LACONIA — The Main Street Initiative is anticipating that 34 vendors will be taking part in the first-ever New Hampshire Coffee Festival Saturday afternoon in Downtown Laconia.
''We're looking to make it a yearly event and draw people from all over the state,'' says Randy Bullerwell of All My Life Jewelers, a member of the sponsoring organization.
He said that the idea for the festival, which is sponsored by the Bank of New Hampshire, came from John Moriarty, president of the Main Street Initiative.
''John said that it looked like everyone was having a wine festival and that maybe we should try something different. He said that there were something like nine coffee roasters in the Lakes Region, three of them right in Laconia, and that it might be a good idea to have a festival to showcase their products,'' said Bullerwell.
Moriarty said that seven coffee roasters will be among the vendors, and that coffee in all its many guises, as well as "everything coffee," including popcorn, cup cakes, ice cream, gelato and even soap will be featured at the event, which runs right on Main Street from 1-5 p.m.
''There's going to be New Orleans cold-brewed coffee, cold lattes and hot espressos and all kinds of coffee treats, including truffles and fudge and three different kinds of coffee ice cream,'' says Moriarty.
He said that Harris Family Furniture will set up a tent with Coffee Niche kitchen furniture, which will be raffled off during the day.
Entertainment will feature the music of the Jonathan Lorentz Trio playing their own brand of what Moriarty called "coffee house jazz." The Grace Capital Church will stage the "Java Games," a series of coffee sack races, coffee bean bag tossing and coffee tic-tac-toe capped by a coloring contest. "There is something for all ages," Moriarty said.
D Squared Java of Exeter, will present an exhibition and host a competition of "latte arts," or carving decorations to embellish a cup of latte.
A symposium, headed by Claudia Barrett of CQ Coffee Roasters of Bedford, a licensed Q grader accredited by the Coffee Quality Institute who will explain the chemistry and alchemy of coffee while offering advice on how to brew the perfect pot.
A self proclaimed coffee and baseball geek, Barrett lives in Bedford, with her husband Jim, and, two children. A native New Englander, she rode out the coffee wave in the 1990s in Washington DC where she managed and helped launch a national coffee chain on the East Coast, as well as managed coffee quality and customer happiness for a local favorite coffee roastery. Her roasting apprenticeship was done at a small wholesale company called "The Daily Roast".
In April of 2013 she became a Licensed Q Grader. Licensed Q Graders are professional cuppers accredited by the Coffee Quality Institute. Q Graders must pass a rigorous three-day exam to earn their certification, comprising of 22 sections on coffee related subjects, such as green grading, roast identification, coffee cupping, sensory skills and sensory triangulation. There are currently only 2,500 Licensed Q Graders worldwide; roughly only 300 in the United States.
Claudia holds her degree in English from William Smith College. She believes her liberal arts education was the greatest gift toward her personal growth.
Moriarty said that "building community before commerce" is the mantra of the Main Street Initiative and a festival celebrating the most social and convivial of drinks provides an occasion for people to come together and share a common experience. At the same time, he said that the festival is part of the Main Street Initiative's fundraising campaign, which aims to enhance the holiday lighting downtown as well as provide a scholarship to a start-up business.