Our fearless leader Heather Allen was happy to return for the second annual Los Angeles Coffee Festival at The Magic Box @ The Reef in Downtown L.A. on Sunday November 10th. Read on to hear all about the festival’s involvement with the arts, scene stealing sponsors, and fun new editions to the overall experience.
“We’re super excited to be back for another Los Angeles Coffee Festival to celebrate coffee, culture and charity in the vibrant city of LA. Year two boasts an exciting line-up of features, including the prestigious Coffee Masters USA competition, which will take place in the West Coast for the first time this year and LA’s hottest chefs will be on the menu at The Kitchen. We can’t wait to see you there!”Allegra Group CEO – Jeffrey Young
Diving Into The Arts @ LACF
The Los Angeles Coffee Festival once again included many opportunities for art to shine in the form of visual experiences such as Latte Art Live, The Movie Room, The Music Stage featuring Coffee Music Project performers, and the wonderfully impressive Coffee Art Project gallery.
Latte art is an underrated art form that has grown into a well-respected aspect of the coffee world. Not only were attendees able to see many a skilled barista showcase their talents during Latte Art Live, but they also held a nail-biting three-day Coffee Masters battle between sixteen coffee experts until Carlos de la Torre of Mexico’s Café con Jiribilla took home the crown.
Coffee Music Project Spotlights Local Artists
The Music Stage was once again perfectly located at the heart of the festival while bookended by the sweet smells of baked goods and the bustling cocktail bar providing specialty drinks to festival patrons. Coffee Music Project alum and 2019 contestants took the stage to showcase their artistry, and provide a home-y environment for those sitting down to enjoy the sweet melodies kissing their ears.
The 2019 Los Angeles Coffee Music Project songwriting competition returned for its second year, and the musical brilliance was just as strong as its first round of artists. As before, a series of live events were planned in order to showcase the talents of this year’s competing artists, in which all proceeds would be donated to CMP and LACF charity of choice, Project Waterfall.
Beloved Sunset Strip music venue The Viper Room was the home for this year’s finals with guest performances from 2018 winner Madeleine Mayi and the 2019 New York Coffee Music Project winners, Auguste and Alden.
Nine creative performers took the stage to fight for the title of Coffee Music Project winner, which included KiSMiT, Johnny Murrell, JC Villafan, Andi Kay, Katie Ferrara, and Sonia Rao. Folktronica singer-songwriter Michael K. came in third place with Nashville to L.A. songbird Lizzy Lebleu as the runner-up to the show’s winner, alt-pop L.A. native Dyllan.
“Music is an art form that’s changing constantly, especially now that our attention spans are shorter and we have access to a crazy amount of music. Modern ears are hungry for something original. It’s an exciting time to be making music because I can write folk-y singer-songwriter lyrics and still have pop/electronic production. For me personally, the most essential thing is that I remain authentic in my songwriting and communicate the gritty parts of my human experience, because that’s what really translates. “– Los Angeles Coffee Music Project 2019 Winner Dyllan
The Coffee Art Project once again was a crowd-pleaser for the festival with their impressive and eclectic gallery of coffee-themed artwork on display and their Movie Room featuring competing films. Highlights from the gallery included a coffee painted map of the world, quirky illustrations, and the literal king and queen of coffee. The Movie Room featured a variety of films that depict the many facets of the coffee world, which included a three-part documentary of the coffee leaf from Wize Monkey, short films from Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and an exclusive look at Feeding Tomorrow, an upcoming film from Califia Farms that explores our food choices.
Scene Stealing Vendors
The Los Angeles Coffee Festival was consistent in bringing together a fun and unique mix of vendors to exhibit throughout the festival space. Below are a few of the booths that my interest as an attendee:
CBD has become a growing trend in the food and beverage industry and it’s not going to be going away anytime soon. EXO CBD takes it to the next level by not only providing medical research, agriculture consulting, product development and manufacturing, but by offering an attractive white labeling program for those looking to take the plunge into CBD infused products. At LACF, they were providing extensive information on the benefits of CBD and the many forms that it can come in, in which the products showcased were specially designed coffee beans and kombucha tea.
For seasoned travelers who happen to be coffee lovers, sometimes bringing along coffee creamer, or finding it for that matter, is a task that is easily given up on. But have no fear, because Moo Pods is here to solve all of your woes in the form of the world’s first creamer in a tablet, in which LACF attendees were lucky enough to get to try out this revolutionary addition to the coffee industry before they officially go on sale in 2020. The company’s goal is to aid in reducing greenhouse gas from the dairy industry’s conventional methods, which is something to commend in our current environmental state. If that wasn’t enough to entice you, other pros include a low calorie count (ten calories per tab), no artificial colors or flavors, and a whopping eighteen month shelf life.
