I had the pleasure of attending the first-ever event put on by Level Up, a new organization local to Whole Latte Love’s headquarters in Rochester, New York! This pour-over-focused networking event featured five different types of coffees from (mostly) local roasters, a few pour over tasting stations, and industry professionals and coffee enthusiasts. I’m someone who’s enjoyed coffee for years but never really delved into the culture of coffee, and this event was a great way to get a feeling for the local coffee community and get to talk to people in the Rochester community who have a passion for brewing great coffee.
What is Level Up?
Level Up is an organization that aims to connect and spread information with people who love coffee. It was founded by four local coffee professionals who believe that everyone should be able to learn more about the world of specialty coffee.
I sat down with one of the founders, John Cannon, and chatted about the goals of Level Up as well as the motivation behind creating the organization. The creation of Level Up was a pretty organic process – the four founders were already friends and were talking about some of the things they wanted to see in the local coffee community and realized their goals were aligned. The four creators have a combined four decades of experience in the coffee industry, and they wanted to share that knowledge of coffee with as many people as possible. They want to bring together everyone from coffee shop owners to baristas to help more people learn about coffee.
Eventually, Level Up wants to create an e-learning platform with both free and paid content. Right now they’re in the early stages of the process of creating their organization and are figuring out how to best share their knowledge and passion with both the local and online communities. Currently, the organization has the first episode of their Podcast out introducing themselves and their goals, so if you want to give that a listen you can check it out here.
I was able to chat with all of the founders over the course of the event, including Aaron Pascucci, Sapphire Courchaine, and Wade Reed as well as John Cannon, and I could tell that everyone has a huge amount of passion for coffee, the brewing process, and the goals of this organization. I’m excited to see how Level Up grows and evolves with time, and as someone new to the world of specialty coffee I can’t wait to see what I can learn from their future classes and events!
Level Up’s First Event
This event was the first one Level Up has hosted, and it was a really fun experience. They set it at the Space Roc pop-up event space and had two pour over stations where they brewed samples from the five different coffees, including Joe Bean’s Las Torres Natural, Bold & Gritty’s Ethiopia Sidama Keramo, Java’s Brazil Fazeuda Pulped Natural, Peaks Coffee’s Colombia Aponte Village, and Metric’s Ernesto Perez Orea. The goal of the event was to get a feel for the local coffee community as well as to get a chance to share these local coffees since all of them apart from Metric are roasters local to Western New York. Whole Latte Love helped out by supplying two Baratza grinders – the Vario W+ and the Vario+, as well as Brewista’s Ratio Scale and the Smart Scale II.
One of the fun parts of this event was getting to watch them dial in to bring out the delicate flavors of the different roasts. Something I didn’t know much about before joining the specialty coffee community is the way that you can play around with coarseness and ratios for pour over coffee to get subtle changes in the extraction of your coffee. It was fun to taste a few different brews of the same coffee as it was dialed in to see what it took to get the right settings for each coffee. I was personally a huge fan of the Bold and Gritty coffee, which has a fruity, citrusy taste reminiscent of grapefruit. I was also a fan of the Joe Bean Costa Rica Finca Las Torres Natural Process, which I’ve had before but enjoyed nonetheless trying out at this event.
This event was hosted at SPACE, a new pop-up commercial event space in downtown Rochester. SPACE calls itself an “Airbnb” for entrepreneurs and has areas for a few different types of pop-up-style events. The Space is also a permanent home to a few businesses, including Rebel Roots coffee and bar, which is stocked with a Profitec Pro 700 Espresso Machine and a Ceado E37S Grinder. Rebel Roots is open in the space from Wednesday through Sunday and offers cocktails and mocktails alongside artisan coffee. Their name isn’t just a fun alliteration either – Rebel Roots also offers classes and information about plant care, and the bar has a number of plants hanging from above to separate it from other parts of the space.
I really enjoyed going to this event, and I’m excited to see how Level Up will continue to grow in time. The warm and welcoming feeling created by the group showed their passion for coffee, and I can’t wait to see what other events Level Up will offer in the future!
All images, including the header and thumbnail image, were provided courtesy of @its_just_rogue_ and @rogue_social_media.