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The specialty coffee industry in the eastern United States is thriving, if attendance at Coffee Fest Washington D.C. is any indication. Held this last weekend (March 19-21, 2004) at the new Washington, D.C. Convention Center, over 1,700 coffee shop retailers, restaurateurs, entrepreneurs and other specialty coffee professionals sampled the latest in specialty coffee, tea and related products.
Attendance was up 72 percent over 2003’s Atlantic City show and exhibitor participation was up 29 percent over last year.
“Moving the event from Atlantic City was a tremendous risk, however we now we are glad we did,” said David Heilbrunn, Coffee Fest Show Manager. “It seems as though all of our attendees and exhibitors were extremely pleased with the experience in Washington, DC. This is a clear indication that the specialty coffee and gourmet tea industries in the Eastern U.S. not only want, but will support a show annually,” he continued. “One can only wonder what our attendance would have been had eight inches of snow not blanketed the entire Northeast on Friday, the first day of the show.”
Awards were given the best new products and Bridgetown Coffee took home the first place prize with their innovative “Compass Point Spinners.” Second place went to Big Train, for their “Low Carb Chai and Mocha,” and Uncle Ralph’s Cookie Company (a first time exhibitor at Coffee Fest) received the third place prize for their new “Carb Watch Cookies.”
The first Millrock Latte Art Competition on the east coast was a success and featured many of the top baristi from throughout the Eastern U.S. When the qualifying rounds had completed Saturday the stage was set for the Millrock Free Pour Latte Art Championships on Sunday.
The championship was ultimately won by Chris DeFerio from Gimme Coffee of Ithaca, NY. While others came close, Chris displayed a clear advantage over all other competitors in both the preliminary rounds and then again in the finals. Second place was a tie with the judges “definition” score acting as the tie breaker. Winners were: 1st place Chris DeFerio, Gimme Coffee $1,000; 2nd Place, Dan Peterson, Hyperion Espresso $500; 3rd Place, Andy Cronin, Batdorf & Bronson $250.
After four Coffee Fest free pour Latte Art competitions, Chris represents the first winner not from Caffe Artigiano in Vancouver, BC.
Coffee Fest is a trade show catering to the specialty coffee and gourmet tea industries. Coffee Fest’s next show is slated June 12-14, 2004 at the Sands Expo Center/Venetian Hotel and will be co-located with the Great American Dessert Expo.