Something hot is brewing in Manhattan.
The New York Coffee Festival returns for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, kicking off Friday at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea.
At the three-day event that runs through Sunday, caffeine addicts will get a chance to sample unlimited coffee, hear live music performances, learn about latte art and sit in on educational lab sessions about new developments in the industry. Single daily ticket prices range from $38 to $80 online and in person.
London-based entrepreneur Jeffrey Young, who launched the first festival back in 2012, says the Big Apple is the perfect location for the java jamboree.
“There is no other city in the world that sort of runs on caffeine the way that New York City runs on caffeine,” he told the Daily News. “It’s not called the city that never sleeps for any other reason that there’s this energy of the people here.
“And coffee is one of those products that everyone enjoys, and it perks them up and, and keeps them going in the workaholic culture where they work hard and play hard,” Young continued. “Our festival is designed to encapsulate all of the best roasters from around the city, with some of the baristas as well.”
Before studying finance and economics for his M.B.A. at the University of Houston, Young had an early career as a chef in top restaurants in Paris. Through his culinary work, he discovered the care and dedication needed to make coffee. He ditched his job in management consultancy 23 years ago to “pursue a career analyzing coffee and coffee trends.”
In 2012, the sought after coffee market specialist began publishing annual coffee guides for cities such as London and New York. His database has served as a rich resource for vendors and coffeemakers who will be featured at the festival.
“The last edition was 2020 and it was due to be updated, but we haven’t updated since 2020 so a lot has changed,” Young explained.
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The 50-something Australian stays on the pulse of what’s happening with coffee by hitting various corners of the city, engaging with baristas and customers.
“I’ve personally seen how the conversation has evolved, it’s become much more sophisticated,” he shared. “It’s become much more widespread. Young consumers are really tapping into the technology, they order ahead, they have the iced coffees, there’s a lot of new trends that weren’t around back then in 2012, that is now part of the culture.”
The coffee expert added: “It’s more coffee, better coffee and more competition, but at the same time, more people are enjoying specialty coffee. Cold brew wasn’t even a thing five, seven years ago, it’s now firmly entrenched.”
Producing The New York Coffee Festival will also serve a special purpose for Young. All of the proceeds from the festival are being donated to Project Waterfall to deliver life-changing water projects in coffee-growing regions in a partnership with the New York City nonprofit, Charity: Water.
According to the organization, more than 700 million people worldwide live without clean water.
“We’re really lucky to have our daily cup of joe, and many people don’t realize that 96, 98% of what we’re drinking when we drink a cup of coffee is actually water,” he said. “Behind that espresso machine, or even sometimes with the filtered coffee, is usually filtered water.
“It’s a real privilege to have that, and why can’t we use this industry to be able to give back to people in coffee growing areas to have that clean water that they deserve just as much as we do?”