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SCAA 2006 Charlote Day 2 Report
Posted: April 8, 2006
Article rating: 9.3
feedback: (11) comments | read | write

Day 2, the Sunday at the SCAA is when all the real nitty gritty gets going. The USBC has its semi finals and the trade show floor is buzzing with lots of activity. Some of the best seminars are scheduled today, and the smell of business... the business of coffee is heavy in the air.

 
Restaurant Coffee!
Posted by Mark Prince, 10:55am Permalink to this blog entry
Click for larger image

Since I wasn't scheduled to judge today after all in the USBC semifinals, I decided to attend a seminar I really wanted to catch - the Restaurant Coffee seminar. It's one about improving restaurant coffee, and move the concept of that coffee from "regular" (and decaf) to culinary. And decaf, I guess.

There was Jim Munson, a fellow I've known for some time in the biz, from Dallis Coffee giving the main talk. Dallis is really high on the presspot service in restaurants, in the NYC area.

Joining him on a panel were Christopher Hollis from Boulder Creek/Blackstone Steakhouses, Nils Lindblad from Bodum, and Christopher Russell from Union Square Cafe, all based out of NY. Russell offers a very culinary selection of press coffees in his bustling and famous restaurant, and Hollis' business goes more single scope - a single type of coffee, and one press size.

The talk was very interesting. Munson put up some slides that showed exactly how profitable moving to a press service would be, sometimes showing as much as a $25,000 increase in yearly revenue when a restaurant moves about 500 cups a week. They covered costs, practicalities of the setup, and because Dallis is pushing Bodum-labeled "frac" packs (exact ground portions in a sealed bag) mainly covered doing the service with these proportioned, preground coffee samples.

It was funny, because Jim at one point challenged me to a cupping test to tell the difference between fresh ground, right in the middle of the seminar. I know Dallis has great coffee, but I may have to take him up on that one.

The talk had some interesting tidbits, including the fact that the biggest barrier to press pot service introduction is not customers or the initial cost - but the serving staff. Apparently serving staff don't like changes. Russell even joked that giving out raises to staff is difficult... "here's more money..." "but it's different!" "I know, but it means more money for you!" "But.... it's changed. It's different! I don't know what to do!"

I loved the seminar because it even touched on doing a "coffee list" in a restaurant, much like a wine list. I've been thinking about this idea for some time, but I want to bring it steps forward even more. I want to introduce the idea of coffee pairings in flights. Small demitasses of coffee paired with quarter-portions of deserts. It would rock.

 
Aeropress... it could have been so much more...
Posted by Mark Prince, 1:00pm Permalink to this blog entry
Click for larger image
Aeropress showdown
One of the tasters watches the Clover Barista preparing his beverage (foreground, yellow shirt)
Click for larger image
Not quite sure...
Brad's not quite sure how this one will play out.
Click for larger image
Come here...
Neither was I... but Julie Beals was very convincing in getting me to come over and be part of it.
Click for larger image
Hurry!
Julie, working her magic on getting a reluctant me to participate. Mark Crawford on the left.

Alan Alder had his Aeropress vs. Clover thing at the Intelly booth. It's a shame, it could have been so much more than it was. But Alan was determined to brew using his 180F water and paper filters. It still wasn't bad, but could have been transparently identical to the Clover.

Here's the low down. Alan wanted to use a french roast, which Intelly doesn't have. So he settled on one of their single origins and did the side by side with some tasters, including Mark Crawford (ESI), myself, Julie Beals (Fresh Cup), Brad Ford, and a few others. I got Don Holly (very experienced palate) and Peter Guiliano (another experienced palate) very interested in it as well, until they found out that Alan didn't want to use the steel filter option for the Aeropress. They balked and I almost balked, but Julie convinced me to try anyway.

When I drank my blind samples (I didn't know which was which), I knew immediately which one was the Aeropress based on flatter profile in the cup, but I did something which may end up being bad. I gave Alan a bit of a pass, and rated the (unknown, but I knew) Clover brew a 7, and his a 5. In reality, it was probably a 4 or a 3, and the aftertaste was so bad after a while, I had to find some carbonated water and crackers to get rid of it. The Aeropress 180F / paper filter was the last one I sampled, and it was hurting after two or three minutes.

Alan decided next to do espresso (la marzocco) vs. the aeropress. I just couldn't stick around for that one.

