10 Minutes With David Heilbrunn

If there's one thing David Heilbrunn of Coffee Fest loves as much as coffee people, it's fishing people!

David Heilbrunn
President & CEO: Lifestyle Events, Inc.
President: Coffee Fest Trade Shows
Issaquah, Washington

What other coffee jobs have you had?

No other coffee jobs. Twenty-two years producing Coffee Fest has proven quite the education. Previously I rose through the ranks in retail with Tandy Corporation and Radio Shack. It’s this experience that explains how Coffee Fest’s original focus and remaining to this day is the coffee retail distribution chain.

David Heilbrunn is the president of Coffee Fest, which is widely regarded as the best trade show and conference for independent cafe owners.

David Heilbrunn is the president of Coffee Fest, which is widely regarded as the best trade show and conference for independent cafe owners.

What’s your favorite part about working in coffee?

Without  a doubt it is the people that make up this industry. Lifelong friendships have been forged and the circle just keeps growing larger. My business associates become my friends. We get to see each other in most cases three or four times every year. We believe as a result we receive more hugs per capita than any other trade show in any industry. Helping people is my passion, and it has always served the industry and our business well.

Dabid in his element: at Coffee Fest, awarding Blue Star Coffee Roasters with the first America's Best Espresso prize.

Dabid in his element: at Coffee Fest, awarding Blue Star Coffee Roasters with the first America’s Best Espresso prize.

Where do you ideally see yourself in 10 years?

I see Coffee Fest continuing to fuel our industry and support our constituency. Exactly 10 years from now we will be producing our 100th Coffee Fest show.

David's favorite coworker: Molly.

David’s favorite coworker: Molly.

Who and what inspires you?

Super pro sales people inspire me. There is no college that sales people can go to to get a master’s degree. Yet every company in America either builds something and sells it or buys something and sells it for more. Every company in America employs or should potentially employ one or more sales people. The highest paid hard work in America is sales (as is the lowest paid easy work is, too). No more than 5% of all the sales people in all our land are super pros. Professionals that have taken it upon themselves to do what it takes to learn the art and master the science of the profession. Yes, definitely on every rare occurrence when I meet a super pro sales person, I am inspired.

David at one of the epic Fishing Fests.

David at one of the epic Fishing Fests.

What are you drinking right now?

Klatch Coffee.

David and his wife, Marni, a beloved fixture of Coffee Fest events.

David and his wife, Marni, a beloved fixture of Coffee Fest events.

Crazy coffee experience you’d like to share?

The craziest experiences that come to mind nearly all include the late, great Ward Barbee, founder of Fresh Cup Magazine. While Ward and Coffee Fest’s relationship was quite contentious in the early years, we were eventually brought to a peace accord by the most unexpected of arbitrators.  Jon Whiteside on his own accord stepped up and stepped in to set us straight and forge the truce that resulted in a cherished friendship with Ward that I miss to this day. (The Jon Whiteside intervention in itself is a pretty crazy coffee experience and Jon, I am forever grateful.)  The stories I could share about Ward and getting lost daily at Fishing Fest 1, Ward climbing the Great Wall, getting rescued with Ward by the police department out of the Deschutes River, and on and on and on. Every time out with Ward was a crazy coffee experience. Coming in close second are many a Coffee Fest Opening Night Reception—they’re legendary.

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.