AMOR and a latte more

Amy Lawhon/Staff Reporter
pouring coffee cmykFourteen vendors showcased their coffee or/and tea products at the Alabama Coffee Festival on Saturday, February 23.

Allison Brown
CityLifestyle Reporter

Fourteen coffee and tea vendors from across Alabama come together to provide sample tastings for coffee connoisseurs and newcomers alike during Coffee Fest, a fundraiser for the Alabama Multicultural Organization (AMOR). 

“Specialty coffee is a community experience,” said Brad Hanes, VP of operations for Baba Java coffee shop in Hoover. “All these guys here are competitors in some since, but we’re all kind of working toward the same goal, which is to bring great coffee to Birmingham.” 

Each coffee shop that attended Coffee Fest for free, according to Robert Hernandez, president of the Alabama Multicultural Organization (AMOR). The vendors provided samples and attendees were able to buy products from the store if they chose to. The festival was sold out, with 500 attendees in the morning session and another 500 attendees in the afternoon session. 

“There’s so many places here that I’ve never even heard of, so it’s just eye-opening,” said Shawna Lund, an attendee of the festival. “Like the chai latte someone had over there, it was Filter Coffee, I would have never known, but I absolutely loved it.” 

“Our shop is actually in an old jail house, with the cells still up,” said Preston Quillen, co-owner of Bigbee Coffee in Jackson, AL. “The Allman Brothers were held there, and they actually etched their names into the wall, so a lot of people like to come and see that.” 

Michael Pocus also attended last year’s Coffee Fest with Domestique Coffee, that he and his brother founded together. 

“We’re fairly new, we only opened in 2017, and we did the event last year and had a very good response,” Pocus said. “So, this year, it felt like another good opportunity to showcase to Alabama who we are, because we’re still trying to get our feet wet.” 

Domestique is dedicated to direct trade with their coffee providers, meaning that they know the farms that their beans come from and that enhances their quality, according to Pocus. 

“I love the coffee community in Birmingham, so it’s really fun to get to see everybody else come together so that the community can try everything all at once,” said Catherine Puckett, manager of the Revelator on 3rd ave s.  

Hyun Freeman is the AMOR treasurer, and said that Coffee Fest has been planned since about the end of last year’s coffee fest. This is the main fundraiser for the organization. 

“The rest of our events are all free, and this is what we use to make those events free,” Freeman said. “We get a lot of support from [the vendors], because we’re pretty much asking them, ‘Hey, we’re not going to pay you anything, you can sell your stuff, but we’re also asking you to give a lot of free samples.’” 

Coffee Fest is estimated to bring in about $16,000 for AMOR, according to Freeman. She said this money sustains them through all the events that they offer. However, Freeman said AMOR’s main goal is to build a multicultural center in Birmingham before the start of the World Games in 2021, so some of the proceeds from Coffee Fest will go towards that.

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