SCAA Offers Barista Focused Content in Lecture Series


By Laila Ghambari, BGA Executive Council 

I had the great opportunity to be a part of the SCAA's professional development sub-committee for lectures this year, which means that I got to take part in the selection process for the presentations that would be given at The SCAA Event taking place next week.

As a BGA member, it was important to me that there were lectures that were geared specifically towards BGA members and what they would want to hear! Here are my top 5 picks that no BGA member should miss! Unfortunately a few of them are at the same time, so you will have to miss some of them. Sorry!

Remember, most lectures are free with your trade show badge, which you can also get for free by volunteering your time!

#5: Talking About Roasting

Saturday April 25th Room 310 10:30-11:45am

• Christopher Schooley, Roaster & Coffee Design and Experience Coordinator, Coffee Shrub & SCAA & Troubadour Maltings • Jen Apodaca, West Coast Production Manager, Blue Bottle Coffee • Colleen Anunu, Director of Coffee, gimme! coffee • Timothy Hill, QC Manager and Coffee Buyer, Counter Culture Coffee

How do you talk about roasting with your customers? There is a lot of information that we share with our customers about the coffees we sell, but having information about the roast other than perhaps the roast level is not as common. This panel discussion will explore some ways in which roasters can share more about their craft with the public as well as look at what the challenges to delivering and processing this information are.

I’ll be the first to admit I know very little about roasting. As a barista, who works with a roasted product everyday, that is kind of embarrassing. This is a great opportunity to learn a little bit about how the green bean turns brown.

#4: The Best of Symposium

Friday April 25th 10:30-11:30am Room 3B

• Peter Giuliano, Director of Symposium, SCAA

Peter Giuliano has worked for a quarter century in specialty coffee as a coffee educator, taster, roaster, and buyer. He was a founder and president of the Roasters’ Guild, and served as president of the Specialty Coffee Association of America. As co-owner and Director of Coffee for Counter Culture Coffee he pioneered what has come to be known as Direct Trade Coffee, an approach that emphasizes quality, equity, and transparency in the supply chain. Giuliano is currently the Director of the Specialty Coffee Symposium, a cutting-edge conference and community of thought leaders in coffee.

Often times referred to as the TED for the coffee industry, Symposium is something we all should strive to attend one day. With a steep attendance fee, you might settle for volunteering your time for the Symposium coffee service, an important component of the Symposium experience. This year, the topics range from the history and anthropology of the coffee shop to getting knee deep in an important allied resource to coffee: milk. Don’t miss Symposium's fearless leader Peter Giuliano recap the most interesting topics of the 2014 Symposium.

#3: Evolution and Innovation of Espresso Machines

Friday April 25th 9:00am – 10:15am Room 3A

• Terry Ziniewicz, Coffee Industry Consultant, Caffewerks • David Schomer, Founder/CEO, Espresso Vivace • Kent Bakke, CEO La Marzocco Intl., La Marzocco • Gregory Scace, Engineer and Owner, Espresso Research, LLC • Lauro Fioretti, Engineer, Nuova Simonelli • Jacob Ellul-Blake, Design Engineer, Pantechnicon Design

An in-depth look at both the advancements in espresso machine technology over the last century, as well as, taking a glimpse into what's in store for the future. Hear from the professionals that helped shape the way we know espresso to be today and get inspired by what they are dreaming up for tomorrow.

We work on espresso machines every day as baristas. How much about this workhorse do you know? The history, innovations, mistakes, and glorious moments are all revealed with this all-star line of people that you may not know but most certainly should.

