What does a coffee festival organizer do in the time of COVID-19, when even when folks aren’t under Shelter in Place orders they are reluctant to go out in large group or GASP! drinking from a communal coffee? The answer, at least if you are Oatly’s Diana Mnatsakanyan-Sapp and Marco Beverage Systems‘ Matt Dudley, co-founders of the No Filter Coffee Festival, is to move it online. So that’s exactly what they have done. Taking place May 12-16, the No Filter Coffee Festival is going virtual and heading to Instagram Live!

Building off the success of prior year’s festivals, back when it was a brick-and-mortar festival in Charlotte, NC under the moniker of the POUR Coffee Festival, the No Filter Coffee Festival will be utilizing talent from across the Southeastern coffee community to an expanded, digital audience. Mnatsakanyan-Sapp tells Sprudge that the purpose of the rebrand, which was already in the works before the decision to go virtual was made, is to reflect the shift to a “bigger, more all-encompassing kind of event.” Mnatsakanyan-Sapp continues, “Our 2020 event is scheduled for early November (and technically it still is, but the world is changing constantly and to prioritize the safety of our attendees and vendors, we are currently playing it by ear) in Charlotte, NC. But when we saw how heavily affected coffee businesses were as a result of COVID-19, we knew we had to do something to help. As an event we have always tried to thoughtfully bridge the gap between coffee consumers and coffee professionals, and this virtual festival felt like a really natural extension of the work we’ve been doing since 2018 to help support a more educated, empowered and connected Southeastern coffee community.”

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Over the course of the four-day event, coffee professionals will take to Insta airwaves to offer the viewing public virtual coffee classes, roasting demos, giveaways, and so much more (y’know, all the stuff you’d expect to see at a coffee fest, but online). The schedule includes Brewing Espresso at Home hosted by Black & White Coffee’s Lem Butler, Sustainability & Coffee: A Virtual Coffee Chat by Counter Culture, COVID-19 and the Coffee Price Crisis hosted by 1000 Faces Coffee with special guest Felipe Croce of FAF Coffee Brazil, a look behind the scenes at a Peruvian coffee farm with Pure Intentions Coffee, and so much more.

For Mnatsakanyan-Sapp, the foray into the digital space has the ability to bring the No Filter Coffee Festival to a much wider audience. “Personally, I’m excited about what this means for other events we do in the future. Curating a festival experience in the digital space is kind of uncharted territory, but with that new territory comes the opportunity to make events more accessible to people of all walks, means, abilities, and more. I think about baristas working in rural parts of the South who might want to attend something like NFCF but lack the means to travel and take off from work, or a person with limited mobility who wants to learn a new skill, or folks who struggle with social anxiety and can’t stand being in large crowds… we open up our ability to serve a much broader audience when we lean into these digital ‘gatherings'”.

The 2020 No Filter Coffee Festival is free to attend. All you have to do is find the classes and talks you’d like to take part in on the NFCF calendar, then head to the Instagram account of the coffee company hosting the event at the stated time for the livestreamed event. For more information on the event or to get a full roster of events, head over to No Filter Coffee Festival’s official website.

Zac Cadwalader is the managing editor at Sprudge Media Network and a staff writer based in Dallas. Read more Zac Cadwalader on Sprudge.

Top image via the No Filter Coffee Festival

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