The thing is, I knew in my heart and my head that if I had gone up there, and matched the profile of the Clover's brewing parameters (45 second steep, 201F temps, the same grind) and used the metal filters, I would have been able to make the two blind samples so identical, it would have fooled the tasters completely. This would have shown this $30 product (with maybe a $5 option) to be capable of producing a near similar cup to an $8000 wunderkind. Which would have been massive advertisements for the Aeropress.

Still, I have a feeling Alan will be posting the data soon, and I have to say it wasn't an accurate, scientific test or evaluation, I'm sad to say. We were just doing a rating of one to ten with no "ten" barrier set, no real cupping quantitative scaling in the judging of the cups. And I know I wasn't the only one who was ranking the Aeropress coffee a bit optimistically (I talked a bit to Mark Crawford about it after). And Julie Beals did actually pick the Aeropress higher than the Clover. I would have preferred at least a situation where we pick our fave, give that a 10, and rate the second cup based on the best's "10" position.

But I can't help but wonder how the test would have gone down with a metal filter and a match to the Clover's brewing parameters....

 
Interview with Rob Stephens
Posted by Mark Prince, 5:10pm Permalink to this blog entry
Click to Listen

Conducted a very interesting podcast interview with Rob Stephens, the current SCAA Conference Chairperson and incoming (May 1) SCAA Board President.

Rob's the main guy behind this year's conference. He didn't pick the city, that was done a long time ago, but he did pick the theme of the show (Quality Tools for the Coffee Trade) and is one of the ones responsible for the two new tracks this year - Culinary (yay!) and Business Growth.

It's all on a podcast for you to download at your leisure.
CG Podcast 036 - Rob Stephen Interview, 9.2mb, 32 minutes approximately, mp3 file direct download.

 
And your USBC Finalists are...
Posted by Mark Prince, 6:25pm Permalink to this blog entry

The semi finals are over, and the finalists are announced. In no particular order:

Amber Sather, Intelligentsia Coffee
Matt Riddle (go Matt!), Intelligentsia Coffee
Jon Lewis, Bumper Crop Coffee
Steve Fritzen, Coffee Hound
Ellie Matuszak, Intelligentsia Coffee (Doug predicted 3 in the finals the night before - he was right).
Billy Wilson, The Albina Press

Big day tomorrow. Who's gonna win? Who knows?

I'm sad to see that my man Jay Carragay didn't get to the finals. Nor my sister Jennifer Prince, who I felt was just awesome as a Barista. Or my man (my other man) Ryan Denhardt. Or Phillip Search. Or Gabe Boscana. Or for that matter David George and Andy Cronin. Or sweet Heather Perry. Or Shannon Rice, of PT's Coffee. And it sucks that David George, Mike Strumpf, Ryan Brown and Alex McCracken didn't get through to the finals. And how can I forget Chris Deferio and Lorrie Mahieu and her great red bottles. And Ryan Wilber, the man, the legend... that you didn't get into the finals? I'll never know.

(lol, did I forget any of the semi finalists?).

One last point of clarification. I wish the USBC would stick to schedule... I have it on my documents that the announcement would be 7:00pm to 7:30pm. I got there at 7:05pm, and the announcements were done, finito, complit, ended. Tears and hugs. Judges called up and thanked long before and no Mark to answer the call. Cuz I was busy editing Rob Stephen's interview for the podcast. I didn't snub the announcement. I showed up when it was supposed to take place. :-)

Now enjoy some flickr love.
www.flickr.com
SCAA Day 2 CoffeeGeek's SCAA Day 2 photoset

 
I went to the SCAA and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt...
Posted by Mark Prince, 6:50pm Permalink to this blog entry

But it's all for a good cause. Got this $175 Tshirt that doesn't even fit my large frame. The good news is, the money all goes to a charity - in this case, the International Women's Coffee Alliance, who, incidentally, I have been hosting on our servers for free since they launched their website way back when (but never really told anyone till today). Murky coffee donated this shirt. Anyone who can fit a small "L" want it?

The Tshirt auction on the opening night was a great event, with a lot of money raised for verious charities.


murky coffee shirt

 
BTW....
Posted by Mark Prince, 7:40pm Permalink to this blog entry

BTW.....

Today just happens to be (still reigning) champion USBC 2005.... Phuong Tran's Birthday! Happy Birthday Phuong!


Phuong Tran Birthday!

Article rating: 9.3
Posted: April 8, 2006
feedback: (11) comments | read | write
Reports From the Road Column Archives  
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One of the more popular pieces of content on the CoffeeGeek website are the reports from major trade shows. We cover shows like no other media source does - giving first hand intimate and frank reports that give you the real scoop on what's going on, from a consumer and a coffee lover's true perspective.

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