Nothing warms the heart more than a hot cuppa.
Welcome to the Coffee Geek, a blog that discusses everything about your favorite brew. I thought that the best way to inaugurate it was to bring a coffee festival to you.
The Thailand Coffee Fest was a real hub for everything caffeinated. Without a doubt, I got my fill of the energizing compound at this event. It showcased everything about everyone’s favorite brew.
The festival was an opportunity to shop for the best coffee beans, machines and café’s available throughout Thailand. It was also a chance for me to witness the amazing talents of Thailand’s great coffee farmers, masters and barista’s.
About the Coffee Fest : Brew Your Life
Held at the Queen Sirikit Convention Center in Bangkok, it showcased a photo gallery of coffee plantations and respected farmers all over Thailand. It was fascinating how they showed this industry has burgeoned over the years and putting Thailand on the map as the rising another coffee hub of the world in years to come. I had a blast going through it.
This festival gives the most skilled baristas all over Thailand the opportunity to showcase their artistry. The first two days of the event centered around pour over drip coffee while the next two focused on the craft of latte art.
My impressions of the Coffee Fest, in its inaugural year, were positive. I actually expected a lot less as far as size. But there was a huge turn out from all types prospective coffee vendors particularly businesses providing coffee machines to café’s and coffee shops. I have no doubt that next year the event will go to another level.
After my first round of walking through the vendor stalls. I finally stumbled upon my good friends Mr Lee from Akha Ama Coffee based in Chiang Mai. I soon realized how little I knew about what was happening my hometown over the last few months with the project Lee and his associates had formed. This new initiatives spearheaded by Mr Lee of filled me with keen interest. He brought together a group of roasters from Northern Thailand and Bangkok named Friends Trade. Its aim is to band together and share knowledge on improving the quality of coffee and processing in the country. Another reason why it’s only a matter of time for Thai coffee to be discovered.
Creating the perfect brew
This year’s competition had an apt theme, “brew your life.” The festival was a way to celebrate the work of Thailand’s brewing masters. The coveted Thailand’s Brewer’s Cup was up for grabs.
This brewing competition was nothing less than intriguing. Each brewer brought with him/her a set of unique brewing techniques. Changes in bean, roast profile, equipment, brewing or pouring techniques make a big difference to the way coffee tastes. Coffee lovers could attend workshops that taught the art of perfecting your ultimate brew. I picked up a few barista skills myself. By simply tapping a V60 down onto the cup or beaker after the first bloom will help compress the grind and slow the water flow allowing better flavor extraction for drip coffee.
There were 17 participants in total. Six went through to the semi-finals of the competition. Three above-par baristas emerged its well-deserved winners.
I felt delighted for, and Jattupon Laongtragoon, Danusorn Boonyavanichkul and Ekameth Wipvasutti. Ekameth, with superior skills, emerged the winner of the Brewer’s Cup. Talking to him after it was nice to congratulate him on his efforts. All three place getters are from my favorite café in Bangkok – One Ounce for Onion.
A panel of three judges assessed each brew. A guest judge from Hong Kong, Virginia Tam, oversaw the competition – also a good friend of mine.
The Green Bean Competition
The festival was an incredible learning opportunity. I discovered the diversity of the extraordinary coffee bean. The Coffee Fest was a way to get access to the best coffee beans in the Thailand, and I am not exaggerating.
It delighted attendees with a green bean competition. Industry players took processed green beans from farmers. The sheer number of bean varieties sourced locally intrigued me.
There were many varieties of them, all being judged with and without husks. The spread also included roasted beans too. Organizers auctioned the beans.
Growers set prices per kilo, but whoever won the auction had to multiply this by 100. I am in awe of the Friends Trade group, which did them justice. They came out as the highest bidder for the first place green beans at a sizable clip – approximately $30USD a kilo!
All About Speciality Coffee
The crowds at the Coffee Fest were a testament to the impact of the brew. I was drowned in a sea of coffee lovers.
Coffee has evolved over the past decade. Coffee brewing in Thailand has now evolved into a form of art. Coffee connoisseurs are gaining prominence, much like wine sommelier’s.
Speciality coffee in Thailand has boomed over the last five years. For the uninitiated, it refers to any coffee that scores 80 points or more on a 100-point scale. A gentleman by the name of Pee from Gallery Drip located in Bangkok introduced speciality drink coffee to Thailand. Since its advent, it has taken on new heights and adapted.
The speciality coffee association of Thailand was to kick off the annual latte competition. This event is one for die-hard coffee geeks like me.
Delighting the taste buds
What is a coffee without an accompanying treat? There was an auction of delicious coffee-influenced bites, and I salivated looking at them.
My jaw dropped at the endless range of coffee stalls and the smorgasbord of food. I walked through the Coffee Village Zone, a lane of chic coffee shops. Trendy is an understatement to describe them. I had a latte cocktail from a trendy bar run by an enterprising man named Siung.
The Latte Art Competition
Then it was on to the Latte Art Championship. I only caught the tail end of the final day of judging which I was disappointed about having sprained my ankle a few nights before hand. Nonetheless, from what I had seen these guys and girls were super talented.
One should never undermine the astute creativity of baristas. The way they managed to create feathery owls out of froth floored me. I just had to post a photo of one on my facebook page.
Gorsawas Chantana, Pondnapa Khankaew and Vitsawit Chantaweesomboon stood out among the latte artists. Gorwawas’ latte art techniques were mind-blowing. He became the latte art champion of the year.
I cannot begin to express how proud I felt for them. I hold enormous respect for them and their craft.
Final Take Away
The last day of the competition was, by far, the busiest one. This event attracted the attention of coffee lovers all over the world.
To say that the event was mind-blowing for a first time coffee event in Thailand is an understatement. I understood how much the industry has grown since I arrived in the country.
The presence of talented latte artists and brew craftsman overwhelmed me. They showed that the artisan aspect of coffee has developed beyond anyone’s imagination.
To every reader and coffee lover, have another warm cuppa, on me.