Now it´s been a good ten days since the Vienna Coffee Festival warmly welcomed hundreds and hundreds of people (about 12,000 visitors in total during the 3-day long event) in the iconic venue Ottakringer Brauerei in Vienna. This January, it was my third time at the, as people labeled it “world´s coolest coffee event”. I couldn´t ask for a better company than the girls I went with – truly awesome coffeemates and we surely had a blast, and several espressos too.
So, in January 2019, the Austrian capital Vienna dedicated itself even more to its coffee culture. For the fifth time in a row, from the 11th until the 13th of January to be precise, the yearly coffee festival took place and today I´d like to fill you in on what my coffee girls and I were up to at this heaven of a coffee island in Vienna. This event stands for quality, sustainability and coffee trends and I´d like to show you why.
Each and every year, the organizers including many, many attentive volunteers at the Vienna Coffee Festival (VCF) ensure you´re having a blast at this yearly coffee event. Right at the entrance, you get a tote bag which comes in handy later on when you are about to collect a bunch of magazines, information material, some chocolate treats or cookies here and there and so on. Then, a wee bit later, the next thing you´ll probably notice at the festival right after walking up the staircase to the actual festival coffee stands, is the stage in the community/market area. This year, I sadly did not manage to watch any performances, however, I´ve seen some clips online and the Irish singer and songwriter Dave McKendry, for example, truly excited the visitors with his indie melodies. I´ve actually seen him perform a couple of times on the streets of Vienna already, so I am sure he nailed it at the VCF as well.
Amongst the exhibitors this year besides many others, were the following: Alt Wien Kaffee, Baileys, Gota Coffee, Dallmayr Kaffee, Fürth Kaffee, J. Hornig, Nespresso, Oatly, Röstwerkschaft… You would find coffee roasters, manufacturers, coffeeshops, distributors and famous coffee brands from different cities and regions from Austria like Vienna, Salzburg, Upper Austria, Burgenland, Carinthia, and Styria – to name a few. Every stand was super unique. I think, probably the most interesting part besides the endless coffee tasting (oh wow, we had a few cups indeed), is the part that you get to hear a story behind each and every product. It´s a bit of both really, coffee tasting and storytelling. Such an opportunity to ask all your burning coffee-related questions plus getting to know some insights and learning about coffee, its background, roasting, grinding and much more, is nothing short of precious knowledge. Moreover, it´s nice to have an actual face to the coffee brand and get to know the team and the creators behind a good you´re enjoying on such a regular basis. Cheers to that!
One very special experience offered Dallmayr this year. Let me quickly show you some pictures in order to familiarise yourself with the setting and then I am going to explain what this was all about…
Coffee & Food Pairing
The chef who introduced us girls to some different matches – as in coffee, tea, and sweets – really made us curious about this whole coffee and food pairing process.
The lovely chef wearing all-white took us on a whole culinary journey accompanied by many stories. Imagine this: out of one single coffee bean, you get numerous kinds of aroma. As every coffee bean slightly differs, the outcome of variations is pretty endless. Such types of aroma go great with various foods, you just need to know which and how to best combine them. At the VCF for example, Dallmayr prepared four different variations for the visitors. We had two small cups of tea – fruits and herbs and two cups of espresso – a Brasilian yellow bourbon one and an Italian creamy, almost chocolaty one. The treats the chef and his team prepared us, not only looked amazing and special, they actually tasted like that as well. The teas came with the following: a dice out of yogurt and raspberry cream and a crunchy, sticky “Knusperheu” that had a bit of lemon, basil and mint taste in it. The espressos came with a glazed strawberry and the famous Italian almond confectionery Amaretti.
You can tell, we were all high on sugar and caffeine afterwards – cannot complain. 😉
This trend of food pairing actually has its roots in France. You are probably familiar with the famous combination of wine and cheese. That is actually the base of food pairing which inspired other cultures to do so too. Now, it´s pretty common to serve beverages with sweets – depending on where you go and on your choice and preferences of course, but at least it is not a rare thing. Amongst other well-known food pairing examples are the following: the Swedish ritual FIKA, the British tea time or the Italian Dolce Vita.
Overall, there are about 300 key aromas which help to find the perfect match. Whether it´s tea with savory foods or coffee with sweets, it´s about harmony in the end. Just remember this: the more aromas of the same kind, the better to combine.
The Fantastic Coffee Machine
A further stand that enchanted me, was the one from ELBE which distributes Oro Caffè. They had the most amazing coffee machine ever! Can you imagine this model actually weighs around 90kg? I did spend a few moments just staring at it, to be honest… It was almost like a piece of art to look at, very shiny and powerful.
Another product of this coffee distributor headquartered in Carinthia made me curios as well. I did not take a picture, but the team there introduced me to their latest edition of a milk frother. With this product, you´ll be able to even froth cold milk which is great when you´re craving for an iced cappuccino in the summer.
Another thing, I really appreciate about the coffee festival, is the intercultural energy. You meet all kinds of different people sharing the same passion which is great for exchanging opinions and expertise, not to mention getting familiar with new trends and cultural specialties. This year, even a coffee stand from South America was amongst the exhibitors which served delicious coffee rum on ice in a reusable cup. Cups up for that!
Another highlight, I´d like to add to my list here, is one about storytelling. Nespresso Austria took the visitors on a virtual coffee journey through the magic of virtual reality glasses. The visitors could simply escape into a virtual world of coffee – like from production to consumption. While having this virtual glasses on, you instantly felt as you would join the farmers and distributors on the whole coffee value creation chain. You would see how they collect the coffee cherries, what they do with the beans and how this whole process from coffee cherry to the capsule actually happens. In addition to this little virtual coffee journey, Nespresso presented its newest limited editions. To make it less secretly what the latest capsule flavors actually consist of, they prepared a little “tasting exhibition” – on the second picture below you see how it looked like. For example, the purple capsule is a very fruity one and the aroma comes very close to this whole bunch of wild berries and raspberries in the jar next to it.
Besides the coffee tasting and chatting with fellow coffee lovers and coffee entrepreneurs, there are plenty of other things to do too! There are workshops and masterclasses that fill you in different areas of the world of coffee. You can learn so much directly from the experts and this setting allows yourself to improvise and experiment a bit too. I am always a big fan of the live sessions, such as the cupping challenge and the latte art competition. One of the pioneers when it comes to latte art are definitely the MUMAC mates. Every time I see them creating new latte art motives, I ask myself…could I do that too? I am so keen on learning at least the basics someday soon. Luckily I even managed to score a voucher, so one more reason to finally try it out, right? Thank you MUMAC Academy, we will see each other soon!
All in all, if you´re planning to visit Vienna around the winter season, it does make sense to add this coffee event to your exploring list. As January usually surprises us weather-wise, it might be good to know where to have a warm, safe, coffee option to go and have fun. Thank you, until next time!