having on specialty coffee businesses and restaurants – both now and in the future. While ultimately it was not our decision to cancel our event in Tacoma, we understand and believe that it is not possible at this time to safely host an event that brings people together,” Coffee Fest Portfolio Director Erika Lowery said in an announcement made earlier this month. “Our hearts are with the specialty coffee community and we will continue to support it in as many ways as we can to ensure it successfully rebounds from this pandemic in time.”
In addition to Coffee Fest To Go, the organizers have launched a weekly webinar series, a Facebook community group, a new barista challenge series in partnership with Lotus Energy, a series of barista master chats in partnership with Slow Pour Supply, and a COVID-19 resource center.
There are four in-person Coffee Fest events scheduled to take place next year, including New York (March), San Antonio (June), Anaheim, California (August) and PNW (tbd). Registration for Coffee Fest To Go is available here.