Sri Lanka Coffee Festival returns for exciting round three

Thursday, 13 June 2024 00:05 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Lanka Coffee Association (LCA), in partnership with Australia’s Market Development Facility (MDF) and Jetwing Hotels, successfully hosted the third annual Sri Lanka Coffee Festival on 6 June at Jetwing Lighthouse, Galle. 

The finals of the LCA Barista Championship were held alongside the festival activities. Sri Lanka’s first-ever study on the impact of climate change on Sri Lankan specialty coffee was also launched at the event. 

The coffee sector has seen significant growth over the past few years. The growth of the tourism sector has led to a vibrant café culture which has seen an increased demand for local specialty coffee. Industry stakeholders, recognising the opportunities in coffee, have increased investments in the sector. 

The festival was a landmark event celebrating Sri Lanka’s growing coffee culture for all attending coffee enthusiasts, industry experts, and stakeholders. Jetwing Hotels was the Platinum Sponsor and hospitality partner, while the Colombo Coffee Company, Soul Coffee, and Temple Grounds were Gold, Silver, and Bronze Sponsors. The Colombo Coffee Company was also the official machinery sponsor for the LCA Barista Championship.

The Australian High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Maldives H.E. Paul Stephens was the guest of honour at the festival and delivered the keynote address. He mentioned that: “The Australian Government has been a longstanding supporter of Sri Lanka’s coffee sector, through our MDF. Since 2017, when this program began, we have seen very positive results. Investing in the coffee sector is a part of Australia’s broader strategy of promoting inclusive economic growth and increased private sector investment, which helps Sri Lanka generate more foreign exchange. Today, we are proud to support the country’s only festival dedicated to celebrating local coffee, bringing together businesses, investors, and consumers.”

The festival featured various activities, including a panel discussion on ‘Chartering the Future of the Sri Lankan Coffee Industry’ with key stakeholders discussing emerging investment opportunities, café-related developments, government policy, and new opportunities to promote production. 

Festival participants also had the opportunity to experience a unique coffee tasting at a mini expo showcasing locally grown specialty coffee. This year, the coffee festival was hosted in Galle, strategically located in a key tourist hotspot, highlighting the synergy between the tourism and specialty coffee sector. 

Jetwing Hotels Managing Director Dmitri Cooray added: “We are thrilled to continue our partnership with the LCA and MDF for the second year on this project to revive coffee culture in Sri Lanka. There is tremendous potential in our country for exceptional coffee, from cultivating top-quality beans to mastering the art of roasting, all contributing to the creation of a truly world-class cup. I am confident we will be able to position our coffee globally while providing an opportunity for the young talent in Sri Lanka.” 

The festival also hosted the finals of the LCA Barista Championship (regional barista championships were hosted in the Dambulla, Galle, and Colombo regions throughout May). The champion was Suraj Nipunasiri from Butter Boutique, first runner-up Johann Paiva from Lost Planet and the second runner-up Sheno Milan from Seed Café.

The LCA emphasised the importance of industry coordination as the sector expands and grows. LCA Chairperson Kushan Samararatne mentioned that: “The LCA is committed to promoting and developing the coffee industry in Sri Lanka. Through advocacy, education, and community engagement, the Association works to enhance the quality and marketability of Sri Lankan coffee.” 

A key highlight was the unveiling of the ‘Climate Change and Coffee in Sri Lanka’ study, commissioned by the MDF. The first for Sri Lanka’s specialty coffee industry, the study identified key impacts of climate change and provided business recommendations for the industry and Government and emphasised the impact of climate change on future coffee cultivation in Sri Lanka under different future emissions scenarios. 

Speaking at the event, MDF Country Director Maryam Piracha commented: “The MDF has been a strong supporter of the Sri Lankan coffee industry and has worked with several key private and public sector partners over the years. We are pleased to see that our work in the sector is now bearing fruit, with increased business interest and investment. The coffee festival is an important aspect of the MDF’s support for the industry and it is a pleasure to be a key collaborator for the third year running.” 

The festival facilitated a platform for coffee farmers, roasters, baristas, and business leaders to foster collaboration and innovation.