Coffee and Tea Festival at the Brooklyn Expo Center | Event review
For the tenth year of the Coffee & Tea Festival NYC, more than 60 vendors took over the Brooklyn Expo Center to showcase countless varieties of caffeinated beverages to the masses. The sold-out event drew hundreds of people into a line that had snaked around the perimeter of the 60,000 square-foot building by ten o’clock in the morning. The big appeal of the Festival is the tasting aspect: row upon row of coffee and tea proprietors offer samples of their wares, inspiring an atmosphere that’s both convivial and leisurely, in spite of the dense crowds.
Coffee is the elixir of choice for most New Yorkers, and several companies in attendance were local. Wandering Bear Coffee operates out of the Queens section of NYC and is packaged in a cardboard box that dispenses coffee on tap. Best served cold, it provides more caffeine with less bitterness and acidity due to its 18-hour cold brew process. Their medium-bodied Arabica bean blend hit the tongue smooth, not sharp, with no dry aftertaste. The flavour fully stands up on its own – no milk or sweetener necessary – which automatically makes it a lower calorie option.
Another notable java is the cleverly marketed Jailhouse Coffee. Seven out of their eight varieties of grounds and whole beans are organic, and all are sold in 12oz bags that feature names like Big House, Great Escape and Good Behavior to describe their blends. Big House is a robust Columbian bean medium roast that’s perfect for the daily coffee drinker who requires a hardy eye-opener with just the right amount of kick.
By popular demand, this year’s Festival featured more coffee vendors than in the past, but tea brands were still the clear majority. The Waterfall Tea Company, a high-end brand from California, promotes itself as “Your Personal Tea Sommelier” and boasts 5 American Tea Championship first-place winners among its selection. Their Organic Bianca Chamomile, a whole leaf Egyptian tea contained in delicate biodegradable tea bags for easy brewing, is pleasantly light with a slightly citrusy finish. By contrast, My Zen Tea specialises in being purveyors of authentic “ancient” pu-erh teas, sold in traditional cakes that actually increase in monetary value and quality of flavor with age (a nine-year aged pu-erh cake fetches over $300). Their Snow Chrysanthemum herbal blend is an exquisite tea with an elegant aroma and taste that culminates in a just whisper of sweetness.
A pre-festival VIP hour provided those who purchased an upgraded ticket with a sponsor goodie bag and the privilege to roam the Expo floor before doors open to the public. For a city experiencing a relatively warm 50-degree day following a brutal winter season, the Coffee & Tea Festival yielded more than enough allure to entice even the most sun-starved New Yorker to stay indoors for an afternoon of coffee, tea and community.
Photos: Mariana Howard
The Coffee and Tea Festival NYC is on until 22nd March 2015, for further information about future events visit here.