I have long championed the notion that Charlotte, North Carolina is the best coffee scene in America that rarely gets mentioned in the conversation about best coffee scenes in America. For a five-hour distillate of proof, look no further than the POUR Coffee Festival, taking place Sunday, March 10th at Lenny Boy Brewing. After a wildly successful inaugural event last year, POUR is back and bigger than ever. And this year, they are focusing on their three main pillars: sustainability, education, and diversity.
Created by Diana Mnatsakanyan-Sapp (Undercurrent Coffee) and Matt Dudley (Marco Beverage Systems), POUR celebrates the Southeastern coffee community with a day chockfull of coffee and espresso sipping, educational events, and tasty bites.
“The coffee industry—both nationally and internationally—is growing at such a rapid pace,” says Mnatsakanyan-Sapp, “and we wanted to make sure that all of the ground-breaking, interesting and downright delicious stuff happening in our backyards wasn’t getting lost. This festival is a celebration of the creativity and passion that we see being poured out by our Southeastern coffee community.”
Vendors this year include Counter Culture Coffee, Black and White Coffee Roasters, Methodical Coffee, Summit Coffee, Pure Intentions Coffee, Nightflyer Roastworks, Enderly Coffee Co., HEX Coffee, 4th Dimension Roasters, 1000 Faces Coffee, Slingshot Coffee, Junto Coffee, Cafe Femenino Coffee, Spirit Tea, Haerfest Coffee, Joe van Gogh, Arabica Soda, Verdant Bread, Fūd on the Mūv, Golden and Grey, VP Coffee, and Ally Coffee.
Event topics will range from green coffee buying to water chemistry to coffee tech. But perhaps the biggest change to this year’s festival comes not from the coffee being served, but from the imperative placed on issues like sustainability and diversity. With sponsorship from Oatly, POUR is providing every guest a ceramic mug to be used throughout the day as a way of cutting down waste, moving the festival significantly closer to their goal of being zero-waste. “Last year we only had four 50-gallon trash bags of non-recyclable, non-compostable garbage at the end of our 400+ attendee festival, says Dudley. “This year, we’re taking what we’ve learned and are working to reduce that number even more.”
To help foster diversity within the coffee industry, POUR is donating a portion of all proceeds to Glitter Cat Barista Bootcamp to help get a more diverse set of faces on the US Barista Championship stage to better represent the entire coffee community.
Bad news for everyone just finding out about POUR, though (and maybe a small sliver of good news), even with the event increasing in size this year, it has already sold out. BUT! You should head over to Instagram where, thanks to Mnatsakanyan-Sapp and Dudley, Sprudge is giving away two tickets at this very moment!
There is also a waiting list would-be attendees can sign up for, and should any tickets come available (which they will, speaking from experience putting on local coffee festivals here, they most certainly will), names will be pulled from the list. And if you don’t want to leave your tickets up to chance, you can sign up for POUR’s newsletter via their website. That way, you’ll be the first to know when tickets go on sale and you can stay up to date on other events they are putting on.
The coffee industry needs more events like POUR: local, grassroots, with the entire community in mind. Not just coffee professionals and geeks and not just whatever you picture whenever you think of a coffee person. POUR is for everyone. And as much as I love coffee competitions—covering them is a perennial highlight for me—their benefit is often internal, coffee people recognizing the hard work of other coffee people. Which is great, too, but local, community-facing events like POUR, they can make seismic shifts in their coffee culture far beyond that of even a national or world coffee competition.
POUR is the blueprint. Now you just have to figure out a way to access it.
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 POUR Coffee Festival