Perk up at the Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival

Last year’s Coffee and Tea Festival drew 400 participants. The Berkeley Chamber of Commerce, which is organizing the 2012 event at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza, expects even more people this year. Photo: Ira Serkes

By Hannah Long

Sina Carroll is a committed tea enthusiast. She travels to China twice a year to source high-end tea from local farmers and sells a wide selection through her online store Red Circle Tea. Carroll has no employees and acts as the company’s owner, accountant, and buyer; her favorite part of the job, however, is teaching others about the craft of tea making.

“I love the process of steeping tea for others,” said Carroll. “I like to show people how easy, elegant, and fun it can be to make tea in this beautiful and traditional way. The look of wonder on their faces when they see this ritual is amazing.”

Carroll’s favorite place to share her enthusiasm and meet other tea connoisseurs is the Berkeley Chamber of Commerce’s Coffee and Tea Festival. The second annual festival, which will be held on Saturday, August 18th at Hotel Shattuck Plaza, will feature dozens of local coffee, tea, and dessert vendors. Along with Carroll’s Red Circle Tea, other offerings will include traditional lattes from Berkeley favorite Caffe Mediterraneum, and unique Vietnamese coffee from V Café. (See below on how to win free tickets to the Festival!)


Longtime Chamber of Commerce member Richard Hom is one of Berkeley’s most enthusiastic coffee and tea drinkers, and the festival was his idea. Hom was inspired by his love for Peet’s rich, strong coffee and a recent trip to China, during which he toured a traditional tea farm.

“When I think of coffee and tea, I think of Berkeley,” said Hom. “It seemed like the perfect fit. And as far as I’m aware, and I’ve done a lot of research, no one else does a coffee and tea festival geared completely to the consumer.”

Latte art. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Although Hom knew that his own enthusiasm for coffee and tea was probably matched by other Berkeley residents, last year’s festival was far more popular than even he imagined. Early that Saturday morning, 400 people showed up clamoring for coffee, tea, and treats. Many of the attendees were local small business owners and Chamber of Commerce members, but coffee and tea aficionados traveled all the way from Southern California and Sacramento for the event.

The festival’s schedule provides ample time for tasting, chatting, and learning. For four hours, vendors will be exhibiting products, supplying samples, and answering questions. During this time, two panel discussions will take place. Coffee 2.0, which will discuss the merits of specialty coffee, will be led by Kenneth Davids, author and founder of The Coffee Review. James Norwood Pratt, a highly regarded author and tea expert, will lead a discussion about proper tea brewing methods in Tea 2.0. The festival will conclude with a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

Carroll, who will be on the panel for Tea 2.0, says that the Coffee and Tea Festival allows her to share her own knowledge, connect with other vendors, and learn new things herself.


“For me, the best part of the tea and coffee experience is trying new things and discovering new types, and The Coffee and Tea Festival provides the perfect opportunity for this adventure,” she said.

The Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival will take place on August 18, 9am to 1:00pm, at the Hotel Shattuck Plaza. Tickets cost $25 and can be purchased online or at the door.

As a sponsor of the Coffee and Tea Festival, Berkeleyside has a few free tickets to give away to our members (ie, anyone who is supporting us with donations, whether one-off or regular). The first five Berkeleyside members to email wendy@berkeleyside.com will each receive a pair of tickets to the event, worth $50.

Participants to this year’s Festival include: Anfilo Coffee (Ethiopian coffee); Berkeley Coffee & Tea Company; Caffe Mediterraneum; Catahoula Coffee Company; Clarine’s Florentines; Five Mountains Coffee Company; Genuto; Madecasse Chocolates; Moschetti Roasters; Nothing Bundt Cakes; Red Circle Tea; Silk Road Teas; The Tea Room

Find out more about the Berkeley Coffee and Tea Festival here.


To find out about more events in Berkeley and nearby, visit Berkeleyside’s Events Calendar. We also encourage you to submit your own events.