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Reports From the Road
SCAA 2008 Minneapolis Day 1
Author: CoffeeGeek Team
Posted: May 2, 2008
Article rating: 9.3
feedback: (6) comments | read | write

Day One at the SCAA means everything's open for business. Let's see what's going on.

Yumpin' Yiminy! Black Cat Project!
Posted by Mark Prince, 11:30am Permalink to this blog entry

When I was walking the show floor on Friday before the booths were fully set up, I saw this piece of glass that Bill Crossland at the LM booth removed from a box. It was etched with black graffiti. I asked what it was and Bill said "you'll find out tomorrow.

He was taking out the glass for this extreme bad boy. Possibly the coolest looking machine at the show! Intelligentsia Coffee's new "Black Cat Project" espresso machine. Yikes.

Best guess, this is actually a machine with TWO GS/3s inside. Check out the control panel.

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The Control Panel
La Marzocco was mum yesterday, but I'm betting this has got two GS/3s inside, look at that control panel.
Cafe Imports Producer / Roaster Party
Posted by Mark Prince, 6:45am Permalink to this blog entry

For the past few years, the party to attend at the SCAA, if you only attended one, was the Cafe Imports party that usually takes place on the Friday eve of the conference. There's a lot of Friday night events, including the official opening reception and countless other small and large events, but few have better food, better drink, and a better vibe.

It's not just about the good drinks and food though. Jason Long and everyone at Cafe Imports throw this party for one primary reason: they want to put producers (read: farmers) together with roasters, and they want to do it in a conducive, comfortable and enjoyable environment.

A lot of these roasters never get a chance to actually meet the people who grow their coffee, Long said to me. "Many of them simply can't afford to travel to origin, can't get the experience of speaking first hand with these producers."

At this event, there were many fantastic connections made between producers and roasters - you could see it happening all over the restaurant that Cafe Imports hired to host this happening. There were plenty of quiet side areas for many a conversation, but later on, an amazing latin jazz band played, and the party was completely on.

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2008 SCAA Exhibition Opens!
Posted by Beata Siwinski, 9:25am Permalink to this blog entry

It's official! As of 12 noon, the door has been opened and the SCAA Exhibition has started. The Board of Directors along with a member of local government officially cut the ribbon. As well, City of Minneapolis and its Mayorís Office declared this weekend as Coffee Specialty Weekend in Minneapolis.

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Its all smiles before the ribbon opening
Mayor of Minneapolis cuts the ribbon
Let the party begin!
Black Coffee Documentary showing
Posted by Mark Prince, 9:45am Permalink to this blog entry

I ran into Mark Pendergast, the author of the awesome book, Uncommon Grounds. He was handing out fliers for a showing this evening for the documentary Black Coffee complete with a panel featuring Pendergast, Irene Angelico the writer and director of the film, Paul Rice from Transfair, Sara Bake-Crosby of Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting, Doug Welsh of Peet's Coffee, and Mark Romano of illycafe.

That's a pretty powerful lineup.

The film is being shown offsite, at the Oak Street Cinema at 8pm tonight (Sat May 3) (309 Oak Street S.E. if you're in town).

This documentary is easily the best film I've ever seen on the subject of coffee. It's also much more objective and wider in scope than the other "famous" coffee movie, Black Gold. Where Black Gold had a mission, an axe to grind, Black Coffee wanted to be more educational and informative, letting the viewer make their own conclusions instead of having it presented to them.

If you're in Canada, the DVD is available via Amazon.ca; apparently it will be available soon in the US as well.

Meet the Authors - Scott Rao, Dean Cycon
Posted by Mark Prince, 10:35am Permalink to this blog entry

Just met Dean Cycon of Dean's Beans, when I was visiting Scott Rao at his book signing for The Professional Barista's Handbook. Cycon has his own book, JavaTrekker, Dispastches from the world of Fair Trade Coffee, and he graciously gave me a copy of one, and personally signed it.

I'll be reviewing the book later on CoffeeGeek, but it was sure nice to meet the author (s) in person and get a first hand perspective of what they wrote.

