For people who frequent cafes, the inaugural Singapore Coffee Festival proved to be one massive cafe crawl.
Some were eager to begin their java journey: About 30 people were waiting at the F1 Pit Building at about 10am, one hour before the opening time.
Once they entered, they had access to more than 60 food and drink booths by cafes such as Symmetry, Oriole and Two Bakers, which created a lively cafe atmosphere by dressing up their booths with wooden crates and whimsical food and flower displays.
Coffee was a big draw but so was the food.
One of the hottest eats at the festival was the watermelon strawberry cake by Cream & Custard, a cafe in Bukit Ho Swee. It was sold out by 4pm yesterday.
The four-day event, which opened to the public yesterday, attracted more than 4,000 visitors. The festival is organised by Sphere Exhibits, a subsidiary of Singapore Press Holdings, presented by DBS Bank and hosted by The Straits Times.
More than 100 exhibitors, including coffee purveyors, roasters and cafes, are participating in the event.
Slots for workshops and seminars by Common Man Coffee Roasters, and panel sessions by Bettr Barista Coffee Academy and DBS, were fully snapped up.
Information technology analyst Jelmarven Toong, 31, who attended workshops on barista skills and latte art, said: "The festival is a one- stop shop to upgrade my coffee experience. Besides buying a wide selection of beans, the in-depth workshops are ground- up ways of learning to make a better cup of coffee."
One of the crowd-pullers was Good Coffee Tokyo, which brought in award-winning Japanese baristas and showcased beans from Japanese roasters such as Kochere beans from Ethiopia and honey-processed beans from Costa Rica.
Businessman Edward Ng, 26, said: "The light Japanese-style roasts bring out the natural flavours of the clean-tasting beans."
Lines also formed at the booth of coffee equipment shop Stellar M, which offered free latte samples. Joining the queue was undergraduate Alexis Liu, 19, who said: "I usually use a French press at home, so I am here to find out more about the other filter coffee methods and try making latte art."
Mr Leon Foo, 34, owner of home- grown coffee purveyor Chye Seng Huat Hardware, believes that the festival can grow the local speciality coffee scene.
He said: "Besides reaching out to more people who do not frequent cafes, the festival creates room for collaboration between different players in the industry."
Visitors also had fun lounging around on bean bags and sofas while tucking into food.
Ms Kerri Dunski, a 36-year-old tourist from Australia, said: "The fantastic food line-up gives a well-rounded experience, compared with the coffee festivals I have attended in Australia that focus on coffee. This has a lively street market vibe."
• The Singapore Coffee Festival is at the F1 Pit Building, 1 Republic Boulevard, until Sunday, from 11am to 9pm. Tickets, available at the door, cost $18 per person and $43 per person for VIP tickets, with discounts for DBS and POSB cardholders. Go to sgcoffeefestival.com.sg
VIDEO: Five things you shouldn't miss at the Singapore Coffee Festival http://str.sg/4UZf