Coffee Festival returns to The Reef LA

In its second year, the festival will feature contests, exhibits and countless cups of joe. (Photo courtesy of Kristen Horner / Big Picture Media)

After its successful debut in the Los Angeles coffee scene last year, the Los Angeles Coffee Festival will take over the Magic Box at the Reef L.A. again this weekend for two days of coffee tastings, exhibitions and competitions. Ten percent of profits from this festival will be donated to Project Waterfall — in partnership with charity: water, with the goal of bringing clean water to areas in need. 


This year’s festival will see some new exhibitors and plenty of familiar faces across the coffee and beverage industry.

Plenty of L.A. local cafes will be serving up tastings of their coffees and teas. Bluestone Lane is a New York-based, Australian-inspired cafe that expanded to the West Coast with locations in Venice, La Brea, Studio City and more. Coffee Manufactory, a usual at Smorgasburg L.A., and Intelligentsia, which has locations in Venice and Silver Lake, will also be featured at the festival. 

Coffee isn’t the only offering — from coffee-flavored chocolates to housewares, the festival has a vast diversity of exhibitors. Baileys Irish Cream and the Los Angeles Times are just two of the many unexpected booths at the festival.

Oatly, the extremely popular oatmilk company and Califia Farms will serve up some milk alternatives for those who can’t consume dairy. Several tea vendors will also be there, including Rishi Tea & Botanicals, Spirit Tea and Shane’s Tea.


It’s the festival’s second run but the first time that it will host the Coffee Masters competition. Sixteen baristas will be judged on their skills in cupping (tasting and understanding coffee profiles and flavors), brewing, latte art, taking orders (perfecting 10 different kinds of espresso-based drinks), creating their own signature drink, creating an espresso blend of coffees and finally, being able to identify the origins of certain beans. These are more skills than a wine sommelier needs to know!

This year’s judges include Anne Lunell from Koppi Coffee, David Donde from Truth Coffee, Michelle Johnson from Coffee Manufactory, worldwide coffee consultant Ben Kaminsky from The Chocolate Barista and Bronwen Serna, winner of the 2004 U.S. Barista Competition.

The Festival will also showcase Latte Art Live, a slightly more casual setting where baristas will show off their capabilities for creating beautiful cream designs atop cups and cups of espresso.


Like last year, coffee-inspired visual art and movies are submitted to the Coffee Art Project will be featured at the festival, and winners will be announced at the end. 

The Coffee Music Project showcases a variety of musicians, several of which are Los Angeles locals. Friday has the largest lineup, with Daisy Chute, Madeleine Mayi, Amanda McCarthy and Auguste & Alden, all prior performers at Coffee Festivals in L.A., New York and London. The other Friday headliners are Erin Bowman, Levenbirds, MJ Ultra and Jnay. 

On Saturday, Karolina Rose, Nico Franc and Lisa Ritchie will take the stage, and each are likely to share songs that will be on their upcoming albums. Sunday’s headliner is a mother-daughter duo of Lua, a multidisciplinary artist and her daughter Sharon. Additionally, Michael K, a Thornton School of Music senior majoring in music industry, will be performing Sunday.

This year, the Movie Room will feature shorts that had been submitted to The Coffee Art Project, an international art competition that is themes around coffee and coffee culture. 

Two documentaries will be screened — one on the coffee leaf by Wize Monkey and one about how people choose what they eat, by Califia Farms. Stumptown Roasters created two shorts that will be shown as well.

The Coffee Art Project takes artworks across different mediums, and this year’s showing should be impressive. Some extremely creative artworks last year were constructed entirely of differently colored coffee beans or paper stained with coffee. But all media — paintings, drawings, photography, film, design, sculpture and conceptual art — are accepted so long as they relate to the idea of coffee or the “coffee shop experience.”

Tips for first-timers

Pace yourself. Drinking too much coffee in a single day can cause dizziness and many other symptoms. Be sure to drink plenty of water and watch how much caffeine you consume.

Bring a reusable bag. Vendors have a lot to give out, and you’ll walk away with plenty of flyers, samples and products. 

Schedule your day. Be sure not to miss exciting showcases or competitions by setting a schedule for yourself ahead of time. There’s so much to do, and it’s easy to get caught up in walking around The Reef and miss an event.

This year’s Coffee Festival is three days of some of the biggest names in coffee. For anyone interested in owning a cafe, becoming a barista or who just loves to drink coffee, this is the spot to be this weekend.