As part of the strategy of enhancing its position as a city with unique coffee culture, the Festival will provide a large variety of programs and events to popularize coffee. Specifically, 100 coffee roasters and baristas will drip and blend coffee in their own ways, delivering 100 different flavors and tastes, and provide them to visitors for free. Tourists are invited to take part in the rally of visiting diverse coffee shops in the City where they open their own events of offering tasty and affordable coffee. Tourists also can enjoy bicycle tour along caf? and coffee shop streets and beautiful coastal roads. Over 200 fancy cafes and coffee shops across the City feature their respective flavors, tastes and atmosphere where coffee lovers can have coffees of their choice. At some coffee shops, visitors can experience how to roast and extract coffee by themselves using provided instruments.
Programs will also include several contests of baristas with awards. To select the best baristas and provide them with a chance of taking part in the World Super Barista Championship (WSBC), the Festival organizing committee will host a barista awards contest in partnership with Korea Coffee Association. Top 3 winners will be eligible for participation in the WSBC. The committee and Association will also hold a hand drip awards contest to honor baristas with best hand drip skills. Meanwhile, the committee will host a macaron award contest for tourists given that macaron is popular as a side menu for coffee. During the Festival, seminars will be held to make in-depth discussion on history and culture of coffee in the City. Around E-zen, the green city experiencing center of the City, outdoor cafes will be set up to provide healthy beverages including coffee and Korean teas along with local foods as part of efforts to promote health and healing.
As it successfully held the first Gangneung Coffee Festival in October 2009, the City has been holding the coffee festival annually, though it seemed to be somewhat strange as the City neither produces coffee nor has any particular relation with coffee. But, as coffee is a kind of tea, the City has centuries-old history of tea culture. Ancient tea utensils used by elite warriors of the Shilla Dynasty (57 BC~935 AD) were found at a historic site in the City, and many prominent scholars and literary persons enjoyed Korean teas in ancient days, originating a number of tea ceremonies, such as Tea Ceremony Dedicated to Saimdang, Tea Ceremony Dedicated to Heonan Seolheon, and Wild Tea Ceremony for Yulgok. Further, Pak I-chu, one of prominent first-generation baristas in Korea, who had operated a modern coffee house in downtown Seoul in the late 1980s moved to Gangneung in 2003 to open a coffee shop. He moved from the metropolitan city, Seoul, to a small city of Gangneung on the east coast because ‘he was lured by inclusiveness of the sea’. He made significant contribution to expediting maturity of unique coffee culture in the City. And coupled with wonderful natural environments, these historical backgrounds served as a rationale for holding the coffee festival in the region.
As cafes and coffee shops increased along the beach after coffee vending machines were installed, the coast gained popularity as a ‘coffee beach’. But these coffee vending machines were different from those in other regions. Each of these vending machines had their own ‘baristas’ who provided different tastes and flavors. With numerous coffee masters and deep interest of citizens in coffee, seven coffee academies are currently in operation in the City, producing hundreds of coffee baristas and experts. And the municipal government is striving to promote coffee as a cultural product, not a simple beverage. As part of such effort, the coffee library in the City is conducting activities of enhancing interest in coffee, such as event of experiencing coffee dripping and blending, lectures on coffee, and exhibition of coffee-related books and utensils including drippers and grinders.
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