The CafeShow at the COEX Convention and Exhibition Center in Seoul, South Korea was an absolutely massive and truly incredible event. For four busy days in November, over 127,000 conventioneers flocked to the five packed halls of international exhibitors showcasing their coffee adjacent wares.
Desserts, teas, and cafe accouterments packed Hall B, and just across the way,coffee machines for sorting, roasting, brewing, packing, serving, selling, and vending shared space in Hall A. Well-known coffee brands held court in Halls D and C, offering daily activations of in-person demonstrations, tastings, and events. Competitions flanked the halls—exquisite cuppings were an hourly convenience—and the sheer amount of things to do and see was at times overwhelming.
All the while, the World Coffee Leaders Forum was taking place up a maze of escalators, featuring US Barista Champion Laila Ghambari presenting on leadership in the cafe space in 2023, as well as a notable talk from coffee content creator Nadia Park (their Instagram is well worth the follow).
One could easily take this all in without giving a thought to a corner of the event tucked away through a narrow corridor just past Hall D. But follow the line of (literally) hundreds of attendees, and one could discover what was, in my opinion, perhaps the most exciting and inspirational part of CafeShow: The Coffee Alley.
The Coffee Alley at CafeShow
The Coffee Alley hosted over 73 coffee roasters (!), all of whom built-out unique booths and experiences onsite at the show. Each booth offered a slice of their coffee perspective, with coffee and espresso samples, whole bean coffees to purchase, and all manner of thoughtful merch.
Folks familiar with the Specialty Coffee Association’s annual North American Expo may find similarities with their Roasters Village program. But there’s one significant difference here in Seoul: The Coffee Alley is geared toward consumers. CafeShow deftly balances B2B and B2C, building a week’s worth of activations suited for anyone who appreciates coffee (and coffee adjacent beverages/consumables).
Here were just a few of our most favorite experiences at The Coffee Alley.
Young & Daughters
Company: Young & Daughters
Location: Gongdeok, Seoul, South Korea
Location: Hongdae, Seoul, South Korea
Public Coffee Roasters
Company: Public Coffee Roasters
Location: Gumi, South Korea
Rosso Coffee Roasters/Um Coffee
Company: Rosso Coffee Roasters/Um Coffee
Location: Calgary / Sao Paolo / Seoul
Company: Coffee Libre
Location: Yeonnam / Myeongdong, Seoul, South Korea
Countryside Craft Coffee
Company: Countryside Craft Coffee
Location: Deogyang-gu, Korea
Check out their official website.
Zachary Carlsen is a co-founder and editor at Sprudge Media Network.