COFFEE fans, there really is more to life than the latest Nespresso machine. At Singapore's first coffee-centric event - the Singapore Coffee Festival - you'll find out exactly what.
To show that good coffee is more than just beans, water and a fancy machine, the four-day event from June 9 to 12 will feature myriad activities including Lab Sessions to teach people valuable coffee-making skills, seminars on finance and photography, and even forums and chat sessions with journalists from The Straits Times, which will be hosting the event.
The specialty cafe movement first took off here in 2011, and the Third Wave has shown no signs of slowing down since. Says Goh Wee Wang, general manager (consumer) of show organiser Sphere Exhibits: "It's a movement that elevates the cultivation and appreciation of quality coffee beans and their extracts to an art form that is comparable to the care and attention paid to artisanal products such as wine. With the growing number of people who appreciate coffee, it made sense to hold the festival this year."
The concept was first mooted in 2015, and after lengthy discussions with industry players on the feasibility of such an event, it took about a year for Sphere Exhibits - the events and exhibition arm of Singapore Press Holdings - to organise it.
"One of the initial challenges we faced was convincing single-cafe owners with limited resources and manpower to join the event. Many Third Wave coffee practitioners are passionate about their craft, run small establishments that are off the beaten path, and may not have the time or resources to promote themselves," says Ms Goh.
The festival will see over 100 exhibitors including Common Man Coffee Roasters, Chye Seng Huat Hardware, Dapper Coffee as well as local kopi connoisseurs Killiney Kopitiam.
She says: "I can't function without my morning coffee, or should I say kopi. Singaporeans have developed a palate that's receptive to a wide range of flavours and cuisines, and they're just as comfortable eating in a hawker centre as in a restaurant. It wouldn't have been a complete festival without the inclusion of Singapore's rich and unique kopi heritage."
The inaugural festival is expected to play host to 15,000 visitors over the four days, the first of which is open only to media and trade visitors.
Fringe activities include local music acts which will be curated by festival creative consultant Daniel Boey, seminars on socially conscious living and other inspirational topics, and plenty of food to give even non-coffee drinkers something to do.
Ms Goh says: "We wanted the festival to be more than just a pretty space with good coffee and food. We wanted it to be educational and entertaining as well. So while there's a focus on the movers and shakers in the coffee industry, we also wanted to address the people who want to get involved. While there have been many cafes popping up recently, just as many have had to shut down their businesses so we included sessions to discuss the financial implications."
Along with industry seminars, visitors can also engage in conversations with journalists on topics ranging from property and politics to the art of taking a good Instagram picture. Ms Goh explains: "A lot of comfortable conversations are had over a cup of coffee, so we figured this festival would be a good opportunity for people to connect with their favourite journalists."
With all the information about coffee floating around the festival grounds, do be prepared for your own habits to change.
Ms Goh laughs: "It took me a while to figure out the different coffee types at the festival, and while I used to only drink my coffee with sugar, I've had to cut that out after seeing how much effort it takes to brew a cup of specialty coffee!"
- The Singapore Coffee Festival will be open to the public from June 10 to 12 at the F1 Pit Building. Tickets start at S$11 and are available from Sistic. For more information, visit sgcoffeefestival.com.sg