The festival’s inaugural DC event brought in local roasters and newcomers to the scene.
I’ve been to my fair share of wine and beer festivals, but a coffee festival piqued my interest. And, last weekend, The DC Coffee Festival brought unlimited samples of rich, warm coffee and creamy nitro cold brew to Dock 5.
The siren call of steaming hot pour over brews drew in coffee fans from across the District. Over two dozen roasters and coffee-related accouterments brought the best of their offerings to the event, each setting up shop to show off their bests roasts while attendees compared the nuances between dark and light roasts. If you’ve ever wondered if a slow, intentional pour over could be conducted en masse — the answer is yes.
Personally, I’m a latte drinker who takes her frothing and flavors seriously. So I kicked things off at La Coop Coffee, a Brightwood-based coffee shop sourcing beans from owner Juan Luis’ native Guatemala. The team was serving 8 oz. sizes of everything from a dirty horchata to a flat white to a pumpkin spice latte, and doing so with extreme precision and efficiency. For those who are curious, I’ll put it on record that this pumpkin spice latte is made for the non-pumpkin drinkers. Not too sweet and incredibly creamy, with a hint of fall, it’s nothing like what you’ll find from the big guys.
There were several D.C. staples at the DC Coffee Festival, but one newcomer to the scene was Curundu Coffee, who used the event as their official launch. Founded by two friends who first met in Panama City, Panamá, Curundu is bringing Panamanian coffee, including the rare Gesha varietal, to the US. The group was eager to share Panama’s coffee culture with festival-goers, especially since the country is often under-represented in coffee shops across the country.
I was thrilled to see Black Acres Roastery out of Baltimore — I first picked up their Colombia Aponte Honey blend at Trader Joe’s, and it’s become a staple in my kitchen. It’s floral and fruit forward, and perfect for lattes, though I can now confirm their other coffee, like the Lexington Market Blend and the Seya Blend will also become go-to roasts.
But, despite coffee being the star of the show, one of the buzziest vendors was a brand that’s more coffee-adjacent. Comeback, based in Memphis, TN, started as a coffee shop and roaster before venturing into uncharted waters. They launched two coffee soda flavors, made with a coffee base, a touch of flavor and carbonation. There’s the Field Day, a strawberry lime coffee soda that is shockingly refreshing, and Southern Style, made with lemon and thyme. Combined with their made-for-social branding, they kept a consistent line all day — and I was one of the many people who left with a four-pack of their sodas.
Another non-coffee favorite was J.T. Cooper out of Floyd, VA. Positioned right next to Red Rooster Coffee, a Floyd roaster that has made a name for themselves beyond Nelson County. The calming and nostalgic aesthetic of their syrups made it seem as if you’d stepped right into the mountains. With flavors like Amber Caramel, Sweet Mint and Firecracker, these syrups are as good on a spoon as they are in coffee or even on ice cream. The Barista Syrup Sampler Box was another item that found its way home with me.
The surprise of the day? Realizing you have to pace yourself when surrounded by caffeinated beverages — unless your goal is to have the most energetic Saturday on record.
The DC Coffee Festival will return in 2024. Follow them on Instagram @dccoffeefestival for details.
Want to discover more about D.C.’s latest and greatest coffee shops? Join the District Fray community for exclusive access to drink experiences citywide. Become a member and support local journalism today.