Here's a pic of Scott and Dean, as well as a pic of Scott's book signing. That's Chris Nachtrieb, of ChrisCoffee.com in the second picture.

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Most disapointing thing at the show....
Posted by Mark Prince, 10:55am Permalink to this blog entry
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For those who know me (or think they know me), I'm not one to shy away from strong opinions about the SCAA, both positive and negative; but I try to keep those editorial and personal opinions out of these show reports where I can, saving them for my more op/ed pieces on CoffeeGeek and elsewhere.

But this one I have to bring up - the "New Products Showcase". I see this every year at the SCAA, and for me, it's one of the more disappointing things at the show (though there are exceptions some years - maybe one or two things in the case that are actually pretty cool).

This year, as with all years, it's sad. Nothing but syrups, cups, sleeves, airpots, more sleeves, more syrups, coasters, some boring books (not even the "cool books" that are actually at this show!) and yet more syrups.

It's early days here, and I'll do my best to try and find you some actually "cool" and interesting things at this show - stuff that isn't just put in a case by allied companies. Stuff of interest to you and me. I already have leads on a few  things. I hear the UCC people with their halogen vac pot burners are here (I wrote about them back in 2003 when no one was paying attention - they had no sales that year). I also hear Baratza has a new grinder, and that there's a heap of new books this year, and that Intelly has a custom La Marzocco, and the updated Elektra Nina grinder, and.... well, I'll try to get to them all!

The most interesting grinder at the show....
Posted by Mark Prince, 11:15am Permalink to this blog entry

Well, for me at least....

I first saw this grinder by Elektra, called the Nina, last year at the SCAA show, and this year, they brought the updated version, and it looks even better than before. Here's what I like about this grinder

- specially developed conical burr blades - these are custom made for this grinder, not off the shelf.
- incredibly quiet. You have to stand next to it to believe it.
- incredibly fast. A double dose takes about 4-5 seconds, start to finish.
- Two patents - one for the system inside the grinder that leaves an unbelievable 0.1-0.5 grams of ground coffee left inside between uses, and the other patent is for the swing arm tamper / portafilter holder design.

And what's new this year is the best news. They've upgraded the holding plate for the portafilter so it's now adjustable and usable with almost any commercial portafilter. In the past, it would only work with Elektra portafilters. And the other new development is that they have two versions of this electronic, auto dosing grinder - the tiny stepped version (for grind fineness settings), and a new stepless version with their own unique stepless grinder selection.

This is a kick ass grinder. And it's the official grinder of the 2008 Australian National Barista Championship. Elektra wasn't even invited to submit a grinder for the WBC Certification, which is a shame. This one would have kicked butt. Here's some photo love of this $2,100 wunderkind that grinds great, wastes no coffee, and works fast and quietly.

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Favoured Canadians
Posted by Mark Prince, 12:50pm Permalink to this blog entry

Ran into a one two punch just a few mins ago.

Mike Yeung, Canada's Barista Champion for 2007-2008; and Reg Barber, who needs no introduction.

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Astoria's New (old, retro) machine
Posted by Mark Prince, 12:55pm Permalink to this blog entry

I thought this two group lever machine looked pretty cool.

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49th Parallel Coffee's Booth
Posted by Mark Prince, 1:25pm Permalink to this blog entry

The 49th Parallel folks are at their second SCAA show, and last year, at their inaugural show, world champion barista Klaus Thomsen thought they were pouring the best shots on the show floor... would it hold up this year?

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Manning the booth were Barrett Jones, Vince Piccolo, and over on the brew station area, Lindsay Parker. I managed to hit the booth at a quiet time - two other times I walked by, it was a heckuva lot more busy. I was so coffeed out by this time, I could barely try any more coffee, but I just had to have something, so I got Vince to make me a macchiato.

Of course, he's gotta pull one out of the hat, and pour a twelve leaf (count em) rosetta in the espresso cup. Geezus.

