Cafe and coffee enthusiasts have begun adapting to the rapidly changing new normal. What once could be a weekly cafe hopping exercise has become an online quest to find roasters, cafes, and coffee equipment suppliers in the time of quarantine. Online home brewing groups have become a go-to gathering place for coffee drinkers, breaking the traditional barriers of jampacked commercial cafés and intimate, sometimes intimidating specialty cafés. Sharing brewing recipes, beans, and other coffee stories have helped to open new coffee conversations, igniting interest across a broad spectrum of different coffee drinkers.
This growing interest opens a new opportunity for industry professionals to share more coffee knowledge with the power of online platforms. Zoom has never been as hot as it is now, and companies like Facebook and Google have begun offering their own platforms for online conferencing. To date, two coffee festivals have already been held online, providing a similar set of coffee workshops and lectures to those interested.
The 29th of March was when the first online coffee festival was held. Dubbed the Virtual Coffee Festival, around 2,000 people live-streamed the festival as it happened through various online platforms like Facebook, YouTube, and Zoom. Viewers were treated to talks and workshops by industry professionals, with each video lasting anywhere from 20-25 minutes. A similar event was held just 2 months later, called the No Filter Coffee Festival. Workshops were held via Instagram, and attendees simply needed to check the schedule of the workshop they were interested to attend and make sure they were online to catch it.
What will other online coffee festivals be like in the future? Apart from workshops and lectures, will organizers set out to conduct more activities? Coffee tastings and cuppings are also making a transition to online, with organizers sending out coffees in advance to interested participants, with corresponding instructions to boot. Brands can do online launches for products that used to be launched at coffee festivals, such as new brewers or other coffee paraphernalia that can be sold right before the launches to interested testers and the ever-curious coffee brewing enthusiast. Another great thing of conducting these festivals online is the potential to save these events for future viewing, allowing interested attendees who might have jam-packed schedules to purchase access to the festival in advance and simply watch on-demand at a later time.
The opportunities for online coffee festivals are only limited by the scope of an organizer’s imagination. Although the first two online coffee festivals focused primarily on workshops, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see more of these festivals try out new things, like the aforementioned virtual cupping sessions, or even providing online forums for participants to meet and swap stories. In this ever changing new normal, as more coffee enthusiasts get together virtually and find more platforms to discuss and engage, the platform of an online coffee festival could look to be another ingenuity born out of necessity, and could even providing the forum for the single largest gathering of coffee enthusiasts at a coffee festival, whether virtual or otherwise.