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Roasting Education at Coffee Fest

Roasting Education at Coffee Fest

Roasting Education at Coffee Fest

In 2023, Mill City Roasters joined Coffee Fest as the Roasting Education Sponsor. Coffee Fest shows allow us to connect with business owners who are just starting their businesses, people who are eager to learn and make decisions about their equipment and vendors, and coffee professionals who are scaling up. It’s also a fast-growing show with events taking place in new and expanding markets across the US every year.


Now, in our second year as a sponsor, we’ve continued our support of Coffee Fest because of the overwhelming positive feedback we’ve received from show attendees and the amount of new customers we’ve reached at these events. With over 100 exhibitors and several thousand attendees participating at each Coffee Fest Event, it’s an incredible opportunity to network, learn, and connect with the specialty coffee community.


Over the two-day and three-day shows, we’ve designed a full schedule of classes and lectures, most of which are free for show attendees. The sessions touch on topics ranging from an introduction to roasting, building sensory skills, designing a commercial roasting facility, and using sensory cues to better understand roast profiles. Essentially, these classes are a sampling of the types of topics we cover in our popular in-person Roasting 101 classes, hosted at our headquarters in Minneapolis monthly. Many Coffee Fest attendees are new to the world of roasting, and these hour-long lessons help to demystify the craft of specialty roasting, greens sourcing, and tasting.


Big Red Roast Rig


One of the biggest draws to our booth is the fact that we don’t have a booth at all. Instead, we drive our 40-foot custom built Peterbilt box truck onto the show floor and pop out the side panels and rear loading ramp. The truck, affectionately nicknamed the Big Red Roast Rig, serves as a mobile roasting lab, espresso bar, and showroom. On board we’ve got two La Marzocco Linea Minis, a dual Fetco brewer, Mazzer and Mahlkonig grinders, and a 2 kilogram Mill City Roaster with our digital roasting system.


In front of the truck, we’ve set up our classroom with seating for students, TV screens, audio equipment, a coffee tasting station, and our newest roaster model, an all-electric 2kg roaster connected to a ReiCatino® Catalytic Afterburner. The afterburner allows us to host live roasting demonstrations throughout the day right on the show floor. From show open to close each day, attendees can stop by our area, typically at the back of the show floor for easy access to the exterior loading bays, and enjoy fresh-brewed coffee, sit in on a class, check out the equipment, enjoy an espresso, or chat with our team.


We appreciate the chance to answer questions as general as “what size roaster do I need to get started” or as specific as “what do I need to know to be able to install this roaster in my cafe”. Over the past ten years, we’ve helped thousands of customers start their own roasting facilities and launch successful brands, sharing the lessons we’ve learned along the way and helping others get started is our favorite part of this journey.


Although we are the exclusive roasting education sponsor of the show, several other manufacturers exhibit at Coffee Fest. At previous events attendees had the chance to stop by the booths of Bellwether, Loring Smart Roast, USRC, or Coffee Crafters to learn more about their roasting systems and services.


There are additional educational opportunities for roasters, as well. Specialty coffee importers Cafe Imports and Sucafina host daily coffee cuppings, allowing guests to build their sensory skills and experience new and unique coffee offerings. Classroom sessions on topics like Roasting vs. Private Label and business panels on the keys to successfully building your brand are also very informative and useful. Of course, there are also dozens of espresso machine and grinder manufacturers, syrup and tea makers, vessels and wares companies, and exhibitors showcasing bags, stickers, food items, green coffee, and more. Anything you can find inside a coffee shop or roastery is represented by an exhibitor at Coffee Fest.


We love being a part of these shows, and welcome any chance we have to get on the road and meet new folks who are interested in coffee. As Mill City owner Steve Green likes to say, coffee people are generally the best people, and there’s no place that we see that more than at Coffee Fest. To read more about our experiences at previous events and see some more photos, check out our recaps on Louisville 2023 and New York 2024. We hope to see you at a show this year!


Big Red Roast Rig Big Red Roast Rig Big Red Roast Rig


This blog post was created by Lauren Lathrop - Mill City Roasters. Lauren Lathrop is the Director of Education for Mill City Roasters and has worked as a coffee trainer since 2014. Through her work with roasters and baristas, she helps people understand the world of specialty coffee and build confidence in their craft.


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