Every thriving coffee community needs events. They allow people to meet, discuss, and collaborate. They provide a platform for innovation. They help professionals to improve their skill sets, either through learning new things or competing. They spread passion and excitement.
Whether it’s a weekly coffee meet or multi-stage barista competition, here’s why you need to organise an event – and how to do it.
(Oh, and don’t forget to check out our Events Calendar for other events near you!)
Why You Should Organise Coffee Events
If you love coffee, then you’ll benefit from attending events. That’s true whether you’re a professional or a hobbyist. In addition to a lot of fun (and a certain degree of stress), they’ll bring you networking opportunities and a supportive coffee community. They’ll help you to understand coffee in new ways, and to work on improving your skills with people who are also learning.
Maybe you’re lucky enough to live in an area with plenty of events. However, I can guarantee that, if you think about it for a bit, you’ll come up with a different event that you’d love to attend. Perhaps there are barista competitions in your local town, but they’re all a bit too serious: you want the competitors to have to tell a new coffee joke with every pour. Or perhaps they’re not serious enough for you.
Whatever you want to see, you can make happen. The great thing about organising your own event is that it becomes exactly the kind of event you want to attend.
What’s more, if you’re a café or roastery owner, then you should definitely be organising events. They’re opportunities to consolidate your brand, provide different services for your regulars, and even gain new customers.
So let’s take a look at how to do it…
Find Your C-Team
Forget the A-team: you need a C-Team. And by that, I mean Coffee Team. The more you try to control every tiny little detail of an event, the harder it will be to do. Instead, align yourself with like-minded people that share your goals so you can share the responsibilities.
Of course, finding these people isn’t always easy… but the more you hang out coffee shops, talk to baristas, and attend events, the easier it will get!
Work together as a team. Credit: Krust Cafe, George, South Africa
How to Pick Your Venue
If you’re a business owner, you’ll probably want to use your own place. However, if it’s too small, the insurance doesn’t cover events, or you’re not a business owner, you’ll have to find somewhere to host the event.
Where you pick will, to a certain degree, depend on the type of event it is. Remember to consider practical points – space, local transport, enough electrical sockets – and not just whether you’re friends with the owner.
Don’t forget to consider branding as well. This will be a great marketing opportunity for the venue owner, and an easy opportunity for you to get more attendees! Whether it’s a coffee shop, roastery, or something else, find out what kinds of events their customers would like to attend. Facebook polls, face-to-face conversations, or simple surveys with each coffee order are a great way for the business owner to do this.
Most importantly, when picking a venue make sure you stay professional. There’s a chance that every business you consider will be in competition with each other. Don’t mislead anybody, or try to play businesses against each other to get better deals, because the last thing you want is he-said-she-said situation.
There are many things to consider when picking the perfect venue. Credit: Vintage Coffee
What Kind of Event Should You Host?
There is a huge range of events that you can host, and I couldn’t possibly list them all. But to get you started, here are five suggestions that go from coffee beginner to coffee pro.
1. A Coffee Appreciation Evening
This is a great way to interest members of the public and answer questions about coffee. I start these off with some facts about what coffee is, how it’s changed over time, and how important it is to different cultures all over the world. Then I provide a tasting of everyday coffee drinks, like americanos, cappuccinos, and so on. These evenings should be kept short and informative, since they’re designed for an “entry-level” consumer.
Events can help consumers to develop a new appreciation for coffee. Credit: Huckleberry Roasters
2. A Brewing Methods Evening
This is a good event for consumers who know they like coffee and may have seen some pour overs or even used one or two, but want to perfect their brewing methods. It’s a fun and interactive way to learn more about coffee, and can feature the Kalita Wave, V60, AeroPress, Chemex, syphon, and even a couple of the more unusual brewing methods.
Try to hold this event somewhere that has all this equipment for sale. This helps both the venue and those attendees who decide they like the taste profile of a particular method. Additionally, I recommend using the same coffee for each brewing method. If you choose to source from a variety of coffee roasters, however, it might make event sponsorship easier.
Introduce consumers to a variety of brewing methods. Credit: Methodical Coffee
3. Palate Development/Coffee Tasting
This is great for people who aren’t quite ready for a coffee cupping, but are starting to become curious about balance, body, aroma, and flavour. Even long-time coffee lovers can benefit a lot from these events! Try offering fruits, nuts, chocolate, and other foods that will help attendees understand common coffee notes, and then serve up three or four coffees with similar profiles.
Everything you need for coffee tasting and palate development. Credit: Krust Cafe, George, South Africa
4. Coffee Cuppings/Cup Tasters
Cupping is a good step up from a palate development evening. It’s also great to hear everyone’s different opinions on the coffees. You can learn a lot from other people’s impressions!
When I organise this event, I like to follow up cupping with a cup tasters competition. It adds excitement and is a great opportunity to see people apply what they’ve learned. But if you’re doing this, make sure you’ve got an experienced and knowledgeable team of people to help you.
Cupping events are a great way to get people excited about coffee. Credit: Jason Risner Photography
5. Barista Jams/Latte Art Throwdowns
These events can be done at any café, and even people who don’t want to compete will have fun watching. So gather some passionate baristas and invite them to show off their best art. Try inviting a local “celebrity” to judge; this will add a bit of buzz. And to make it even more exciting, ask coffee businesses to sponsor prizes, such as tampers, jugs, or even some bags of coffee.
Everyone likes watching a latte art throwdown. Credit: Abner Roldán
There’s no shortage of events you can host, depending on what you want to get out of this experience. And any event you choose will help people to make new connections, inspire new coffee lovers, and encourage the development of the local specialty scene. So what are you waiting for? Start organising, and let the fun begin!
Written by Shaun Aupiais.
Perfect Daily Grind
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