Last month I attended GATHER, an epicurean and wellness festival set on Isola Delle Rose, a private island that is home to the JW Marriott in Venice. For the second year, illy coffee was one of the sponsors of GATHER, and they invited me to be a guest of this fabulous event.
Each morning of the four-day festival my, day was started by sipping on a perfectly crafted espresso at the illy Café in the main festival square. The illy Café was a hot-spot for festival attendees and the visiting chefs, which included Michelin-starred and James Beard Award-winning chefs. Attendees gathered in the lounge area, and conversations were started around a cup of espresso.
At the festival, guests could select intimate cooking classes with renowned chefs like Giada DiLaurentis, Norman Love, and Ciccio Sultano. Experiential dinners gave a chance for attendees to dress up and dine on excellent pasta, wine, and even Thai food. It was at these dinners where I met some fantastic people, with whom I still keep in touch. It feels good to be around people who share your passions.
During the day, there were other food and wellness driven activities such as bocce and bubbles. If you needed a break from the food, JW Marriott set up “Secret Spots” on the island where you could rest on a hammock and enjoy views of Venice. After resting in the Secret Spot, I participated in a sound bath at JW Mindfulness House.
During the festival, I attended the illy Master Barista Series, led by Giorgio Milos. Milos spoke about the different coffee varieties and compared coffee to wine. Just like wine, coffee has different taste and flavor profiles depending on the coffee variety and terroir. Milos also taught us how to brew the perfect pour-over at home during the master class.
When it comes to coffee, our horizons as a culture are finally expanding beyond the popular sugary drinks. A worldliness has taken hold, and it’s illy’s mission to educate the world about coffee culture. Based on this insight and illycaffè’s 80 years of experience in producing coffee, the company established the Università del Caffè in 1999. The UdC is a centre of excellence that promotes a culture of quality coffee all over the world through training, research and innovation.
If you can’t fly to Venice, you can sign up for classes at the University of Coffee at illy’s flagship San Francisco location at 220 Montgomery Street.
Make sure to follow illy on their social channels to keep up to date with more events like this as well as new illy Art Collection Cups, unique coffee recipes and more.