Coffee 101 at Coffee Con in LA!

CoffeeCon LA - Photo by Jill Weinlein
CoffeeCon LA – Photo by Jill Weinlein

Entering the LA Mart I was so excited to see hundreds of people talking with coffee purveyors and socializing with other coffee aficionados. The Coffee Connoisseur  – Kevin Sinnott invited me to check out this day of celebration of coffee. Fans sampled fresh brewed hot and cold coffee from a variety of roasted beans throughout the world.

There were classes to attend and all day hands-on labs. It was a great place to buy a French press for home, learn about Turkish coffee, and enjoy bits of coffee beans in artisan chocolates.IMG_2635

Here are 10 exhibitors that taught me something new and gave me a great cup of Joe –

Plant a coffee tree in LA - Photo by Jill Weinlein
Plant a coffee tree in LA – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  1. Bring Home a Coffee Plant from CA Coffee Growers  – Since 2004, coffee has been growing in Santa Barbara County, in Goleta, California. Farmers and entrepreneurs, Jay Ruskey of Good Land Organics and Jim Shanley of Shanley Farms, created a greenhouse to grow the coffee plants. The varietals offered include Coffea arabica – var. Caturra Rojo; Coffea arabica – var. Caturra Amarillo; Coffea arabica – var. Pacas; and Coffea arabica – var. Leroy (Pointed Bourbon).IMG_2601
  2. Eat Chocolate! Located in Glendale and Pasadena, Mignon Chocolate offered samples of their extraordinary chocolates. Since 1935 they have been making a variety of white, milk and dark chocolates. I enjoyed a 56% dark chocolate granache and a dark chocolate infused with chili pepper in a dark chocolate shell. They also had gift boxes filled with orange ganache, pomegrante, lavender and ginger lime sea salt.

    Coffee on Tap
    Coffee on Tap – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  3. Caribbean Coffee – Introduces artisan, 100% Bona Fide fair trade organic certified coffees on tap! This cold coffee is brewed with a highly specialized process and put up in Sankey D beer kegs, the safest containers for long-term storage and distribution. Bring your growler and have it filled to bring home.Founded in Santa Barbara in 1986, Caribbean Coffee Company produces premium roasted coffee and tea. The are a wholesaler of café equipment to restaurants, coffee houses, hotels, offices and other retailers. I sipped a Hair Raiser Craft Draft that is blended from coffee sourced from Sumatra, Congo and Ethiopia. It offered a deep-toned aroma with the essence of cedar, flowers, pineapple, vanilla and semi-sweet chocolate. Nitrogen adds a creamy start that softens the richly round and bittersweet peeks. This black-hole-dark brew has a smokey character with a tickle of pineapple.

    Peet's Coffee Barista Trainer Melanie - Photo by Jill Weinlein
    Peet’s Coffee Barista Trainer Melanie – Photo by Jill Weinlein
  4. I met Melanie Delia from Peet’s Coffee – She works at the UCLA Peet’s Coffee Shop and trains the new baristas in a three-hour course, as she travels from Brentwood to Pasadena. Melanie gave me a Keurig Major Dickason’s Blend Dark Roast coffee capsule. Peet’s sells one light roast (Columbia Luminosa), five mediums roasts, 23 dark roasts and an Italian and French extra dark roast. They purchase beans from the Americas, Indo Pacific and Africa/Arabia.IMG_2612
  5. Groundworks Coffee – I learned that the company started in Venice Beach, CA as a single coffee and tea shop. They also sold rare and used books. Soon they began roasting 24/7 and got out of the book business. Coffee is one of the greatest resources, yet it is one of the most heavily sprayed crops. All the coffee from Groundworks is organic. They were the first certified organic coffee roasters in California and the largest in L.A. They have solar-powered, low-emissions roasting technology and eight café locations in LA. What made this coffee table stand out among all the others was the line of people waiting to get a sample of a freshly made Moroccan Toddy Blossom made with cold brew concentrate, filtered water, orange juice, agave, orange blossom water, cardamom, ice and a shaker. It was terrific.  Check out their website – http://www.groundworkcoffee.comIMG_2611
  6. What goes well with Coffee? A pastry, right? Natas Pastries from Sherman Oaks – was on hand offering bite size pieces of their Duchaise – a French name for a Portuguese favorite, an éclair of custard, with whipped cream and “fios de ovos.” It’s a Portugese monastery secret recipe. The cafe serves authentic pastries & food from Portugal –

    IMG_26197. Kona Bar – gave out samples of their chocolate with bits of Kona coffee beans infused with hibiscus flowers, toasted coconut, passion fruit, and pure Tahitian vanilla chocolate bites. They also roast “No Ka Oi” 100% Kona Coffee IMG_2620

    8. Forto Strong Coffee gave out a samples of their 2 oz. bottles to attendees. One bottle is equivalent in caffeine to two cups of cold pressed coffee. It was created by a sleep-deprived father of twins who needed wholesome energy to stay awake. He made this organic, natural energy beverage from Fair-trade 100% Arabica coffee beans. He cold-brewed it in a unique 20-hour process to be deliciously smooth. It is recommended to limit two bottles per day, and space it out several hours apart.

    IMG_26258. I learned so much about Turkish Coffee at STC Specialty Turkish Coffee – I watched how they heated up hand formed and hammered Soy Turkish Coffee pots made in Istanbul, Turkey. They were selling heavy duty brass grinder with steel conical burrs handmade by Sozen Turkish Coffee Grinders. Three Chairs Coffee Roasters use specialty coffee beans to brew cups of Turkish Coffee that attendees sampled- 

    IMG_26179. Klatch Coffee – They buy the top 1% of coffee beans from around the world. It’s a family affair – Mike Perry is the head roaster, earning Micro Roaster of the Year in 2009. Cindy Perry is the CFO. Heather Perry is the VP and Director of Training and Consulting for Klatch Coffee. She competes in barista competitions. Klatch Coffee was the only espresso awarded “Best Espresso in the World” at the World Barista Championships. Holly Perry is the General Store Manager. Klatch is the largest wholesale coffee company specializing in single-origin coffees and world best espresso blends. In the 2012 Coffee Fest in Seattle, WA – Klatch was awarded America’s Best Coffeehouse –

    IMG_263010. Alana’s Coffee Roasting Company – Named after The the founder Eric Stogsdill’s daughter Alana. He roasts the best gourmet, organic coffee beans in the world. His coffee is available local Farmers Markets in hand-stamped, brown-bags. Here is where you can find his coffee – Tuesday @ Culver City CFM 2 – 7 pm, Wednesdays @ Westchester CFM 8:30am – 1 pm,Thursdays @ Redondo Beach Farmer’s Market 8 am – 1 pm and La Cienega and 18th from 2 – 7 pm and Sundays in West LA CFM 8 am – 2 pm

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