Of the five senses (or six depending who you ask), smell is said to be the most potent. It’s no wonder then, that some aromas can make you drool like a Pavlovian dog. A prime example is coffee — its powerful bouquet has seduced more than 150 million Americans, created an $18 billion market in the U.S., and spawned more than 20,000 coffee shops throughout the country, Seattle, Manhattan, and San Francisco having the highest concentration.
With love like that, it makes sense that San Francisco would hold a two-day festival devoted to coffee and its accoutrements. This year’s takes place November 2 and 3, at Fort Mason and has something for everyone — from the casual connoisseur to micro roasters to fair trade enthusiasts.
More than 50 roasters’ brews will be available for sampling, including Allegro, Santa Martha, Proyecto Diaz, Tico, Modern Coffee Collection, Bluestone Lane, and Kickapoo. There will be heaps of eating options, too, from Third Culture Bakery, Toasty, Conscious Creamery, Bowl’d Acai, and House of Bagels, to name a few.
In addition to treats for you taste buds, there will be talks throughout the day called “Coffee Convos,” during which industry pioneers, leaders, and baristas will discuss topics ranging from coffee companies that are making a difference in the world to women-owned and -operated farms to the history of coffee through the years.
In a recent email exchange, Sam Gelin of Craft Hospitality, the event organizer, answered a few of my questions.
How did this festival come into being? How did you know there would be a market for an entire festival? The festival was born out of our love for coffee and for the coffee culture community. The event got started as a way to bring the Bay Area’s top coffee companies together under one roof for the ultimate coffee experience.
Clearly there is an audience for the fest, as you’ve moved to a larger venue this year. Since the S.F. Coffee Festival sold out way in advance every year prior and we were limited on space, we need to turn away additional attendees and additional coffee companies. This year, we wanted to make sure we had space for everyone.
The coffee industry seems to me to be similar to the wine industry development, what with small batches roasted, and the new, purer, etc. ways to grow and produce coffee. Do you think it’s peak coffee time, or that it is just getting started? Consumers have become more and more coffee savvy and have supported the rise of third wave or craft coffee companies. There’s been an increase in the number of diverse offerings as more and more talented people enter the coffee industry and continue to push the boundaries of flavors and service.
Do you have a background in the coffee industry or are you just a coffee devotee? We can make you a mean espresso, but don’t otherwise have a professional background in coffee. We’ve learned so much about coffee from all of the passionate roasters who we’ve been lucky enough to spend time with at the S.F. Coffee Festival. The roasters are always so generous with their knowledge and are passionate about sharing. You’ll learn so much about coffee just at this festival. There’s a story behind every cup and who better to tell it than the roasters themselves.
Why is San Francisco the perfect city in which to host the coffee festival? The level of talent in the Bay Area and the quality of roasts are so spectacular, that there’s nowhere better to aggregate some of the best coffee companies in the country under one roof.
4•1•1 | The fourth annual San Francisco Coffee Festival takes place Saturday-Sunday, November 2-3, at Fort Mason, 2 Marina Blvd., San Francisco. The event is the official kickoff of S.F. Coffee Week. See sfcoffeefestival.com.