la marzocco true artisan cafe new york coffee festival 2015 stumptown roasters counter culture george howell sprudge

The inaugural edition of the New York Coffee Festival happened last weekend in Manhattan. We checked out all the exhibits, talks, and booze with contributors Elizabeth Chai and D. Robert Wolchek, and will be bringing you event coverage throughout the week on Sprudge.

New York City is home to a seemingly endless list of quality cafes—a list worth digging into, but difficult to put a dent in. At the New York Coffee Festival (September 25–27), La Marzocco set up their traveling espresso machine caravan as a True Artisan Cafe to provide a front-and-center showcase for some of the finest coffee companies collected into one place. Each featured coffee company was given a blank slate to create a customized menu, and visitors were given the opportunity to experience the lineup of 20 menus over the three-day festival weekend without having to crawl the city.

The True Artisan cafe featured unique coffee services from a truly remarkable roaster roster, including Bluestone Lane, Grade Coffee, Brooklyn Roasting Company, Parlor Coffee, Plowshares Coffee, Third Rail Coffee, Stumptown Coffee, Toby's Estate, Counter Culture Coffee, George Howell Coffee, Gotham Roasters, Sweetleaf, La Colombe, Variety Coffee Roasters, Blue Bottle Coffee, Gimme! Coffee, Ninth Street Espresso, Joe Coffee, Irving Farm Coffee Roasters, and Coffee Labs.

la marzocco true artisan cafe new york coffee festival 2015 stumptown roasters counter culture george howell sprudge

I selected a few favorites to check out at the True Artisan Cafe on day two of the festival: Counter Culture Coffee, the Durham, North Carolina-based roaster/behemoth whose roots continue to thicken as they expand deep into the concrete jungle; Portland’s Stumptown Coffee Roasters, whose East Coast presence has both grown and thrived since their New York flagship was installed at the Ace Hotel in 2009; and George Howell Coffee, the Boston-area based roaster and “grandfather of specialty coffee.”

la marzocco true artisan cafe new york coffee festival 2015 stumptown roasters counter culture george howell sprudge

Counter Culture's resident baristas Tymika Lawrence and Corey Reilly worked together to create “Summer is So Three Days Ago”, a tiki cocktail-style signature-beverage to exhibit Sweet Valley High, a limited-release blend of washed Ethiopia coffees (50% Haru and 50% Idido). To enhance the notes of brown sugar and pineapple in the Sweet Valley High espresso, they added freshly squeezed lime juice and a spiced simple-syrup infused with cardamom, clove, star anise, and all-spice. This concoction gets shaken with ice, and splashed with tonic to add sparkle and to smooth the texture and round out flavor. The result? A bright and zesty homage to summer with a splash of cosy to usher in the fall.

la marzocco true artisan cafe new york coffee festival 2015 stumptown roasters counter culture george howell sprudge

Stumptown's Emily Rosenberg and James Simmons worked with wholesale partner, Happy Cooking NYC’s Beverage Director, Brian Bartles, to develop a signature-beverage “perfect for fall.” Starting with a single-origin espresso, Montes de Oro, a Costa Rica Tarrazu with notes of graham cracker and brown sugar—Bartles decided to give a nod to his mother’s Rice Krispie Treat recipe. A heavy syrup of butterscotch, chocolate, and peanut butter was made and added to a macchiato, then sprinkled with Rice Krispies. Delicious and rich like drinking chocolate, even a specialty coffee drinker shouldn’t feel guilty about celebrating the coming of fall with this tiny, cozy little frou-frou drink.

la marzocco true artisan cafe new york coffee festival 2015 stumptown roasters counter culture george howell sprudge

My last stop was with George Howell Coffee, where Paolo Maliski was pulling shots for a simple menu of espresso and cappuccino with their La Soledad Guatemala. Maliski also had an off-menu option of George Howell’s La Piramide Colombia, which he quickly dialed in so I could sample it as espresso alongside a cappuccino made with the Guatemala. Maliski shared about how this La Piramide has been getting a lot of attention this season because it carries many of the revered traits of a classic Colombian, and the GH team believes it is the best they have had in awhile. The Colombia as espresso was fragrant like rose petals, with a juicy cranberry pucker, and a slight finish of citric bergamot like that of an earl grey tea. Janet Hoshino, Director of Sales, reported that George Howell’s take on this finish is “a touch of wintergreen that he calls the coffee’s ‘spirit.’”

la marzocco true artisan cafe new york coffee festival 2015 stumptown roasters counter culture george howell sprudge

La Marzocco utilizes their True Artisan Cafe format at select coffee events worldwide, and has plans to feature US coffee companies in the True Artisan Cafe at their Out of the Box 2015 event in Milan, in October.

Elizabeth Chai (@chaiamericano) is a graphic designer and freelance writer based in Atlanta. Read more Elizabeth Chai on Sprudge.