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Exploring the exhibition grounds
Posted by Beata Siwinski, 3:05pm Permalink to this blog entry

The first day of exhibition is almost over and I feel that I only visited less than a quarter of booths! I met a lot of new interesting people, some of them who used to live in Vancouver or who are of polish heritage - such a small world. Of course there is here abundance of various trade professionals, packaging and roaster manufacturers, espresso equipment and coffee farmers, everything you need to run a cafe or get involved in specialty coffee.

I noticed that a lot of companies are switching to eco-friendly materials or more enviromentally friendly production methods. One example is Whole Latte Love, who is packing their new line of organic coffees into biodegrable bags! This is fantastic and it's obvious that being ecologically friendly is now a trendy thing.

Here is some of the photo-highlights of second day in Minneapolis.

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Cafe de El Salvador Booth
A cupping demonstration of Salvadoran coffee
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Cafe de Mexico booth
Trying out a Mexican traditional costume
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Whole Latte Love
A new line of organic coffees packaged in biodegradable bags
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Whole Latte Love Booth
Gary Salzman who runs the company was busy all day answering a lot of questions.
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The Coffee Review
The man behind The Coffee Review, Kenneth Davids
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Ascaso Factory booth proudly displaying their beautiful espresso machines
USBC Semi Finalists (including regional winners)
Posted by Mark Prince, 7:10pm Permalink to this blog entry

Here you are, in no particular order, the USBC Semi Finalists

Devin Peddle, Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters
Drew Catlin, Ritual Coffee Roasters
Chris Baca, Ritual Coffee Roasters
Billy Wilson, The Albina Press
Alex McCracken, Kaldiís Coffee Company
Danielle Glasky, Octane Coffee
Mike Phillips, Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters
Belle Battista, Aldo Coffee
Ryan Wilbur, Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters LA
Pete Licata, PTís Coffee Roasters
Amber Sather, Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters
Lem Butler, Counter Culture Coffee
Patrick Adam Pierce, Cafe Medici
Jason Calhoon (not sure the cafe)
Scott Lucey, Alterra Coffee Roasters
Kyle Glanville, Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters LA
Natasha Lebadev, Zoka Coffee Roasters
Brett Walker, Zoka Coffee Roasters
Heather Perry, Coffee Klatch
Justin Tiesl, Alterra Coffee Roasters
Clint Newlon, The Roasterie
Nick Griffith, Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters
Mike Marquard, Kaldiís Coffee Company
Chris "Defurious" Deferio, Carriage House Coffee

and... my sentimental favourite,

Phuong Tran, Lava Java

The Trophies
Posted by Mark Prince, 7:30pm Permalink to this blog entry

These are the USBC Trophies designed and donated by Reg Barber (he doesn't get paid for these things 90% of the time, which isn't common knowledge).

Pretty sweet.

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Flickr Stream Photos
Posted by Mark Prince, 8:30pm Permalink to this blog entry

In case you haven't checked out our Flickr Feed (or the group feed, you should - lots of great photos posted every day! Here's a taste


Favourite Photo
Posted by Mark Prince, 8:50pm Permalink to this blog entry

My absolute most favourite photo of the day - Beata with Phuong Tran. This was taken literally minutes before Phuong had to run back to the convention centre (from our hotel lobby bar) to find out if she made the semi finals. She did!

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SCAA Store
Posted by Beata Siwinski, 10:15am Permalink to this blog entry

One of the pleasant surprises today was visiting the SCAA store. There were some new items, such as a backpack, which I bought to carry all my stuff around the floor. There were also an assortment of SCAA branded clothing, cupping supplies and posters. This year the store had many interesting books, which were available for sale and you also had the chance to meet the authors. I very delighted to meet Dean Cycon, the author of Java Trekker, and Scott Rao of The Professional Barista's Handbook. Also Instaurator was showcasing his new book The Espresso Quest and we were lucky to have our copy personally signed.

All of the products are also available on the SCAA website and you can find them in the store section click here

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The SCAA Store
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Various coffee books on display
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Assortment of merchandise
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Book signing schedule
Article rating: 9.3
Author: CoffeeGeek Team
Posted: May 2, 2008
feedback: (6) comments | read | write
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