Starting today, people from around the world will gather in celebration of specialty coffee in New York City.
More than 12,000 visitors are expected to attend the New York Coffee Festival, which takes place September 16-18 at the 69th Regiment Armory in Manhattan. Now in its second year, the event highlights artisan coffee and gourmet food, with demonstrations from world-class baristas, live music and art. The festival is also the official launch event for Coffee Week NYC™, which provides an opportunity to celebrate the coffee industry while also giving back to coffee-producing countries. Fifty percent of ticket sales will be donated to Project Waterfall to support clean water projects in coffee growing regions.
Starbucks has more than 250 stores in New York City including beloved favorites such as the company’s express format on Wall Street, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, and most recently, a location on the New York University campus. This new store, located at 10 Waverly Place, features small-lot Reserve coffees and is a reflection of Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room located in Seattle.
Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman and ceo, provided the foreword for this year’s 208-page New York Coffee Guide, which celebrates the unique coffee experiences in this community. In his introduction (below) Schultz shares about his experiences with coffee in the iconic city where he was born and raised.
I have always celebrated my New York City origins.
I was born in Brooklyn, in the housing projects of Canarsie. As a kid I played ball on concrete playgrounds, cheered for the Yankees and at 16 worked at a factory in Manhattan’s garment district.
The New York City I grew up in was not sophisticated – and neither was its coffee. Then, coffee was freeze-dried, dispensed from vending machines, or a tasteless staple at all-night diners. It was a drink consumed more for its caffeine than savored for its flavors. Habit, not ritual.
Ever since I left the city to attend college, I have returned often. Perhaps my most memorable visit was in 1994, when Starbucks first opened in New York City at 87th Street and Broadway on the Upper West Side. The morning the store opened a line of curious customers snaked around the block; not many people then had tasted espresso drinks. Coffee as craft was just emerging in America.
More than 20 years later, I still marvel at how this city, coffee, and coffee culture continue to transform. Where West Coast cities once led coffee innovation, the New York City of today has established its own artisanal voice. Aging techniques, flavor infusions, cold coffee combinations and handcrafting have turned neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs into vibrant coffee destinations.
On these streets, New Yorkers and visitors enjoy an eclectic yet accessible variety of coffee experiences. Taste profiles range from simple to complex, and beans are sourced from all over the world, many roasted locally, some right before your eyes.
Most exciting, New Yorkers are more engaged than ever in the beverage’s story from farm to cup. They know the origin of their favorite coffees and they know the names of their favorite baristas – in part because the baristas of today are expert, artist, host and friend. Whether working for an independent proprietor or a large purveyor, the men and women who bring coffee to life for their customers are the soul of the city they serve.
For me, New York City will always be a place that honors its past while embracing the present. Coffee’s story is no different – a beverage rich with history and always ripe for innovation. I am so proud to be part of coffee’s journey, especially as it continues to unfold it what truly is one of the greatest cities in the world.