Going to Atlanta|
The SCAA show, held in Atlanta this year, was great! Every segment of the coffee and tea industries was represented. Growers, exporters, importers, roasters and suppliers to roasting and retail attended as well as exhibited. Walking the floor, one sees the bean, leaf, and every conceivable product that makes that bean become a finished product. Art, jewelry, signage, web connections, and serving accessories to adorn your retail shop were all present in record numbers.
Most exciting for me was to witness the youth, vitality, and the passion that permeates this show. The industry is again being infused with young and passionate personalities all on a quest to bring the premium coffee experience to the consumer. The industry is growing, and in an effort to focus on each segment’s demands, the SCAA has set up divisions within their association: The Roasters’ Guild, Barista Guild, Coffee Quality Institute, C-members (consumer members)… the list goes on.
This association continues to attract people willing to share knowledge - I can’t get over the variety, quality and sheer number of classes offered, ranging from basic to intensive levels. The Specialty Tea Institute has consistently held a two-day seminar within the SCAA show and it continues to improve in content as well as grow in attendance. Speakers were highly informative and willing to give their time and expertise outside of class, and attendees were brimming with enthusiasm and positive energy.
The members of the newly formed Women in Coffee group are reaching out to one another, exploring ways to serve the female coffee trade and then determine a proper organizational path. The Roasters Guild is intent on sharing knowledge and techniques and has successfully organized retreats to hone roasters’ skills. It was just a few years ago that their first meeting had 10 attendees, now they fill a room of over 200 people.
The exhibit hall was filled with cheers during the U.S. Barista Championship as baristas competed for the title and a chance to compete in the World Barista Championship in Italy this June. The Barista Guild’s booth was inundated with people signing up to become members while fellow baristas brewed delicious espresso for anyone who came by to talk.
I noticed a happier and calmer crowd at this year’s show. More programs are in place for producers and roaster/retailer to benefit each other. The striving continues for quality coffee, and the industry is making good progress in ensuring that high quality coffee does not become extinct coffee.
Editor & Co-Publisher
Tea & Coffee - May/June, 2004
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