Late last night, I returned from my second epic dance adventure at Lindy Focus in Asheville, North Carolina. There’s lots I can say about the event, but in this post I wanted to share what I learned by setting up a free coffee stand at this swing jazz / lindy hop event.
By way of background, whenever I travel I stress about getting access to decent coffee. There really isn’t anything sadder in my book than this…
Good coffee really is more important than almost everything else, including food and hot showers. So I typically travel with a fairly elaborate coffee-making setup.
Since I was going to Lindy Focus anyway in December, and I knew that I was going to be brewing coffee for myself, and likely my roommates, I decided to just make a lot more coffee and give it away at the event. I wanted it to be my small contribution to the sharing culture of lindy hop.
Overall, I thought it was a huge success. The coffee went almost instantly, the process worked out almost flawlessly, and it didn’t take away much from my enjoyment of the event.
Things I learned when putting up a free coffee stand at Lindy Focus:
Free coffee is an easy sell when people are dancing literally to the break of dawn.
It takes a long ass time to brew enough coffee to fill a 2-liter carafe of coffee with just an Aeropress maker (see below).
If you put out large cups, people will fill them to the brim.
If you put out a tip jar, most people won’t tip, but a small number will tip a lot.
It feels good giving out free stuff to people!
- My set up: 1 electric water kettle, 2 Aeropress coffee makers, 1 electric coffee grinder, 4 24-oz bags of roasted coffee beans (mine were from Philz in SF), 1 2-liter carafe.
- You need to prep a lot of shots from an Aeropress to make a full carafe of coffee. I managed to cram 3 scoops of ground coffee into my Aeropress, which results in a very strong triple-shot shot. I found that it took four of those triple-shots (plus more hot water) to make a decently strong 3-liter carafe of coffee. I brewed using two Aeropress at a time, which made this go a little faster, but it still takes time.
- You can prep your Aeropress shots ahead of time and put them in the carafe. Then when you want a full pot, just fill that with more hot water.
- Put out smaller cups!
- It bummed me out a little to miss out on the first set of the late night band because I was running back to the room to brew the first batch of coffee. Pre-make that first batch of coffee so that doesn’t happen again.
- I didn’t really care about making a profit, but it would have been good to not lose too much money doing this. Next time I’m going to put out a “suggested donation” sign, and maybe staff up the booth a little so they have a face to put with the free joe they are getting.
- One evening, some nice person contributed cookies, which really helped the stand. That would be great to have regular additions to the coffee stand like that.