How many CoffeeCon events can we produce per year? Answer: Given our resources, that is two people, Pat and me, devoting ourselves to the cause pretty much full time, we’ve found can do three per year. Since we’ve so far completed two this year, it leaves one left to do. When we started I think we always assumed we’d have a Chicago event. It’s my home town and of course I have sentimental reasons to want to do it.
However, in analysis Chicago is one of our more difficult cities. There’s a large wholesale business, but one that at its heart does not consider itself specialty. The largest specialty chain in town, Intelligentsia, certainly considers itself specialty but has never participated in CoffeeCon. We had a beautiful venue last year, but its manager is so difficult to work with that neither of us can imagine going back there, assuming she’d have us.
Meanwhile, one month before CoffeeCon NY, several Seattle roasters contacted us and asked if we’d consider having CoffeeCon there in December. Needless to say, Seattle is among the key coffee cities in the US. Frankly, I’ve been a little hesitant to approach them, feeling a little like a guitarist offering to bring my musicianship to Nashville to show ‘em a few things. Their asking solves any of my concerns and we’re traveling there to meet.
I was still hoping there would be time. Even Pat doesn’t know this, but I was secretly hoping I could find a way to schedule a Fall CoffeeCon Chicago. Sadly both of Pat’s parents, elderly, but otherwise in reasonably good health, became ill and died within 30 days of each other. Even removing our understandable grief at this, the duties of heirs are more profound than I ever imagined, as was their final months care.
So, under current conditions, we have no way to fund, organize and produce CoffeeCon in our home town in 2016. In order to put any potential rumors to rest, I absolutely love the coffee scene here. I feel personally close to the roasters, baristas and consumers, some of whom supported us from the very beginning. I think we have some awesome roasters on par with any I’ve ever met and I feel personally bad that we can’t seem to figure out how to squeeze Chicago in.
I was hoping to put this off until after my Seattle trip, just so I could solidify those plans and rule out any possible way I could still make both happen. But I’ve had several of you, plus some in-town media contacts reach out to me recently, asking about Chicago. I figured transparency was the best response.
Please know that I still wish I could find a way during 2016, but if I can’t pull that off at least know that for 2017 my number one priority will be CoffeeCon Chicago.