CoffeeCon costs a lot of money. My fantasy of being able to drink the world’s great coffees made in various brewing methods under one roof requires a lot of coordination and cooperation. I am not a wealthy man and I must share these expenses among the coffee roasters and brewer manufacturers to come let you try their products. To be honest, sometimes there’s resistance.
Large companies, roasters, or equipment manufacturers, traditionally attend trade shows, where they can take 1000-piece orders and otherwise woo retail buyers. Some of these folks are against meeting consumers face-to-face. Some don’t want you to taste and compare their products side by side against their competitors’. They feel they can only lose market share. The big guys who show up at CoffeeCon do it because they really understand the concept, are confident their products will stand up to onsite competition and think an informed consumer is a longer-term better customer.
On the spectrum’s other end are mom and pop companies. They put their money into their products and, frankly, from a small business perspective, they must splurge to display at CoffeeCon. When you see a company exhibiting at CoffeeCon, please realize they are the ones who consider you important enough to invest in your enjoyment, against the traditional ROI (return on investment) rules their competitors tell us prevent them from participating.
CoffeeCon is the only consumer coffee festival like this in the country, maybe the world. We’re independent so we’re not beholden to a big brand that would dominate a show. One year in Chicago, McDonalds approached us. They were interested, but we almost ran from their ad agency rep’s office after she suggested her vision of CoffeeCon as hosted by their corporate clown character.
We’re different than trade shows that can finance their shows off larger trade and industrial grants and expositions. However, CoffeeCon’s costs are just as high – actually higher because we pay for travel to bring in high-value presenters like George Howell and Jim Schulman. Iconic Ken Davids is going to be another presenter. The consumer coffee leaders know these names and appreciate the opportunity to meet and learn from them.
Unlike some festivals you may have attended, CoffeeCon is not funded by government grants or local city taxes. The theme of these other festivals is never about coffee. CoffeeCon 100% about coffee and 100% funded by our exhibitor, sponsor and ticket fees.
When Pat and I visit various roasters, it is clear they appreciate their customers and work hard to provide them with sense of belonging. They invest in them because serving their needs makes them more successful. They have an opportunity to extend their brand to them. CoffeeCon in a real sense is advertising, but even better because they can touch these new customers in person.
I just want you to remember to thank our exhibitors for funding it. They’re the ones who get it and are willing to invest in your and my taste buds.