AARP Eye Center
Hundreds descended on the 10th Annual San Antonio Coffee Festival for their morning cup of joe. The festival, held at Travis Park on Saturday, February 11, may have been a bit chilly, but coffee roasters were busy keeping the crowds warm with their unique blends of locally roasted coffee beans from all around the world.
As sponsors of the festival workshops, AARP volunteers and staff were at the festival bright and early, thrilled to meet and greet festival-goers at the sold-out event as they stopped by their tent.
This AARP volunteer from Houston was excited to venture to San Antonio to visit with over 30 different coffee vendors and learn about their roasting techniques and what makes their coffee stand out from the rest.
With my commemorative San Antonio Coffee Festival coffee mug in hand and my “Specialty Coffee Tasting Flight” tickets to try up to eight free samples, I ventured into the festival, greeted by a life-size cup of coffee sitting in the middle of the festivities with steam coming out from the top every few minutes. I strolled along the path of various art and food vendors listening to live music from bands playing everything from soul, funk, R&B, ska, reggae, jazz, and blues to rock and Americana. But it was a rendition of “Do Whatcha Wanna,” by one of the bands- that put a little pep in my step.
The list of distinguished vendors included San Antonio coffee roasters and other Texas-based roasters from Houston, New Braunfels and Del Rio, and more serving delicious hot brews. There was even a delectable blend of Mexican Hot Chocolate "Con Café” for the hot chocolate lovers out there.
For many, coffee roasting is more than just a drink; it’s a culture. Café owner Katherine Gonzalez said, “I started the company because my family is from Guatemala, and it’s something that’s super important for me to share the Central American coffee from Guatemala.” Veteran coffee roaster Laurel Winslow shared this was their sixth year at the festival. “We’re kinda grandfathered in,” said Winslow with a welcoming smile as she greeted the long line of people waiting to sample their brews.
Bakeries were also on site with some sweet treats to go with that cafecito. Several food trucks and food booths lined the festival, so you could pick up a quick bite to eat. Talented artisans and specialty vendors wrapped around the festival, showcasing handmade goods, clothing, one-of-a-kind products, and unique gift ideas.
According to Faith Radle, whose company produced the festival, the original venue was the historic La Villita. “It was a place for local roasters to showcase their beans and let people sample and try out different types of coffees. “The event has just grown,” Radle said, “it's grown to a point where for the last four years we’ve been sold out." Due to construction at La Villita, the event was moved to Travis Park two years ago.
As the festival continues to grow, so does the number of roasters participating each year. This year AARP joined as a sponsor of the workshop tent where coffee enthusiasts could learn about topics such as “Coffee Culinary Creations,” “Health Benefits of Coffee,” and workshops on learning the ins and outs of the coffee industry and how to master latte art.
A portion of the proceeds go to support The Little Church of La Villita Food Pantry, according to the festival website.
This exclusive and signature San Antonio event is the city’s original celebration of everything coffee and is sure to keep brewing up some steamy good times for coffee connoisseurs of the world to enjoy!
Story by: Sonia Ramirez, AARP Texas Volunteer