Elevating Dreams Erasing Divides: A Coffee Pitch Event Comes To Chicago


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This article is part of Fresh Cup’s ongoing coverage of the 2024 Specialty Coffee Expo, coming to Chicago April 12-14. We’ll continue to bring you stories, updates, and insights before, during, and after the event. See all coverage here.

On April 12th, 2024, Melissa Villanueva of Brewpoint Coffee and Michelle Johnson of Ghost Town Oats will host a unique pitching competition for the coffee industry called Elevating Dreams Erasing Divides.

The event will occur immediately following day one of the Specialty Coffee Association’s annual expo. Attendees will get to watch coffee industry entrepreneurs pitch their businesses and products to a panel of judges, network with fellow professionals, and enjoy drinks and food from local vendors.

Entrepreneurs and innovators participating in the pitch competition will get a chance to present their ideas to industry experts and gain visibility for their burgeoning business plans. The first-place winner of the pitch competition will take home a prize of $1,500, and the runner-up will receive $500. 

Pitch competition participants have already been selected and will include representatives from all sectors of the coffee industry—basically, “anyone who is looking to build a business in or connected to our wider industry,” said Villanueva, who will be one of the judges. 

  • When: April 12th, 2024 — doors open at 5:30 p.m., and the event kicks off at 6:15
  • Where: The Hatchery, 135 N Kedzie Avenue
  • Tickets: Free to attend, register here

Why It Matters: The coffee industry is changing every day, and we’re constantly presented with challenges that put pressure on our industry to innovate, streamline, and become more competitive. Pitch competitions allow people with big goals to present their ideas, get crucial feedback or affirmation, and enjoy a moment in the spotlight. But the event is more than a competition; it’s a celebration of original ideas and experimental minds committed to advancing the specialty coffee industry, offering them a platform to positively shine and impact the future of coffee.

“The coffee world is changing fast. Just having a small business isn’t enough anymore. We have to evolve, expand, and find new ways to make it work. That’s why we’re focusing on showcasing the latest companies, products, and tech designed specifically for coffee businesses, 

Villaneuva said. “We’re offering a unique chance for entrepreneurs to see how these innovations can help them thrive.”

Villaneuva is thrilled by the slate of coffee pros scheduled to present at the event. “If you’re an innovator or entrepreneur, pitching at this event puts your product or service in front of a massive audience of coffee professionals,” said Villaneuva. “It’s a golden opportunity to show how your brand fills a niche in the market, potentially benefiting the entire industry.” And even if you didn’t make the deadline to pitch, attendees will still hear fresh ideas and mingle with the next generation of coffee thinkers. 

The Full Extraction: Whether or not you’re pitching, Elevating Dreams Erasing Divides promises a chance to network and learn from entrepreneurs across the coffee industry. And just because people are talking business doesn’t mean the event won’t be fun: Along with music from DJ El Grandote, attendees can enjoy drinks from Hi & Mighty Distillery and Skeptic Distillery and food from Savory Crust.  

The doors open at 5:30, and the event kicks off at 6:15. Tickets are free, but space is limited: register here

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Garrett Oden

Garrett Oden is the owner of Fresh Cup, a coffee industry publication for professionals, and Alimentous Studio, a content and copywriting agency for coffee, F&B, and food tech businesses.

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