Cool Beans: A weekend of bottomless coffee in Los Angeles

Sydney Loew | Daily Trojan

Cap those travel mugs and cleanse your palettes — the Los Angeles Coffee Fest is coming to town.

From Friday to Sunday, the Magic Box at The Reef in Downtown opens its space to the first L.A. Coffee Festival. This three-day international event will feature “not only exceptional coffee, but [also] incredible local food, cocktails, live music and art.” In addition, 10 percent of ticket sale proceeds will go toward supporting clean water projects abroad.

The issue with most tradeshows — whether they promote cheese, medical equipment or another industry — is that they are geared toward experts and clients who helm big name corporations. But one of the tenets of a great cafe is the personal experience, the chats between baristas and regulars, the comfort of carefully chosen furniture and interior design.

I never thought there would be a way to balance the mildly paradoxical concepts of cafes and expos, but hopefully this festival will prove me wrong. As a bottom-level consumer — not a barista, cafe owner or bean distributor. I’m unduly pleased that I’m in Los Angeles for the first West Coast iteration of the event.

In addition to being consumer-oriented, the festival raises money for a good cause — New York City’s coffee festivals have raised $150,000 over the last three years. Project Waterfall partners with nonprofit organization Charity: Water to fund clean water projects in Rwanda.

A ticket to the festival promises cups of coffee from a variety of vendors — coffee cocktails and teas are in the mix as well. Beyond coffee tastings, the festival site will also host “interactive workshops, demonstrations from world-class baristas, delicious street food, intoxicating coffee cocktails, live music, art and so much more.”

Though Kyle Glanville, co-founder of local joint G&B Coffee, tweeted about a lack of local representation when the festival was first announced, a few L.A.-based vendors will make on appearance this weekend. Local cafe Two Guns Espresso, roastery Common Room Roasters and bean curator Los Angeles Coffee Club will supply as much coffee as patrons can drink, repping the best of the West Coast. Internationally inclined curators like Colombian Coffee Club and innovative roasteries like Four Sigmatic Coffee (known for its mushroom infusions) will also be serving up cups of joe.

Abounding with firsts, the festival will debut The Kitchen, a spot to grab grub amid all the beverage stops. The official site doesn’t offer specifics, but teases attendees with promise of “fiery demos, workshops and talks headed up by culinary legends….[and] a collection of up-and-coming restaurateurs and celebrity chefs who are making a mark on the vibrant Los Angeles cooking scene.” In addition, local eateries like Echo Park-based Pollen, Triniti, Bluestone Lane and Lately comprise the Street Food Market. Let’s hope that The Kitchen will have more than brunch fare — the primary offering of these other restaurants — as the festival runs until late evening.

I’m looking forward to the Coffee Music Project singer-songwriter competition, which features local acts and sends the winner off with a free recording session, a cash prize and a performance in the 2019 London Coffee Festival. It takes many cups of creativity to construct a lineup based on the “coffee” theme, but my column seems to manage, so I have high hopes.

Closing out the long list of firsts is the first United States Coffee Mixologist competition — baristas and mixologists (read, bartenders) pair up to concoct the best coffee cocktail. There will be a movie room showing coffee-inspired films, including Stumptown Roasters’ film “Flower of Flowers,” which discusses the effects of climate change on coffee farming.

Tickets are on sale online, starting at $27 for a standard ticket to one of five three-hour sessions, increasing to $35 the day of. VIP passes, which go for $50, are good for a full day and include merchandise and a free coffee cocktail. Whether you’re a casual cappuccino-sipper or a full-time barista, this festival will offer a variety of experiences and, of course, three days of bottomless cups of coffee.

Breanna de Vera is a sophomore majoring in English and journalism. She is also the chief copy editor of the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Cool Beans,” runs every other Thursday.