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Reports From the Road
SCAA 2008 Minneapolis Day 3
Author: CoffeeGeek Staff
Posted: May 4, 2008
Article rating: 7.8
feedback: (17) comments | read | write

In this last day of on-site coverage from the SCAA 2008 Minneapolis show, we hope to bring you some more interesting tidbits from the show floor, and reflections from the airplane ride home.

 
Baratza's New Vario Grinder
Posted by Mark Prince, 6:45am Permalink to this blog entry

Dropped by the Baratza booth to see what has been described to me as a "new hot shit grinder". I don't know if that's actually good or not, so I had to find out for myself. Turns out "hot shit" isn't adequate - it's super hot stuff.

The grinder is the new Vario grinder. It's not going to be cheap. But you can see some amazing innovations in this grinder that no one has even come close to.

Let's start with the burr set. Flat burrs, custom mounting plate, designed by Mahlkonig. These are ceramic burrs, but not the cheapo kind seen in some superautomatics. This is a serious piece of engineered hardened material that was specifically designed for this grinder.

Let's move to the control panel next. Definitely not an "Apple" designs (ie, no buttons) - this thing's got buttons coming out of the ying yang. It's an electronic timer dosing / bin grinder, and you can preprogram in three different grind timings for espresso, drip and press. You can also grind on demand, with the timer counting up, or set any specific grinding time and have it count down, 1/10th a second at a time.

Lots of other goodness going on. It's a belt driven grinder (no heat issues at all); they designed it so very little residual grounds stay in the grinder between uses; it comes with two bins, a "portaholder" for using a portafilter, effectively turning into a doserless espresso grinder, and a normal catch bin; and a lot more. I grinds 2 grams per second, making it very speedy.

But what's possibly the most cool thing about this grinder is the dual cam grind selection. On the right is the "macro selection", going from Press (around 1400 microns), all the way down to espresso, fine (around 250 microns or less). Then on the right side is the "micro selection" side where you fine tune the grind down to scant microns difference. Quite a sweet setup.

This grinder should be available in late summer. Keep an eye out for it. The innovations are extensive.

Click for larger image
Vario Grinder
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Vario Burr Set
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Fine Adjustment Side
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Macro Adjustment Side
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1st-inline Booth
Posted by Beata Siwinski, 10:20am Permalink to this blog entry

I stopped to visit our friends at 1st-line to find out what new and exciting products they have. This year I did get to finally meet Jim Piccinich and also talked to Moses Gammoh, company's Technical Support Manager about the new double-boiler Vibiemme Domobar machine that now comes with PID.

The demand for this model has been so high, that so far they have unable to keep it in stock, as there was a waiting list for it! Moses anticipates a new stock arriving by the end of this month.

If you look for this model on the the site you will not find it as of yet, but keep on checking their site or contact Moses or Jim for more details. click here

Click for larger image
1st-line booth
Click for larger image
New PID double-boiler Vibiemme
 
Meanwhile, in other Barista Championship News...
Posted by Mark Prince, 2:35pm Permalink to this blog entry
Click for larger image

Everyone in coffee in the US is obsessed with the USBC, but a couple without blinders on (not me - my blinders were full on and narrow) are also noting that Australia had their championships as well.

And I'm pleased to say my friend David Makin is once again the Australian Barista Champion! Here's some photo loveliness from the event. From the looks of things, it was a nice, tight event, and it explains why a lot of my fave Aussies weren't in Minneapolis.

Congrats David, and best of luck in Copenhagen!

 
USBC Winner
Posted by Mark Prince, 4:40pm Permalink to this blog entry

Kyle Glanville, of Intelligentsia Cofee and Roasting Works LA, is the 2008 USBC  Winner, with 803.0 points.

Second place is "The Pete" Pete Licata, PTís Coffee Roasters who got 793 points, tied with Heather Perry, but gets second because he got four "6"s
Third place is Heather Perry, Coffee Klatch, 793.0 points
Fourth, Chris Baca, Ritual Coffee Roasters 773.5 points
Fifth Nick Griffith, Intelligentsia Coffee Roasters, 772.0 points
Sixth was Drew Catlin, Ritual Coffee Roasters 762.5 points.


Congrats to all, awesome competition.

 
Anti Latte Art
Posted by Mark Prince, 5:05pm Permalink to this blog entry

Just saw someone walking past me in the lobby with an anti-latte art t-shirt on (I think it was Baca - I only got a brief look).

