S.Lucey's take on our 2010 Anaheim Expo

2010 SCAA Expo Wrap - Anaheim edition

Here we are more than one month after our 2010 SCAA Expo in Anaheim. It's always a wonderful thing, this annual event. In a way, it's our industries' "new year." So much build up, so much preparation, so much excitement, and when it's all over with, we wait one more year to do it all again.

In this post, I've asked some of our industry leaders do shed some light on their own thoughts regarding things they did as a part of this year's expo. Before I go on however, I want to point you quickly to the official SCAA wrap up which can give you a run down of facts, videos, photos, audio sample, and a listing of this year's winners.

Total number of attendees: 8,025
Total number of 2010 Lab and Certification Course attendees: 1,440

With my task of writing some form of a recap I knew immediately I wouldn't be able to provide the scope I would want to have when addressing the mass of our guild members. I spent the majority of my time focusing on the United States Barista Competition. To get a better gripe, I called on some industry friends to chat briefly on things they were involved in. Ellie Hudson-Matuszak will touch on educational and training related elements, Ben Helfen will go over the amazing job he did with our Barista Guild cafe, Ben Kaminsky will tell us about his experience competing and winning the US Cup Tasters Championship, and Alejandro Cadena will talk about his success and involvement in the Coffee of the Year Competition.

Ellie Hudson-Matuszak on SCAA labs & lectures

"I am so glad you asked about this! It is a great idea for a newsletter topic and a great angle to explore."

The lab/Skill-building* attendance was 1,440 students across all 4 subject areas, including 240 people who participated in espresso workshops (not counting the tests). About 30 people attempted the Level 1 test.

*we are phasing out the term “labs” to describe any SCAA education. Starting with Houston 2011 Expo, any fee-based class regardless of whether it is hands-on or lecture based or a test, will be referred to as “Skill-Building.”

We delivered 41 lectures in several topics across our 6 SCAA Subject areas (Coffee Preparation, Coffee Roasting & Processing, Coffee Grading & Evaluation, The Coffee Business, Sustainability, and Global Issues in Coffee). Overall we offered over 70 hours of education in our lectures program. We don’t collect registration for lectures, as attendees are free to attend any lectures with a trade show badge for that day.

Most lectures attract about 20-30 industry professionals as an audience, although some, including “Developing a Training Program to Produce Exceptional Baristas“ by BGA Member Anna Gutierrez, were wall-to-wall, standing-room-only events. Along with Anna’s lecture, two of the other most popular lectures were “Seed to Roaster” (Andrew Miller) and “Meet the Green Buyers” which was a panel discussion with 7 of the industry’s leading green buyers answering questions from rotating groups (sometimes this was referred to as “speed-dating-style”).

The Professional Development committee has already started building the lectures and Skill-building programs for 2011 Houston Expo, and will be sending a call for presenters for lectures this summer for any member interested in submitting a presentation proposal.

Ben Kaminsky on his win in the US Cup Tasters Championship

sL: What does the US Cup Tasters Championship mean to you?

bK: "Honestly, I think at this point in time, when there are no formal degrees and very few certificates in coffee or coffee tasting, all these championships are just another way of helping to legitimize us as coffee professionals. Does doing well in the Cup Tasting Championship mean you're ready to be a full-time coffee buyer? Not necessarily. But does it help your career and give you recognition for your time, dedication, and hard work, while giving you opportunities that you may not have had otherwise? I would say absolutely. Ultimately, it's a game that is quite a lot of fun to participate in...Just bring yourself and a spoon."

sL: Where do you see our industry going?

bK: "I think we're all reassessing our skills, techniques and methodologies right now in an attempt to do away with a lot of the myth and mystery of coffee brewing. Checking ourselves against international standards in an effort to make better coffee will not only allow, but truly justify, more sustainable prices at every stage of production. The future of coffee will, of course, always be in the cup, but that cup has to be exceptional. That said, if a company could show me a coffee grinder for under $5000 that produced a grind particle distribution that had less than 20% fines, then I would probably say that was the future as well."

Alejandro Cadena on the Coffee of the Year Competition
sL: "What COTY means to you and your farmers?"
aC: "COTY is a great way to publicly recognize the work and dedication of the growers that day-to-day strive to produce an amazing tasting coffee. It is also a recognition to the Virmax cuppers that discovered this coffee. Without their great work this coffee could have been lost in a pile along with mediocre coffee. As a consequence of their discovery we were able to reward a grower that goes the extra mile in terms of quality with extra money and recognition. It is also proof that Colombia has an amazing potential to produce high quality coffees and that so far we have only seen the tip of the iceberg with regards to the available qualities and profiles. We (Virmax and all the small coffee growers we work with) are very proud to have received the COTY recognition two years in a row and look forward to continuing to work on improving the quality of Colombian coffee and improving the living standards of our grower partners. We hope that this achievement helps to motivate more Colombian coffee growers out there. which we are sure have the same potential that Mr Imbachi has if they strive to produce high quality coffee."

sL: "What made the winning coffee stand out from the rest, maybe mention details from the farm and/or details in the cup."
aC: "The winning coffee was produced by Mr. Carlos Imbachi, a small coffee grower from the Municipality of San Agustin (Huila) with whom we have been working for over 4 years now. This coffee is very exotic as it is intensely sweet, with notes of honey, maracuya (passion fruit), apricot and mandarin, with a floral and refreshing aftertaste, a complex combination of fragrances and flavors that make it stand out amongst the rest. This amazing cup is the result of the hard work and dedication that Mr Imbachi does every day at his farm, harvesting only the ripest cherries and processing his coffee with utmost care and attention to detail. His coffee is the perfect example of the great terroir of the region where he grows his coffee. Another aspect that makes this coffee stand out from the rest its that it contains a percentage of Yellow and Red Bourbon, a varietal that is hard to find in Colombia."

Ben Helfen and the BGA Cafe (Ben's baby)
When I first got in touch with Ben to write something for us regarding his thoughts on how the BGA cafe went, I was smacked with all the details he knew he'd be perfecting to make next year's BGA cafe even better.
I want to highlight that mentality. One that knows immediately, that after this expo is you're going to get to work and making the next year even better. That's the passion that the best farmers, roasters, and baristas have, and all roles in between. That's the mentality that keeps the industry improving each year.
Back to Ben's BGA cafe. Other things to applaud about the 2010 BGA cafe include the great amount of work put in by volunteer baristas. Around 30 baristas put in time to make coffee for the masses. It's safe to say that people were probably most excited to get coffee from our World Barista Champion Gyilim Davies, Australian Champion Scottie Callahan, Canadian Champion Sammie Piccolo, or the likes of US Regional Champs Mike Marquard or Lorenzo Perkins.
Just in case you didn't know, this year's coffee offerings were thanks to Cup of Excellence, which is a big step forward and something many people enjoyed. Companies that really brought the sweetness are Barefoot Coffee Roasters, Noble Coffee Roasting, Atlas Coffee Importers, Cuvee Coffee, Batdorf and Bronson, Honolulu Coffee Company and The Conservatory.
Many customers of the BGA cafe had the best drinks of their life - and Ben love's to hear that but knows deep down that he's excited to smooth his direction even more and deliver one step up, whatever that may be.

Ben Helfen - the BGA thanks you big time for directing this BGA cafe!

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this wrap up. I hope those who read it can realize they have the power to greatly impact the direction of our great coffee industry. May next year only continue with more great coffees, more exciting challenges, and continued community warming the "coffee-passionate."
Mark your calender for next year's expo taking place in Houston Texas April 28 to May 1 2011.

See you there!


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