Nate and I just returned from a whirlwind four-day trip to New York City for Coffeefest, the coffee industry’s big trade show and competition venue. It’s a place where seasoned veterans of the coffee biz impart wisdom to new owners, managers and baristas, and where the “hot new products” are on display. It was an amazing and exhausting trip, one that’s given us plenty of inspiration for coffee and hospitality in Bowling Green — and a renewed appreciation for some of the wonderful things we take for granted about our little midsized town. Some highlights: 

While temperatures in BG were spring-like, we awoke Friday morning to inches of snow and blistering winds. 

Nate tidies up after his pour in the World Latte Art Open. Only 64 competitors were accepted; Nate had the bad luck to draw Asaf Rauch of Israel in the first round. 

Nate’s pour is on the right — while solid, it couldn’t match the symmetry, difficulty and rock-solid execution of Asaf’s ultra-difficult 10-layer tulip. (Asaf would go on to the final 8).

Nate and I were honored to act as “Customer Judges” for the America’s Best Coffeehouse competition. Cafés from around the country sent teams of three to show off their service, hospitality and coffee-making skills under pressure of constant critique. Peregrine Espresso of Washington, D.C. took home the title — and we started plotting our own entry into this competition!

No trip to New York City is complete without some sight-seeing… behind me is the New York Times building, along with a coffee chain made famous in the hit TV show “Felicity”.

Talk about “bold coffee”: This was the most interesting drink we tasted all weekend, as part of the Best Coffeehouse competition — an iced latte made with gritz, brown sugar, vanilla bean, salt and pepper, garnished with a pork rind on the side and served in a Mason jar. 

And here’s one of the best “special drinks” we had all weekend — an iced coffee beverage made with cold-brewed coffee, Thai iced tea and condensed milk, with a spring of fresh rosemary to add aromatics. Expect to see us introduce a variation on this creation (by Nolita Mart in New York City) this summer!

All in all it was a wonderful trip — great to interact with the global coffee community, and a breeding ground of new ideas for improving what we already do here at Spencer’s.