With neatly folded handkerchiefs as dust masks and water canteens hanging from belt loops, festival goers roamed from stage to stage, enduring harsh conditions for the opportunity to escape their daily lives and join a very special community. Situated in the midst of an all but dried-up San Antonio lake bed in Monterey, California, Lightning in a Bottle music festival provides a unique and enriching experience that goes far beyond expectations. With a multitude of stages and headliners like Grimes, The Big Gigantic, and The Pimps of Joytime, the festival entertained guests with live performances late into the night with a live jazz jam carrying on until sunrise the following morning. But what really sets Lightning in a Bottle (LIB) apart, is the inclusion of yoga and meditation seminars, a village experience with all sorts of live performances and discussions, permaculture talks, essential oil classes, and an amazing sense of community. Not to mention, Swell Coffee brewed at every drink station on site!
Lightning in a Bottle does an amazing job with limiting and sorting waste, receiving notoriety as the “greenest” music festival. Campers sorted between recyclables, compostables, and landfill waste, leaving nothing behind when the weekend came to an end. We did our best to minimize waste as well. All of our samples at the festival were prepared in french presses (with no paper-filters) and served in reusable mugs.
This year’s coffee selection was grown in Villa Rica, Peru. The coffee hails from a cooperative named “Cunavir” and offers a delicate, balanced palate of caramel, cocoa powder, and an exceptionally smooth finish; a very versatile coffee that resulted in a fabulous cold brew!
I was lucky enough to attend the festival and represent Swell Coffee Co., serving as a brand ambassador and leading talks at both The Learning Kitchen and The Village experience. I was shocked by the sheer amount of love and embrace towards coffee! The attendees asked some amazing and relevant questions about home-brewing and coffee extraction. It was such a pleasure to share my love and passion for coffee in front of such a fabulous crowd. We owe so much to the cultivation and processing that happens at the farm level, and it felt amazing to lead discussions on sustainability and raise awareness about things that many never consider.
At The Learning Kitchen, I featured two of my favorite coffees currently on offer at Swell; A Burundi and an Ethiopian. The Burundi comes from Heza washing station in the Kayanza Province, which won 8th place in the most recent Cup Of Excellence. It offers some amazing flavor notes, with a fantastic complexity. There is an undeniable earthiness, nearing spice, that rounds out very nicely with a velvety body and some citric acidity. I am reminded of grapefruit with every sip. The Ethiopian coffee, “Rophi”, is from Sidamo and is very fruit forward in flavor. Much of this is due to the style of processing in which the coffee seeds are dried while still in the cherry. Most fall in love with the not-so-subtle notes of strawberry and peach. It is a prime example of beautifully balanced acidity that finishes clean on the palate.
Until next year Lightning in a Bottle! Thanks for having us. Coffee Love!
Originally written in April 2016.