What a weekend it was! Moving to a bigger and bolder venue this year meant that across three days we could welcome almost 6,000 of you to come and experience Italy's uniquely pivotal place between tradition and evolution with all of the senses.
As well as representing a panoramic stretch of Italy, there was a rich mixture of languages and cultures to be found throughout; we met visitors from Poland, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Ukraine, Canada and more.
Naturally, coffee was the first port of call, and luckily Faema's iconic President was ready to greet early risers at the door with espressos to cheers both the past and future of Italy's coffee culture. Later on the Faema & La Cimbali Espresso Bar was also home to irresistable coffee pairings; a real highlight was a star appearance from maître chocolatier and pâtissier Gianluca Fusto who presented inventive and scrumptious sugar-free pastries.
More coffee awaited at the bustling Roaster's Village and True Artisan Café, where artisan cafés and specialty roasters from across Italy and Europe were to be found, such as Florence's La Sosta Specialty Coffee and Kiev's Fresh Black. Amongst the fruity Kenyans and dark chocolatey Columbian filters, there was a noteable presence of Christmassy notes, from the candy and plum of Ditta Artiginal's Myanmar Hopong Natural to the distinct cinnamon of Lot Zero's Costa Rica Ismael Navarro.
With Christmas just around the corner, there was an especially festive feel across the weekend – not least from La Marzocco's Winter Garden, where those who braved the cold were rewarded with roasted chestnuts, warming vin brulé and photo with santa. That was, of course, if Santa wasn't busy trying his hand at a cappuccino or ristretto against other baristas at Crush the Rush, a high-octane new highlight from La Marzocco.
Also new to MCF was Roast Masters™, the prestigious new specialty roasting competition which debuted at The Amsterdam Coffee Festival back in March, and was equally well received in Milan this weekend.
Twenty-two roasters impressed judges Anne Lunell, Chiara Bergonzi and Davide Roveto with a single origin roast, an espresso blend and a show-stopping pour over, but there could be only one winner: Paris' Belleville Brûlerie. Mihaela Lorda and David Nigel Flynn were distinct winners, with articulate and informative presentations, delicately balanced cups, sophisticated use of the Faema E71E, and an inventive espresso and calvados blend with a kick.
"With our performance we really wanted to give the judges and the audience the impression that they were visiting us in one of our boutiques", Belleville said after winning, "we wanted a sense of relaxed hospitality and I think that came through." As well as the coveted title, both Mihaela and David won a trip-to-origin in Peru next year, courtesy of Falcon Coffees, who also kindly provided the green beans.
With Latvia's Kalve Coffee and Italy's Peacocks Coffee Roasters taking silver and bronze respectively, the Roast Masters™ podium beautifully reflected the meeting of coffee cultures the festival is all about.
The sharing of perspectives and knowledge was also found in good supply over at The Lab, powered by Lavazza. Everyone from SCA trainers and baristas to journalists and academics gave their two cents on topics such as sustainability, social media and alternative brewing methods. Once again, the "Women in Coffee" panel discussion was a clear crowd favourite.
As well the dark, intense aromas of espresso, or the sweet, fruity notes coming from Gian Zaniol at the BRITA Brew Bar, there was latte art to be found left right and centre throughout Superstudio Più. Be it Latte Art Champs Manuela Fensore and Matteo Beluffi presenting their award-winning flair, Alpro ambassador Merjijn Gijsbers painting with plant-baseds, or aspiring young baristas taking to the limelight and mastering the Modbar, each corner of the festival was full of groups being wowed by creativity.
A massive thank you to all of you had came and helped make The Milan Coffee Festival's return a resounding success. We hope to see all of you again at the festival next year, which will take place from 21-23 November 2020 at Superstudio Più.
A final thank you also to all of our crew, exhibitors and partners, not least: Faema, La Marzocco, Brita, Alpro, Lavazza, La Cimbali, Modbar, Falcon Coffees, Eureka, La Sosta Specialty Coffee, Bravilor Bonamat, La Cucina Italiana and DM Italia.