Best of the NY Coffee Fest

It would be fair to say that ten years ago, great coffee was not an easy thing to find on the streets of New York City – it was still something reserved for those select few who knew where to find it and were ready to make the extra effort to get it. However, the 2016 New York Coffee Festival was an indication of just how much has changed in the Big Apple. The festival, which featured events like the coffee masters, a specialty food market, and the coffee, music and art project, demonstrated that great coffee in New York City is no longer niche. It has hit the streets and is widely accessible within the hospitality and service industry: hotels, restaurants, doughnut shops, barber shops and breweries are all serving up beautiful and high-quality cups trending with the increasingly discerning palettes of their customers. The specialty coffee scene in New York has been expanding and maturing for the past several years. The combination of local companies like Grumpy, Gimme, and Everyman Espresso and the bigger, more established West Coast companies like Stumptown, Blue Bottle, and Intelligentsia laid a strong foundation for the development of a vibrant market for creating and consuming specialty coffee. The festival ran from 16-18 September in the Kips Bay neighbourhood of Manhattan, and hosted about 10,000 visitors. Unlike other large events on the international coffee calendar, this was less about the machinery and equipment that powers the industry and more focused on the consumer experience. As such, the festival featured specialist coffee roasters, cafés, and producers, with a particular focus on niche products. We took a look at a few of the products on display that stood out as new and innovative. Tom’s Lemon Coffee was awarded the New York Coffee Festival Visitors’ Choice Award for the most innovative product. Owner and founder Mache Barwinski tells Global Coffee Report that he started making Lemon Coffee for himself and his family as a substitute for energy drinks.
He wanted something “natural and healthy that provided nutrients and it had to be sparkling,” Barwinski says. Based in the ski resort town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Barwinski initially set up a lemon coffee stand and started handing out samples to back country skiers. “The response was very positive,’’ he says, and after a few months of testing different recipes he came up with the taste profile that he was looking for all along. “Our drink uses cold brew coffee, which has a large effect on the flavour palette. It was very important to hone in on the right roast and bean for the coffee. The brewing process also played a big role as I had to find the proper temperature and duration so that the coffee flavours complement the lemonade,’’ Barwinski says. Tom’s Lemon Coffee is geared specifically towards the health conscious and outdoor enthusiasts. “We spent the past summer introducing the beverage at local health food shops, gyms and yoga festivals. This winter we are developing new flavours and have started taking orders from our new website,’’ says Barwinski. Brooklyn-based Dona Chai was founded in 2014 with a unique approach to chai preparation that has earned it a strong following both in the US and internationally. They are currently supplying more than 350 coffee shops, specialty shops, and online markets. They are the northeastern US regional chai suppliers for Whole Foods’ coffee bars, and are expanding in the southern US with partners like Revelator Coffee and Not Just Coffee. In Los Angeles they launched at all of the Alfred Coffee locations and they have also entered the international market in London through Harrods. Founder Amy Rothstein explains that chai is “growing in popularity because people are realising that chai does not mean sugar syrup, muddled flavours, or packaged in a box. Instead, it can be a drink that is steeped for hours, made with freshly-ground whole spices, fresh ginger, and good-quality tea.’’ Dona Chai has crafted a product that is the antithesis of the instant powdered drink that is found in many mainstream outlets, using ground spices and fresh ginger, which is then steeped, strained, and bottled.  Its attractive design and ready-to-use packaging has positioned Dona Chai as a popular option for coffee shops and retailers who are looking for a more authentic chai option. The growing popularity of cold brew coffee has stretched across the whole coffee industry: from giants like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts to specialty coffee roasters like Stumptown and Toby’s Estate. Toronto-based Hatch Crafted cold brew is seeking to tap this enormous market potential by pushing dedicated cold-brew production to a new level. Hatch is the largest dedicated cold brew factory in North America. They cover the whole production process in house: from green bean sourcing and roasting to ELS bottling. They source high-quality coffees that are either certified Fair Trade, or Direct Trade. Their cold brew is without additives, sweeteners, or preservatives. Ashley Ebner from Hatch tells GCR that they currently offer three cold brew varieties: Signature Blend (made with organic beans from Ethiopia and Colombia), Chalo’s Farms (made with direct trade single origin beans from Colombia), and Basil Box (a collaborative brew with Basil Box using certified Fair Trade Southeast Asian coffee beans). Milkadamia is an Australian-based macadamia milk company. They source all of their nuts from family-owned Jindill Farms near the eastern coast of Australia. Only raw nuts are used in the production of their product, thereby safeguarding the presence of healthy oils and the inherent nutritional value of the nuts. The company’s two milk varieties were exhibited at the New York Coffee Festival: original and unsweetened. Sunup Green Coffee starts with organic green coffee beans and mixes them with cane sugar to create a bright and sweet coffee beverage that is full of antioxidants. “We are passionate about organic ingredient sourcing for the benefit of the coffee consumer and for the planet,” says founder Nate Pealer. “One of our core beliefs is that all ingredients in nature, if handled properly, will taste great.’’ Because the coffee beans are not roasted before brewing, the beverage exhibits low acidity and virtually no bitterness in a silky smooth cup. It is served cold and packaged in 280 millilitre glass bottles. Sunup is a New York City-based company with a few dozen locations across Manhattan and the outer boroughs. They are looking to create an alternative to the traditional iced teas and coffees on the market. GCR

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