All I can say is, YESSSSS. I didn't have my camera ready, it's packed up and ready for the flight home. But I did get a snap on my camera phone; I'll post it later on.

Latte art is as strong a draw as ever at this show, but I do see a few people cottoning on to the thing I've been bitching about for some time now about it - it's all fine and dandy to hone your last skillsets by getting great at latte art, but I've seen way too many baristas who see it as the first thing they think they should learn. That's bad news. I've tasted plenty of cappuccinos with gorgeous latte art on top that were:

- terrible tasting;
- not the right temperature
- not the right balance of espresso to milk
- not cappuccinos (you order a cappuccino, you get a latte with not much actual foam).

I had an interesting discussion though with one of the semi-finalist (USBC) baristas on Monday who did point out one thing about the latte arte.... he said that at the very least, you know that barista knows how to steam milk, something most PBTCs can't do.

 
Roaster's Choice Top Coffees Competition
Posted by Mark Prince, 5:15pm Permalink to this blog entry

Just got handed these results as I'm heading off to the airport. As you may your may not know, the Roasters' Guild organized a Cupping Championship, and these are the top six spots

Winner: Caribou Coffee with their Ethiopian Organic Yirgacheffe - way to go Chad (my co-presenter on Friday!)

Second Place, Tom Owen, Sweet Marias with their Rwanda Gkongoro Nyarusisa

Third Place, Danny O'Neil's The Roasterie with their Kenya Entry.

Fourth Place is Berres Brothers Coffee Roasters Ė Tanzania Peaberry
Fifth is Dolce Gourmet Gelateria & Cafe  with their City Roast Panama
And Sixth is Tonyís Coffees and Teas with their Colombian Tolima Microlot.

 
Spot the Clover Game
Posted by Mark Prince, 5:40pm Permalink to this blog entry

Is it a case of "oh, how the mighty have fallen" or "I'm not in the business of promoting Starbucks?" or something else entirely?

The absolute darling of the last two SCAA shows for most (erm, most, not all), the Coffee Equipment Company's Clover, was a difficult beast to really spot this year at the show. I remember huge crowds around the Clover booth last year; this year, while Clover had bought a booth, it was filled with tumbleweeds and not much else this year - neither Clover nor Starbucks showed up.

Clover was the buzz word, and one thing I definitely remember the last two years running was the "have you tasted this?" effect on the show floor: each day, at least a dozen or more times, someone would ask me "have you tasted the coffee on so and so's Clover?" We're also talking about a product that won best of show last year... for their software!!! So hot a property, even their software (which is having the plugged pulled on any day now) wins awards!

This year? I'd say there was one high profile booth with a Clover (Intelligentsia, thanks to their proximity to the USBC smorgasborg), one medium profile Clover (Alterra Coffee's booth), and one sorta low profile booth (well, all things relative) that also had a Clover - coffee importer Cafe Imports.

Three Clovers in the entire show. I remember talk after last year's show about how some booths would have multiple Clovers, highlighted and showcased as centre stage. How Clover is going to "dominate our industry, and reinvent coffee".

Don't get me wrong - I'm not knocking those who said that, hoped for it, etc. I'm also not knocking the three operators of Clovers this year. I'm knocking the Clover situation. So many fans, so many zealots, so many people who either had a stake in it, or just fell in love with it, and now it's a Starbucks property, and at this year's SCAA, it seems so much like the beautiful prom date who was in a car accident and somehow horribly disfigured, and everyone wanted to forget about her.

Will we even see a Clover at next year's SCAA?

Here's the three that were at this year's show.

Click for larger image
Clover at Cafe Imports Booth
Centre stage here, because  it's how Cafe Imports was "presenting" some of their more exciting coffee imports
Click for larger image
Intelly Booth Clover
Off to the side of the super hot "Black Cat Project" espresso machine.
Click for larger image
Alterra's Clover
More "buzz" around it at this time than a few other times I dropped by.
 
Pushing the SCAA to doing published and documented standards
Posted by Mark Prince, 6:20pm Permalink to this blog entry

Over the past four days, I've had several deep and interesting discussions with several SCAA board members and committee members about SCAA Tech Standards, and the creation of new published standards for various brewing methods.

The conversations where with Skip Finlay, who's an extremely active Technical Standards committee member, Board Director Marty Curtis, who is literally "Mr. Tech Standards", Board Director and next year's 2nd Vice President Peter Guliano, and even briefly with current President of the SCAA Board, Mark Inman. I'd say the conversations were all quite positive overall, and especially in the case of Finlay, quite informative.

