Many people cannot begin their day without a big cup of coffee.  Coffee is the perfect way for some people to kick off their day, get to work, be productive, socialize, etc.  We all have that coworker that says, “Do not speak to me until I’ve had my coffee”.  For people like this, the Coffee and Tea Festival exists.  This festival takes place in the 69th Regiment Armory, which is more than large enough to hold a bunch of caffeine lovers.  There was a VIP hour on March 22nd from 10AM to 11AM.  These very lucky guests  were also given a special gift bag, chock full of free coffees, teas, K-Cups, and many other goodies.  Everyone loves free things!

The first booth I saw was Teas’ Tea.  I had a sample of the Chai Tea Latte (that comes in a convenient bottle) and it was amazing.  Not only was a free bottle included in the gift bag, but I also bought two additional bottles.  This is great if you need a quick pick-me-up and you love the spice of chai tea.  There was a hot chocolate booth for those who dislike coffee and/or tea.  Hernan ran this booth and had a beautiful display of chocolate bars and Mexican serveware.  They served their hot chocolate both hot and cold.  Both were amazing and had more of a straight cocoa taste than typical hot chocolate.  The cold is also apparently very tasty paired with some liquor.  Salada was another booth that I enjoyed.  They specialize in white tea and decaffeinated green tea.  Both were very tasty, even though I usually prefer caffeine in everything I drink.  For those that needed a brief break from caffeinated beverages, the Elite Gourmet booth existed.  These folks specialize in all sorts of balsamic vinegars, including pear-flavored and vanilla fig-flavored.  All of their products were delicious.  Joe Coffee is a brand run by a brother and sister who specialize in Peruvian coffee.  This coffee went down smooth and did not leave a bitter aftertaste.

Another booth I enjoyed was Golden Era Coffee.  Gabriel, the founder, was on hand to give out samples of his deliciously brewed coffee.  They are also a local brand that is based in Queens.  Firsd Tea definitely had some of the best customer service around.  They were giving out samplings of their various teas in both hot and iced form.  I thoroughly enjoyed the iced tea they offered, it wasn’t sweet and had a refreshing taste that was much-needed after drinking so many hot beverages.  Jessy’s Patries were on hand with delicious empanadas.  These were full of chicken and extremely flaky but not greasy whatsoever.  Buunni Coffee was at the festival to introduce folks to Ethiopian coffee.  Not only was their display beautiful but their coffee was also very tasty.  Maison Camus was there but not to serve their famous cognacs, but to serve their just as famous coffee!  For a brand so well-known, they definitely brought the flavor with their offering of coffee.  Runa Clean Energy is a newer brand that offers bottled tea, as well as their own energy drink.  I tried the tea and was pleasantly surprised.  They make their drinks with Guayusa which actually contains twice the amount of antioxidants of green tea.

For a sweet treat, Anita’s was on hand.  They specialize in homemade gourmet biscotti.  They had samples of both chocolate and vanilla, both were delicious.  El Voyage paid a visit to the festival to showcase Guatemala coffee.  They, too, are locally-based in Brooklyn.  Salazon Chocolate provided me with one of the best chocolate bars I have ever tasted.  I tried the cayenne dark-chocolate bar and was blown away by the intense flavor it provided.  Tend Coffee hails from Long Island and provided free shipping vouchers to everyone who stopped by their booth.  Jailhouse Coffee was another favorite of mine.  They offered both a dark and light roast.  I preferred the dark but the light was also very good.  Also, their logo is amazing.  Owl’s Brew had one of the best ideas I have ever seen.  They created a tea crafted for cocktails.  I tried the bourbon with their pink & black, which is black tea with strawberries, hibiscus, and lemon peel.  It was amazing!  This is definitely something that will sneak up on you since it wipes out the taste of the liquor.  Of course, Cabot was on hand to offer yummy cheese samples.  Cabot is on my all-time favorite brands of cheese so it’s always nice to see them at a festival.  Moon River Bakery had their booth sellings S’mores bars and rainbow cookie cupcakes.  The cupcakes were beautiful.  They also have a pop-up shop at Tanger Deer Park until May 31st so go check them out.

Hahn’s Old Fashioned Cake Company had a booth setup full of crumb goodness.  Everyone loves crumb cake and it is something that goes extremely well with coffee.  They had samples of just their crumbs and I was blown away by how good they were.  Alchemy Creamery was a brand that I had been meaning to try out.  They specialize in dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan ice cream  Don’t let the lack of dairy make you back away, their ice cream is legit!  I tried the green tea coconut and was pleasantly surprised at how tasty and creamy it was.  Nektar was another fun booth to visit.  The founder specializes in honey without the stickiness.  They had samples of their powdered honey mixed with almonds and it was absolutely delicious.  The honey is also heat resistant so you can bake with it!  Chilly’s Soap & Gift Shop was in attendance selling handcrafted soaps.  These are not just ordinary soaps, though.  Every soap has a theme.  I bought the beach-theme soap that smells like the beach on a warm summer day.  They also have cute little figures inside the soap, such as cats, golf balls, palm trees, etc.  Another brand I was excited to see was Entenmann’s, who are introducing a line of K-Cups.  Bromley Tea is a company that has been around for a bit of time and were on hand to offer two types of their teas.  Their booth was holding a “taste test” and tallying which of their brews received more votes.

This was a fantastic event.  So many booths full of so many delicious-tasting things.  I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent here.  Not only did I get try to many new brands but I also indulged in brands I was already aware of.  The one piece of advice I can give if you plan on attending next year is get there early for the gift bag.  I came home, dumped the bag on my table, and was surprised by how many free things I received.  All you caffeine lovers out there, you’re missing out if you skip this event.

-Kristy Rody (