While Patrick Dempsey was not the one that invented the ‘coffee collar’ like he did in the rom-com Made Of Honor, coffee sleeves are a staple for take away coffee. BriteVision is the leading custom hot beverage sleeve provider, and not only are they productively quick with getting your design printed and shipped within four weeks time, but their sleeves are also 100% recyclable and compostable. With the ‘is this eco-friendly?’ voice constantly in our heads now, it’s great to see a company work hard to provide coffee lovers (or any hot beverage drinker) everywhere a product that we all know and love that works towards environmental consciousness.
Showin’ Love to the Locals
Apart from the many well-named and international brands being showcased, the Los Angeles Coffee Festival also made sure to incorporate local/California-based businesses for attendees to discover. Below are a few companies that I chose to spotlight after getting the chance to visit their booths at this year’s festival:
There’s a whole new definition of ‘coffee date’ when it comes to Joolies’ date-based sweetened syrup alternative. Hailing from the home of California’s biggest music festival, Coachella Valley, the family-owned company has been growing organic medjool dates for two decades (!), and strives to provide their customers with healthy, organic snacks and sugar alternatives. Their medjool date syrup is derived from 100% pure dates, and includes healthy benefits for fiber, magnesium and potassium in every serving. That’s sweet!
Do you ever wish that your favorite coffeeshop could send you your favorite roast every month? Well you’re in luck, because that’s exactly what the L.A. Coffee Club was created to do! Coffee addicts are able to discover L.A.’s rapidly growing local coffee scene in the form of a subscription program that not only benefits the consumer, but also lends support to the local roasteries and shops. Move over K-Cup and Nespresso, local coffee is coming for your crowns!
Looking to become a well-trained barista? The San Diego Coffee Training Institute is the place to get your class on with courses in roasting, cupping, foundations, and general training to be a certified barista. Also, SDCTI works with Coffee Kids, a non-profit organization that provides training, mentoring, and financial support to empower young coffee farmers into creating a sustainable livelihoods. Five percent of SDCTI’s proceeds raised are donated to their partner in order for their efforts to aid in creating solutions for young growers to implement in their coffee career.
Orange County based Able Coffee Roasters is very much making the world a better place with coffee. Working with small farmers from all over the world, certified organic beans are imported and roasted on a daily basis, which in turn creating paying jobs for individuals with Autism and other disabilities. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for individuals with special needs is over eighty percent, with employment opportunities limited after age twenty-two. Able Coffee Roasters is determined to not only create quality products, but to break the mold and end prejudice against disabled individuals, one cup of coffee at a time.
The homeless issue across the country, especially in Los Angeles, is unfortunately something that has not found sufficient enough solutions that could end it for good. But with non-profit organizations like Lunch On Me, there is hope that something productive is happening to end homelessness. LOM works to provide healthy organic meals six days a week, every week to the homeless community of Skid Row while also providing programs such as workout classes, healing groups, and community gatherings in hopes of creating a better environment while they work on ending homelessness.
Oats: Not Just For Eating
As someone who needs to keep an eye on their daily dairy intake, searching for milk alternatives has been a routine that I’ve gotten used to at every coffeeshop that I go to. But when you also have allergies to half of the milk alternatives, you get stuck with soy milk most of the time. But with the recent boom in popularity for oat milk, I was plenty pleased when I got to see oat milk as a staple of this year’s festival. Booths from companies like Califia Farms and Oat-ly! were passing out wonderful samples like lattes with steamed milk and even delicious ice cream, and were featured at a lot of the other booths, The Lab and Tasting Room, and during Latte Art Live.
Would You Like Some Coffee With Your Cocktail?
Coffee, music, art, shopping, what more could you need for a perfect day at the coffee festival? Alcohol of course! Mr. Black‘s Cold Brew Coffee Liquor was back and joined by a slew of other great brands for specialty cocktails available for at-age attendees. Black Cow Vodka is a revolutionary smooth vodka made only from the milk of grass fed cows while Oban Whiskey is infused with oak, honeyed spice, and sea salt air. Rounding out the festival’s alcohol options is Liqor43, a family-owned company with a harmonious combination of Mediterranean citruses, spices and vanilla along with many top-secret ingredients that have made it an award-winning spirit. The coffee-themed cocktail options are endless!
We did it! We survived another caffeinated year at the Los Angeles Coffee Festival! Once again, our experience was undoubtedly an enjoyable one that introduced us to growing aspects of the coffee industry, companies with a cause, and new musics that we hope to showcase here on the blog in the near future. We already can’t wait for round three!