A 'buzz'-worthy event: Grind City Coffee Xpo celebrates Memphis coffee culture

Jennifer Chandler
Memphis Commercial Appeal
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Nov. 1, 2021- Grind City Coffee Xpo founders Daniel Lynn and Rachel Williams.

Grind. Sip. Repeat. It’s a mantra that coffee aficionados know well.

It’s also the hashtag for the second annual Grind City Coffee Xpo that’s happening Saturday at Wiseacre Brewing Co. in Downtown Memphis.

Whether you are a coffee expert or someone who just loves a good cup of joe, this event offers something for every type of coffee lover.

It’s an event that has been in the works for almost two years. The second annual event was originally scheduled for March 2020, the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The first Grind City Coffee Xpo was held in 2019 at the former Memphis College of Art.

Charles Billings of Dr. Bean's Coffee & Tea Emporium speaks to attendees of the 2019 Grind City Coffee Xpo.

Grind City Coffee Xpo is focused on celebrating the exploding Memphis coffee culture. From roasters to shops, the expo is meant to show Memphians all the great coffee options available by bringing the very best of the region’s coffee community together under one roof.

During the day-long expo, attendees can sample various brewing and roasting methods, as well as attend demos and discussions on the art of brewing the perfect cup of joe.

From pour-overs to coffee sodas to roasting techniques, this event will highlight all the buzzworthy (no pun intended) new trends in the coffee industry.

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The origin of Grind City Coffee Xpo

The event is the brainchild of Daniel Lynn and Rachel Williams, neither of whom is in the coffee business. The idea for the expo was fueled by their love of the beverage and seeing how similar coffee events have promoted the industry.

Unlike industry-focused coffee events like Coffee Champs in Nashville, Grind City Coffee Xpo is an event for the coffee drinker.

“Our event is based on education,” Williams said. “We want it to be fun for the community, not a competition.”

The Belltower Artisans designed a keepsake mug for the 2019 Grind City Coffee Xpo.

Williams added they felt that Wiseacre HQ was the perfect place to host this year’s event.

“Our first expo was at Memphis College of Art. We wanted to find a place that is different and felt very Memphis, like MCA,” she said. “Plus, did you know that Wiseacre is one of the most caffeinated brewers in the world?”

Grind City Coffee Xpo will take place in the working brewery. “We will be back where the fermenting tanks are, as well as in the tap room,” Lynn said. “It will give people a rare behind-the-scenes look at the brewery.”

Coffee roasters and shops

More than 10 coffee vendors will be featured at this year’s event. Vendors will sample their product and discuss different brewing processes.

Memphis participants include coffee roasters and shops such as Boycott Coffee, Comeback Coffee, Dr. Bean’s Coffee & Tea Emporium, French Truck Coffee, J. Brooks Coffee Roasters, Ugly Mug Coffee and Vice & Virtue.

“This year we decided to add coffee vendors from around the region,” said Lynn, citing participants like Frothy Monkey and Honest Coffee Roasters in Nashville. “We even have a coffee farmer — Lina Premium Coffee — coming from Colombia.”

Wiseacre’s tap room and snack bar will also be open, allowing attendees to enjoy one of their craft beers. We suggest sticking with the theme of the event and trying one of its coffee-based brews like Gotta Get Up To Get Down Coffee Milk Stout.

Belltower Coffeehouse & Studio artists will not only be creating a signature keepsake mug for the event, but they also will be doing pottery demonstrations.

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Coffee talks

In addition to offering samples, each vendor will educate attendees on a wide variety of coffee topics.

Dr. Bean’s Coffee & Tea Emporium will demonstrate Chemex pour-overs from four different roasts.

Boycott Coffee is taking a look at Memphis coffee over time. “They will be talking about the history and future of coffee in Memphis,” Williams said. “Where it was and where it will be.”

Vice & Virtue is bringing a small roaster to the event for guests to roast their own batch of coffee.

The event is a labor of love for Lynn and Williams. “One hundred percent of the proceeds benefit Protect Our Aquifer because you can’t have great coffee without great water,” Lynn said.

Grind City Coffee Xpo 2019 was held at The Memphis College of Art. The 2021 event will be on Nov. 6 at  Wiseacre HQ in downtown Memphis.

Jennifer Chandler is the Food & Dining reporter at The Commercial Appeal. She can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @cookwjennifer.

Grind City Coffee Xpo

When: 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Nov. 6

Where: Wiseacre Brewing Co., 398 S. B.B. King Blvd.

Tickets: Prices based on entry time: $35 for 10 a.m.; $25 for 11:30 a.m.; $20 for 12:30 p.m. Advance ticket purchase recommended.

Online:grindcitycoffee.com

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