IN the beginning, Coffee Fest was an exciting function to attend. I remember when it first started in Seattle a number of years ago...(Dream Music) Just about every roaster, consultant, equipment manufacturer, accessory vendor, publication person, you name it and they were there. Oh yeah and perspective customers. There were isles and isles of demostrations, ideas, samples, and all sorts of cool stuff. But the biggest thing I noticed was no sales! I recall during the first Coffee Fest that companies like Starbucks, (then) SBC, Caffe D'Arte, and a few of the other roasters where there with huge booths and advertising up the yin yang. Sort of reminded me of Vegas; tons of excitement. Then the following year, the big boys fell off, and the Fest became more of a show promoting the accessory people like chocolates, jewelery vendors, hot cup people, etc. They became more of the show and the roasters became less of a draw. Nowadays you might see the startup coffee roasters there so they can be seen by the masses or one of the larger roasters with advertising packages to hand out. Personally, I think they're okay to see if you have an entire day to walk around as a customer, but as a presenter or vendor not much gets accomplished other that spending a lot of up front money in hopes of getting business. As a vendor in the Fest it's sort of like if you have the bucks to play in this game and a couple of days to burn then this is for you. But you also have to view it from the customer's side. It new to most of them, exciting, and can be educational. Not to mention all of the freebies you can get. Well must get to work.
The trade floor was ok but the training sessions were outstanding. I would highly recommend attending the 3 day class on "How to open a specialty coffee shop". $650 for 3 days of training and well worth it. The contacts, information, and materials were of the highest quality. Well worth the money.
I will attend Coffee Fest in Vegas in June. Since I am new (we hope to open in the next few weeks) any advice on what to look for while there or what shops to attend??? We're going to Vegas for our daughter's wedding and the show happens to be the weekend before....we'll get there Saturday night, so we'll attend on Sunday or Monday.
My first CoffeeFest was in DC last month. Nice show, a little smaller than I expected but it was the first year in DC and I expect it to grow as time goes by. The seminars were informative and worth attending.
But if you have the time, come to Atlanta in two weeks for the SCAA show. It's the largest trade show and conference for the coffee industry. Tons of seminars, workshops and an incredibly huge trade show. Not to mention the USBC National Barista Championships. It's a great time and well worth the effort.