Coffee and tea festival to take root in Berkeley

Berkeley coffee and tea enthusiasts will have the opportunity to celebrate their love for caffeine at the city’s first annual Coffee and Tea Festival this weekend.

At the event — scheduled for Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza and hosted by the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce — more than 20 local coffee and tea vendors will showcase their products and services, providing free tasting and information about the differences in coffee beans and answering the hotly-debated question: loose leaf tea or tea bags?

“There is a huge community of coffee and tea enthusiasts,” said Shiloh Alexis Elias, communications and event director at the Chamber of Commerce.  “We thought it would be a great opportunity to bring people together.”

For those who need a little treat with their drink, more than 10 local dessert vendors will join the festival activities, offering pastries and other edible goodies to complement the coffee and tea.

The event is predicted to bring 300 to 350 people, Elias said, and tickets have been sold to individuals from as far away as Los Angeles.

Featured activities include two workshops — called Coffee 101 and Tea 101 — a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony as well as information on Fair Trade coffee.  The workshops will be a discussion-based question-and-answer forum, addressing issues like the best methods of brewing coffee, and the perfect measurements to creating an impeccable cup of tea.

The Coffee 101 panel discussion will be moderated by coffee expert and author Kenneth Davids, and joined by Shirin Moayyad from Peet’s Coffee and Tea, John Di Ruocco from Mr. Espresso, Craig Becker from Caffe Mediterraneum, Phil Jaber from Philz Coffee and Vincent Virzi from Berkeley Coffee and Tea.

Tickets for the event are $20. Tickets can be bought online at berkeleycoffeeteafest.com, by calling the Chamber of Commerce or at the door.