Whew! I’m so happy to be able to announce this. In case you missed my last post, my wife and business partner Patricia, who’s been by my side for every CoffeeCon since the first in 2011, was seriously injured one week before the Chicago event at the location itself. She was wheelchair bound for nearly 90 days. She’s much better, thanks – better enough that we are able to launch our first 2016 event, this time in LA. So much to say. I have a lot of thoughts bubbling up right now as I enter the launch of another CoffeeCon! We are going to hold CoffeeCon at Magic Box LA at The Reef. I visited there before our first LA event. I was frankly not ready to be there. It was too big, and at the time, its space division and look didn’t seem like our cup of – er coffee. We like alternate spaces that are either art galleries or post-industrial brick and steel vintage buildings. Well, a lot has happened. The Magic Box new addition is my kind of clean, modern, midsize glass-enclosed space and separate glass classrooms flowing out from that space, giving the venue a clean open Facebook-office-style. The addition of a paneled classic space they’re calling The Living Room on another level will allow comfortable and elegant presentations. Of course, Magic Box offers on-site parking and other modern amenities to give all CoffeeCon goers a comfortable and luxurious experience. During Pat’s convalescence, we had a lot of reflection time to make some new plans. Here’s what’s new:
- Pricing options – One thing I hate is anyone tweeting that they’d like to attend, but can’t afford it. Mass coffee sampling costs more and is more complex than beer or wine due to everything from onsite energy consumption, to freshness, to brewing expertise and people number and skill to accomplish it. We re-did our pricing so it’s now possible for someone who just wants to come taste the world’s best coffees to get a 3-hour pass (Gilligan’s Island’s first charter length) for $23 either morning or afternoon sessions – less than half the cost of a beer festival ticket I recently purchased. If you prefer an all-day tasting experience with access to all the great speakers and classes, the ticket price is only $30. Those who want all-day access can tap into “the power of friends” and get the lowest possible rate by choosing our “4 tickets for the price of 3” deal. $90 shared cost gives your group full-day access for only $22.50 a ticket. Short of a government grant from Governor Brown, I can’t bring it down any more.
- Tasting classes – We have always offered tasting classes that rival anything the
trade offers at their events for professional tasters. Our surprise tasting expert will be announced shortly and you’re going be excited once they are announced. You can’t go wrong and it’s now also a lower cost (also to be announced shortly) which includes a donation to one of my favorite causes (also among forthcoming announcements).
- More roasters – It was gratifying to contact the first two roasters, both who’d turned us down last year, and hear them say “yes, we’ll be there” upon hearing this year’s pitch. Fully half my dream for CoffeeCon is the world’s largest coffee tasting, side by side. My goal is to have every great roaster. So far, so good.
- More innovative, new products – How about all these little Kickstarter coffee makers, at least the ones that have a working sample? Don’t you hate that you still can’t taste the results of these machines online? Hehe. Well we are doing something about it. I’m reaching out to every inventor I can find and giving them a space to come and show off their product. I’m telling you about it so you’ll show up and tell your friends.
- Ongoing hands-on classes. My most important mission at CoffeeCon, and what’s unique about us, is the slew of on-site brewing classes. And, whenever possible, they’re hands-on tutored classes. I woke up one day and realized I made fabulous French Press brew because Peet’s Jim Reynolds taught me to use it, as Oren’s Daily Roast’s Oren Bloostein would guide my hand to show me how he poured 197°F water in a circular motion over a Chemex. Thanks to our classes, we routinely get emails following each CoffeeCon from folks who took our classes and reported better coffee henceforth. Being handed a sack of great coffee carries an obligation to know how to brew it. It’s not hard, but nor is it intuitive. We teach it. I have schmoozed, bullied, begged folks like Wilbur Curtis, Bonavita, Hario, Chemex (more to be announced soon) and others to give us enough gear to start a decent online retailer, only to be opened and used instead to allow you for this one glorious day to “own everything” and play all day with all of it. Please come and use it, but you should know your benefactors. Different roasters will allow you to play with their coffee too so you have the best of both in the Coffee-Con equation.
- Presenters – For the first CoffeeCon event, I literally called up my own closest friends in the business and insisted they come to my party. Most simply got on a plane and showed up and I will always remember them fondly for it. We’ve become known so it’s becoming a hot thing to say you’re a presenter at CoffeeCon. I’m taking full advantage of this and in the process of securing the very best presenter for each category. Short of buying a professional Specialty Coffee Association of America membership and taking their top tier package for their annual conference, you can’t find a better array of presenters about coffee anywhere in the world. I swear. I might even boast we’re sometimes better simply because I’m still an individual with little outside politicking to sway me. Your only to-do so far is to “Get yer ticket”.
- Prize drawings – You’re automatically entered when you enter the venue.
- Food samples on the event floor and more…. Access to some of LA’s best food trucks, right outside, so you can spend the day and balance your coffee intake with savory satisfaction.
I’m sure you can tell I’m entering the manic phase of all this. The last thing I’ll share is my own private worst fear. After each CoffeeCon there’s a tweet that goes onto our feed that says something like this: “Argh!!! My life is ended. I just found out that CoffeeCon was in the very city where I live. And, guess what? Yours truly didn’t know about it until I saw the happy faces and Instagram photos of the event. Woe to this cruel world”. Now, even though I assume this is lighthearted remorse, but it breaks my heart. I know it is something no coffee enthusiast wants to miss. Tell your friends. Share our posts, like this one. I’m a guy that never once threw a bash in my dorm room at college. Tell your friends and help me get the word out.