Coffee, community, and conversation

By Alison Caldwell

The first ever Hamilton Coffee Fair (#HCF2K17) marked the start of an incredible conversation around specialty coffee. The free event brought local coffee shops and roasters under the roof of the Spice Factory to demonstrate unique brewing methods, sample specialty coffee and educate guests on their coffee knowledge. 

On March 5th, The Spice Factory, was crowded with coffee connoisseurs and interested consumers looking for the perfect cup of joe. The turnout was unbelievable! A line began almost instantly as over 1,000 coffee loving Hamiltonians eagerly braved the cold to enjoy specialty coffee.

Inside, tightly packed tables lined the perimeter of the room, stacked high with retail beans, at-home coffee brewers and samples of each vendor’s chosen offerings. Most tables hosted more than one coffee shop, working shoulder-to-shoulder to provide samples of specialty blends and educational knowledge. The joint efforts of baristas from competing coffee shops conveyed a strong sense of community and left coffee entrepreneurs with an encouraging feeling.

Brewing demonstrations adorned the centre of the room, showcasing seemingly bizarre brewing methods, with names such as the Siphon Vacuum Brewer and the Chemex Coffeemaker. This exhibition gave guests a glimpse at unique home-brewing methods while bringing a sense of approachability to the somewhat elusive world of specialty coffee. The brewing demonstrations allowed baristas to showcase their expertise and produce quality cups of coffee with care and finesse.

Arguably, the most important aspect of the Hamilton Coffee Fair was the cultivation of conversation that occurred at each table. The organizers of the event did an incredible job of creating flow around the brewing demonstrations. This allowed vendors the opportunity to directly speak to each guest that meandered their way through the crowd. With the growing demand for quick coffee service, sparking meaningful conversation about specialty coffee is important to changing the way people experience and choose to buy coffee.

As the operating partner of Cafe Augusta, the event provided the perfect platform to discuss the direct trade relationships and dedication to ethically-sourced beans that Cafe Augusta is dedicated to. I was amazed by the amount of support and encouragement fellow coffee entrepreneurs expressed. Feeling that sense of support was incredibly encouraging and brought unity to the somewhat chaotic turnout.

The Hamilton Coffee Fair allowed local coffee professionals to accurately curate specialty coffee in an approachable manner. Local coffee shops worked together to drive home the importance of supporting ethically-sourced coffee as caffeinated guests soaked up all the coffee education they possibly could. I am thrilled to have been a part of this event and I am eager to see the response from our community.

It is important to continue to promote meaningful conversation about specialty coffee, choose local cafes over large corporate stores and show support for the Hamilton coffee community – because why not love local?