I pitched almost all of these guys the idea that the SCAA has to start moving towards publishing more authoritative technical standards papers, to add to the one they already have for consumer devices: the drip brewer standard. I talked about how both professionals and consumers would benefit greatly from a Press Pot standard, a Siphon Coffee standard, a Manual Drip standard (which employs different methodologies than auto drip, to a point) and yes, the granddaddy of them all, an Espresso Brewing Standard.

I say almost all of these guys because out of all of them, Marty Curtis is the only one who already wants to see all these things done. Er... let me rephrase that. They all find great interest in these standards-pursuits, but Curtis is already thinking about how to get them done.

So what exactly would these things be? Well, on one hand, they'd be a technical certification that appliance makers could use to submit their products into the SCAA for testing, and get them officially certified, a la Technivorm's rather famous SCAA Certification for their drip brewers. The SCAA could come up with a series of parameters, materials, operational circumstances, etc etc for these various brewing methods and their machinery / devices, and manufacturers, if they meet all the requirements, could then sell their products with SCAA branding.

That's a huge win / win for both the .org and the manufacturers. It gives the SCAA well-needed "credibility" in being a standards-creating and pushing organization, and it gives the vendors and manufacturers a marketing tool, a standard to pursue and build, and a certain credence on their own that they've built a product that independent coffee experts are stating is 'good'.

But that's not all the standard would be - certification of an appliance is part of it. Another huge part is that we (well, anyone who's a coffee educator out there) would have additional tools in our arsenal to help the general public learn how to make great coffee. If there were a Press Pot Standard and Certification program, part of it would be SCAA-recommended method(s) (there could be more than one) on how to use a press pot. The SCAA would have recommended temperatures, recommended grind particle sizes, recommended steep times, the works. It'd be a valuable document to all SCAA members, and a guideline on making great coffee with this method.

We already have this for drip, and it's time for other methods.

Skip Finlay was the one who opened my eyes the most about this. He told me the process to get the ball rolling. Not only is the initial proposal (someone would have to submit it, and that might be me for press pots and siphon brewers) process pretty deep and involved, but a lot of things have to happen, not the least of which is a sensory panel to really determine if the standards-writers got their shit together or not.

I'm excited by the process. So much so that I'd definitely volunteer for SCAA work again to help hammer these things out. I hope, over the summer, to get the ball rolling, and not just type words to you, the reader and say "they should do this, and do that", but instead, go through the process of initiating the standards request. That means doing a helluva lot of research, and filling out the rather complex forms the SCAA has for this very thing.

It's also got me scared for the golden cow one I want the most - the Espresso Brewing Standard. I already have visions of how difficult the Press Pot standard's going to be: by comparison, it should be childplay when put up against espresso. Baby steps... baby steps (even if the baby's an elephant!).

Anyone want to get involved in drafting the initial submission?

 
Schwagless Show
Posted by Mark Prince, 8:40pm Permalink to this blog entry

I'm on the airplane back to Vancouver (via getting to my car at Seattle's SeaTac Airport) right now, and I just realised something. I've got pretty much no schwag, no freebie product in my bags... which is quite a departure from previous years.

Instead, I'm bringing home a bunch of books (all of which I bought, save for one, which the author refused to take money for), a cupping spoon (my gift for giving a presentation at SCAA), a stack of magazines, and... that's pretty much it. In previous years, I would have had

- massive amounts of chocolate from the various allied companies that go to the show
- tea samples for those I know who like tea (there's a lot of tea at the show)
- cookie, biscotti, confectionary samples
- maybe a thing or two from the Bodum booth (I didn't even visit the bodum booth this year)
- and heaps upon heaps of coffee.

It's the lack of coffee that surprised me - I didn't get samples from anyone, and not because the samples weren't there for the taking. I just didn't ask for any. In fact, I was offered various bags on the last day, and turned them all down. What the heck is going on?

But maybe it's just that I have enough of these shows under my belt that I just wasn't into the schwag game this year. And there were plenty of other first timers at the trade show that I'm sure needed to get their schwag experience, so who am I to get in the way of that and interfere...

But I have one regret. Oral Fixation Mints had all sorts of cool new flavours this year, like mojito, mimosa, jasmine tea etc etc, and I didn't get to try any of them or pick up a few packs. Sigh.... I could use a mint right about now.

Article rating: 7.8
Author: CoffeeGeek Staff
Posted: May 4, 2008
feedback: (17) comments | read | write
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