Written by Eli Ramirez
It might be a little odd reading about a Texas-based coffee event on a Chicago-based company’s website but, it will all make sense with some backstory. My name is Eli, I currently work for Halfwit Coffee Roasters as the Director of Wholesale but I got my start in coffee when I lived in Texas. I lived down there for 4 years while going to college and as soon as I got there, I found my way into the coffee scene. At the end of my career in Texas, after competing in the U.S. National AeroPress Competition, I got together with some coworkers to hold our own grassroots AeroPress event. To keep it brief, the event was a massive success. It was very clear that the Dallas-Fort Worth community, while growing, was in desperate need for an event other than a latte art throwdown. After just over 200 people showed up and the 4 hour competition was over, we crowned an amazing champion and knew that we had created something special.
The intent of this article is to explain how we (me and one other person) turned a local coffee brewing competition into an actual World AeroPress Championship sanctioned event and how you can do it, too! I will go step by step through the process of planning, organizing, and executing a successful and inclusive AeroPress event.
Form your team! This most likely has already happened if you’ve even decided to host an event but your team is one of the most important factors that contribute to your overall success. Make sure every person has a very specific job and areas that they are in charge of for the entire planning process. For example: I was in charge of sending all of the sponsorship related emails while Ben (my partner in crime) was in charge of everything dealing with the venue and the provided libations. This gave us a very clear path on who does what so each task was handled as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Plan your vision and plan your ‘why’.
Plan your vision and plan your ‘why’. After decided the logistics of running an event, it is incredibly important to think about how your ideal event would go down. I’d recommend, at all time, aiming to run a safe and inclusive event that is inviting to all types of people. If you are ever curious, head over to Acaia’s website and download their Code of Conduct. We chose to adopt this form and run our event under its guidelines. Our vision was to make it known that we had a zero tolerance policy when it came to harassment or discrimination of any kind. We made this point clear in our emails and when we finally decided to announce the event. After this, think about why you are holding this event. What sparked it in the first place? What does your coffee community need? Why do you think they need your event? Are you helping or hurting your community? Our ‘why’ mostly revolved around the love that Ben and I share for the DFW coffee scene. We wanted to make sure one of our own had the opportunity to represent the community on the national stage in September and be proud that they were doing it.
Venue, date, and time. This is when you really need to sit down with a calendar and plan when and where the event going to happen. How many people are you expecting to attend? Will the event space be big enough for everyone? Will all of your attendees get to fully see the brewing area? These are just some things to consider when picking a venue. We chose to hold our event on a Friday night, not Saturday, to not interfere with anyone’s religious obligations on Sunday. We also held the event at a brand new cafe: Communion Neighborhood Cafe. We wanted them to get the right exposure before they opened for real to help them build hype around their own cafe concept. We were able to help out some amazing Texas coffee people while also having an amazing and beautiful venue for our event. Once you have a place, pick your date and time!
Sponsorship. This can be tricky. People get nervous about asking other people for free things but just remember that coffee and coffee equipment companies get these requests all the time. It is your job to be honest and open about your event. Introduce yourself, explain what your event is, explain why you’re running this event, explain your ethos of inclusivity and how you plan to properly hold a truly welcoming event. You need to give a company a reason why they should spend their time and money on your event other than the mere fact that you are having an event. As a wholesale director, I deal with these kinds of requests quite often. Anyone can say “Hi I do this and we have an event can I have free coffee?” but I then have no incentive to help other than knowing you’ve planned an event. Always include your reason why you think your event is helping your community and especially why you’d benefit from the help of the company you are contacting.
It is your job to be honest and open about your event.
Hire a graphic designer. Incase you were wondering, Ben and I have zero design experience and we had to come to terms that if we made a poster, it most likely would’ve been awful. There is a huge upside to holding these events that most people don’t realize- you get to support your friends! We were lucky enough to get to know an amazing, local graphic designer over the past few years and when we approached her with this idea, she was all-in right away. We basically just gave her all of the auxiliary information (date, time, place, name of event, and yes there will be beer) and let her do the rest. We gave her 100% complete creative freedom from start to finish. All we did was tell her when we needed it by (we gave her 2 months to finish it) and talked about price. This is our list of what we needed: multiple files (sizes and types) of the poster, a modified poster for a Snapchat filter, a file to upload to instagram, and a file to give to the t-shirt printing company. Since she was a friend, she named her price and we said yes. One quick note on this process: Ben and I both agreed that is was absolutely necessary to give Kris our complete trust with this project because we believe that people function at their best when they can be as creative as they want and truly take something into their own hands.
After you’ve done all of this, you are about half way there! Your team has been assembled, your vision is becoming reality, you have an awesome venue, you’ve sent out at least 50 sponsorship emails, and your design is underway. This is the point where Ben and I could take a breath, only so our nerves could then creep back in and we could question everything. I vividly remember thinking to myself that no one was going to come and no one was going to sponsor us, making our event a complete flop. Just remember, if you are true to your vision and just want to give as much as possible to your community, the community will give back.
Stay tuned for second half of list coming soon!