#2: Evolving the Model: Café Concepts from Forward-Thinking Retailers

Friday April 25th 9:00am – 10:15am Room 307

• Ryan Willbur, Coffee, Education & Community Coordinator, La Marzocco USA • Michael Phillips, Director of Education and Standards, Handsome Coffee Roasters • Stephen Morrissey, Director of Communications, Intelligentsia Coffee • Samuel Lewontin, General Manager, Everyman Espresso • Chelsey Walker-Watson, Director of Retail, Slate Coffee Roasters • Charles Babinski, Barista, G&B Coffee

In a world where new cafes open every day, and the popularity of specialty coffee grows, it’s becoming harder and harder to differentiate your business, product, and experience. This session is meant to give ideas, and inspiration, to café owners who are struggling to think outside of the box and to celebrate the idea of moving away from the typical café model and explore what else might be out there. Hear from professional baristas and business owners who are breaking the mold and offering creative retail experience to coffee consumers.

Look at that line up! These are people from some of the most interesting and daring cafes in the country. Listen as they talk about pushing the envelope and creating an experience like none other. The future is now!

#1: Crafting A Viable Career Path in Coffee

Saturday April 26th 10:30-11:45am Room 3A

• Trevor Corlett, CEO, Madcap Coffee Company • Erin Meister, Regional Counter Intelligence representative, Counter Culture Coffee • Joe Marrocco, Sales Associate / Director of Education, Cafe' Imports • Sarah Dooley, Education & Quality Control, Baratza

Many people enter the coffee industry as baristas. And many baristas become interested and inspired enough by coffee that they would like to make a career of it. The challenge is identifying and pursuing a career path that is achievable and that pays well enough to be sustainable over the course of a career. This session features a panel of professionals who entered coffee as baristas, and who have built careers in coffee: business owners, green buyers, sales and marketing professionals, and others. The panelists will discuss how they developed their paths, and offer guidance on how you can, too.

This is, of course, my number one pick. This lecture was specifically designed for you, BGA members. I get asked all the time about how to grow in the industry and it is something I love to talk about because I’ve lived it. Trevor Corlet, BGA Chair, will lead a round table discussion with people who started as baristas and worked their way up into a viable career that they love. Please, do not miss this amazing opportunity to learn and hopefully grow.

Honorable Mentions

Brews of a Different Feather: Cross-Industry Collaboration

Sunday April 27th 10:30-11:45am Room 307

• David Yake, Accounts & Education, Tony's Coffee • Jay Cunningham, Sales Executive / Green Buyer, Intelligentsia Coffee • Christopher Schooley, Roaster & Coffee Design and Experience Coordinator, Coffee Shrub & SCAA & Troubadour Maltings • Timothy Hill, QC Manager and Coffee Buyer, Counter Culture Coffee

Specialty coffee roasters and micro-breweries share many similarities; both industries are founded on sensory evaluation and small-batch experimentation; both industries have adventurous customers that seek out new taste experiences, and both industries pride themselves in educating their customers on the unique characteristics of each brew. This panel will discuss how these cross-industry partnerships can help both sides reach a new audience, as well as giving each company new insights into marketing strategies not common in their respective industries.

Three Varieties in El Salvador: Production and Potential

Sunday April 27th 10:30-11:45am Room 204

• Emilio Lopez Diaz, Grower/Miller/Exporter/Roaster, Cuatro M, Single Origin Coffees • Michael Kaiser, Commercial Manager, Cuatro M, Single Origin Coffee

This session offers a detailed analysis and comparison of the outputs of production within three distinct coffee varieties, grown in the same soil of a single farm. The presentations seeks to highlight the similarities and superiorities of specific varieties within the specialty coffee market, while analyzing specific outputs that were most influential on the cup quality of each variety; (ex: Total yields per hectare, sugar content, cherry categorization, etc.).

Value of a Distinct Brand

Sunday April 27th 10:30-11:45am Room 303

• Brian W. Jones, Founder, Dear Coffee, I Love You.

How do you rise above the tide of coffee company conformity? How can you be more innovative and distinct? Your brand is one of your most valuable assets when you sell the same product as everyone else. Applying his experience as a design professional that has worked with successful companies to innovate business in their respective industries, Brian will present examples that will inspire established and aspiring business owners to think differently about their brand and customer experience. This presentation includes case studies from within the coffee industry that demonstrate how distinctness was employed to design stronger brand experiences.

We'll see you in Seattle! To register, visit