Coffee Fest New York Recap

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Mill City is returning to Coffee Fest this year as the Roasting Education Sponsor for the show. That means we'll be trucking to all four locations this year, including the one in our hometown of Minneapolis where the drive on the Big Red Roast Rig will be blissfully short. 

Coffee Fest New York has been the first location of the show's annual series for the past few years. It's a big show that's partnered with a large restaurant show, and attendees get access to both sides of the floor. As always, it was a busy and exciting few days of roasting education, sampling, learning, seeing old friends, and making new connections. Here are a few highlights from our time in the Big Apple.  

Day 1: Standing Room Only

Sunday was the first day of the show and drew the largest crowds of attendees. With a sold-out show floor, more than 120 businesses were exhibiting. The number of total attendees was over 2,900. 

We got an early start on Sunday with a 90-minute Roasting 101 Class. This is an abbreviated session that covers many of the topics we cover in Roasting 101 here in Minneapolis. About 25 students joined us to learn about roaster control panels and thermocouples, green coffee information, and more important foundational skills for roasters. 

In the afternoon, Lauren taught Coffee Roasting for Coffee Shop Owners. As a B2B show, Coffee Fest attracts many cafe owners and restauranteurs. Lauren's class makes the case for why roasting your own coffee in-house can help those folks control costs, improve quality, retain employees, and build brand equity. 

We hosted a Sensory Skill building class every afternoon at 1pm. Bryant and Lauren took huge groups of attendees through the methods and protocols used by coffee professionals to taste and calibrate on coffee's flavors and aromas. We shared techniques on how to build your vocabulary as a cupper, how to train your palate, and we led a group tasting using RoastPATH's Sensory Form.
Everyone who joined us for the sensory session took home small bags of the delicious Colombia Nariño roasts that we tasted together. 

Day 2: Roasting Demonstrations and Space Planning

For the first time since partnering with Coffee Fest, we were able to roast live on the show floor! This was thanks to our brand new MCR-2E Electric Roaster and an integrated catalytic afterburner from ReiCat. Paired together, the system produced virtually zero heat, scent, or smoke for safe and effective roasting inside the Javits Center. 

We used this setup to host daily roasting demonstrations on the 2kg Lab Roaster. Bryant took attendees through a manual and an automated roast using RoastPATH's Roast Replay feature. With data logging projected on the big screen, he showed how to mark landmarks and use the software to replicate the perfect profile with advanced precision.  

Angie Davis, Mill City's VP, presented her very popular space planning class, Roastery Architecture: Designing Spaces that Scale. Updated for 2024, her class includes impressive digital renderings of different-sized roasting facilities and focuses on helping people differentiate between important elements of planning their roasting space. Her advice is not to focus on "What's the biggest roaster I can fit in this space" and instead ask "How much coffee can I process in this space". With a simple change in mindset, planning and designing your roasting facility becomes much more intentional and practical. 

There's probably no one on the planet with more insight and expertise in building an effective, safe, and aesthetic roasting facility. Angie's class is a highlight of the show and truly can't be missed.  

Day 3: Steve's Sessions 

If you've joined us for class in Minneapolis, you know that one of the highlights is Steve's daily talks with students about everything from roast craft to business strategy. On the final day in New York, Steve took the stage twice to teach advanced-level classes on Roasting with Sensory Cues and Roaster Engineering. His explanation of the chemical and physical changes of the coffee seed during the roast, and how those changes impact heat transfer and development, were especially useful to experienced roasters looking for a higher level of understanding on an elusive topic. 

We loved seeing familiar faces on the show floor as well. Long-time education and green coffee partner Cafe Imports was right next to us, hosting daily cuppings with beautiful coffees from Honduras and challenging folks to a friendly cupping competition. Mill City Customers Cafe Kreyol had a booth showcasing coffees roasted on their MCR-30. Our packaging partners and fellow Midwestern company Roastar was there as well, showcasing beautiful coffee packaging they've supplied to roasters across the US.

Come see us at Coffee Fest!

We are so excited to have kicked off the 2024 schedule with our time in New York. If you're interested in joining us on the road, we'll be at Coffee Fest New Orleans this June, Coffee Fest Los Angeles in August, and here for Coffee Fest Minneapolis in October

Check out the Coffee Fest website for information on attending or exhibiting! 


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