Coffee Fest Report or: How We Conquered Day 1

Coffee Fest Day 1

And we’re off! Day one of Coffee Fest Chicago was all sorts of crazy. A dozen coffees and a pile of pizza later, we're feeling a second wind and we're ready to take on the weekend. First, a look back at Friday’s festivities.

Day 1

Custom Alex Duetto II espresso machine
Coffee Fest brew bar
Lou Malnati’s Chicago-style pizza

As always, Coffee Fest’s latte art comp drew top-notch competitors. Who should you be watching? Cabell Tice (New York’s 2013 champion), Kenny Smith (winner of the first SCAA latte art exhibition), and the charmingly ominous Louisville crowd are on our list. To no one’s surprise, both Cabell and Kenny will move on to day two, followed by Houston Miller and ex-Louisvillian John Letoto. Nice work, fellas.

Fun fact: 10% of this year’s competitors are from Kentucky! You might say we’re a little proud.

Once noon hit, we got busy on the show floor. The Prima Booth (304, y’all) came to life with gizmos galore: Prima Tamps, Prima Stands, Kalita Waves, Baratza’s new Forte, and our custom Alex Duetto II. We hydrated the masses with Argo Sons’ coffee, including a sugary Yirg and their beautifully balanced Argonaut espresso blend.

Slipping out for a bit, we went to sneak a peek of what’s likely to be the hottest new product on the floor all weekend: the single-group Slayer. That’s right, one of the most advanced espresso machines in the world, now bite-size. The single-group machine remains the same beloved brew method, but its guts have been totally redesigned and reorganized to allow a smaller footprint. Production begins later this year – better start pinching those pennies!

After tucking the booth in for the night, it was time to rest up and refuel. We continued our weekend-long tasting tour of deep-dish pizza at Lou Malnati’s. (General consensus: Lou’s beats Gino’s.) Then the night got going.

With a pit stop at The Wormhole, we headed out to Ipsento Coffee House for the second throwdown of the day. A good crowd gathered for beer (a milk stout brewed with Ipsento’s coffee), espresso on ice cream, and lowstakes competition. Again Louisville swept in and knocked it out of the park (#sorrynotsorry), sending three baristas to the semi-final round and providing the champ: Sunergos’ Becky Hayko.

With one wild day behind us, we’re ready for a stellar weekend. Come at us, Coffee Fest.

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