What happened to Summer of DIS-Loyalty and the North Island Coffee Festival

What happened to Summer of DIS-Loyalty and the North Island Coffee Festival

There has been quite the radio silence on what happened to the North Island Coffee festival and the Summer of DIS-Loyalty. Both have come and gone with nothing actually happening or any explanation, truth is its been a journey of self discovery and taken a while to be able to understand it well enough to put it into words to explain it to others.

Or in short, I’ve been internalising a really complicated situation in my head.

To understand the situation, we need to go back to the beginning.

The Summer of DIS-Loyalty was started out of desire to celebrate Whanganui’s cafe culture.

What began with a network of mates and their mates was always intended to be a summer celebration involving everyone, but I needed to know the concept had merit. This was developed out of a love for our city and wanting to give people another reason to get out and enjoy it.

It was always intended that the S.O.D would lead to a festival once it had built a reputation and following to support it.

Enter Covid-19.

Covid threw everyone world into a tailspin of uncertainty, including mine.

They say opportunity knocks, thanks to lock down when it knocked I was home and answered the call. Having time on my hands when I wasn’t having dad time bonding with my boys, I spent most of my time working on “A Bunch of Snobs” and making sure I had a viable business and future, no matter what the future held. Taking any opportunity offered, I got a business mentor. Our first meeting in May revealed we seemingly had the perfect storm to put Whanganui and NZ on the map. Borders were closed, all coffee festivals were off and all eyes were on New Zealand squashing the curve.

Setting off on months of intensive late nights the framework for both the Summer of DIS-Loyalty cafe guide, cafe awards and North Island coffee festival was developed on my couch, venues booked, sponsors confirmed, graphics designed. It was set to go.

So what happened?

Covid Happened.

What I’ve learned is while people look okay and say they’re fine, people are struggling. Struggling financially, mentally and emotionally. So much uncertainty has left many questioning where to from here. Understandably this left people unsure about throwing caution to the wind and jumping into a dream that only I could see.

I shared and I still share such reservations, but I had the vision and the opportunity.

As a result of the vision I refused to half heartedly do these projects.

At heart I’m a coffee lover, I started The Village Snob because I love coffee, I started The Snobby Collective because I wanted to share the stories of the people who grow our coffee and because I genuinely believe if we can put faces and names to these products our moral compass will compel us to take ownership of the problem and demand ethically sourced goods and in turn help create better opportunities for everyone in the value chain. I wanted to introduce a wider audience to roasters who are in the coffee business because they share my passion for coffee and for coffee people.

This leads to why I was compelled to try to create the North Island Coffee Festival.

I wanted to create the best little coffee festival in the world and nothing less. To do this I canvassed some of the many contacts I’ve made in the industry in the past few years and got their thoughts on how we as an industry want to portray ourselves to the world, what the big guns overseas had done well and what we wished they hadn’t.

I called upon my friend Laura who started UYO, someone who has an unrivalled passion for eliminating single use waste from hospitality, to advise me on how I could rid this event of single use cups, together with her people we formulated a plan to create the first single use free festival in the Southern Hemisphere. Thing fell into place perfectly, most things, but not all things.

The first being Summer of DIS-Loyalty 2020/21. With the uncertain landscape created by Covid, the Summer of DIS-Loyalty didn’t meet the numbers I set, and the difficult call was made to not continue, for the sake of the brand and the potential to launch it again in the future.

This lead to a domino effect, cancelling the North Island Coffee Festival but for a different reason.

In my short few years in the coffee industry, I’ve made some very good friends, I’ve come to see that these people are in the industry for the same reason as I am, they love coffee and care about the most marginalised communities in the supply chain. They’re not big corporations selling their coffee in huge volumes to supermarkets, they’re little guys who are just trying to make a living, week to week. They’re pouring their heart and soul in to their craft.

The aim of the festival was to give coffee lovers a chance to interact, be introduced to all the things that make New Zealand's specialty coffee community one of the best in the world.

At heart, A Bunch of Snobs is a series of coffee businesses, not media and events company. With that at heart, I could not allow my friends and comrades to invest into something that didn’t have the hype and build up that I had planned. I could not be confident in providing return on investment for vendors, sponsors or the general public and that isn’t me or what my business is about.

It was a tough call to shelve so much investment of time, money and resources but integrity doesn’t have a dollar value and it cannot be bought once its lost.

This has ultimately had serious effects on my motivation and outlook. Its been refreshing to have honest conversations with people about motivation and mental health to realise that we are all feeling very similar feelings. Its taken these conversations and time to process what happened and put it into words, but although these projects may be off the table, know that when there is a Snob involved it will always be the best it can be, or it will not be at all.

To everyone out there, have the conversation, ask the question, what’s going on in your world?

Posted: Tuesday 2 March 2021