/ TItle Image via SCAA Symposium /
What's on your schedule for Spring Break this year? If we had our druthers, we'd be heading out west to Seattle for the U.S.' biggest annual gathering of coffee people. Each year, the Specialty Coffee Association of America pulls together people from all branches of the specialty coffee industry for one huge blowout celebration of all things coffee. Titled simply The Event, it's a combination trade show, convention and learning center where participants roast coffee, brew coffee, study coffee, talk about coffee and, most of all, enjoy coffee for five fabulously caffeinated days.
This year's Event in Seattle takes place April 24-27 and is preceded by a 2-day Symposium where industry specialists will discuss and explore subjects integral to getting the very best of specialty coffee to you. This year's Symposium focuses on a part of the coffee chain near and dear to the hearts of most consumers: the coffee shop. It includes sessions on the history and use of the "coffee space," lessons learned about selling better coffee (and selling coffee better) and the importance of sourcing and using high-quality milk. There's also a session on coffee and sensory science and one on the effects and response to coffee leaf rust, which has devastated specialty coffee plantations throughout Central America. Throughout the two day event, participants have the opportunity to engage and connect through the formal talks and informal salons where they can discuss and connect with others in the industry.
The Event itself is far more than a gathering of industry professionals. It's the annual highlight and culmination of the most important competitions in the specialty coffee world. Competitions at the event include the United States Latte Art Championship, United States Cup Tasters Championship, Roasters Guild Roasters Choice Competition, United States Barista Championship and United States Brewers Cup Championship. In addition to the competitions, attendees will have the chance to attend skill-building workshops, achieve various industry certifications, check out the latest and greatest coffee equipment innovations and, most important of all, sample lots and lots and lots of outstanding coffee. With close to 400 exhibitors (including, we were excited to see, the Acaia coffee-brewing scale
we highlighted back in December), there's more than enough to keep everyone engaged between competition bouts, special breakfasts, dinners, tours and even a 5K run.
The People's Choice Award
One of the highlights of the SCAA exposition each year is the People's Choice Award, given in 9 different categories and decided upon by attendees. Previous winners have included the Baratza Esatto
and the Behmor Brazen brewer. This year's entrants include the Bonavita Variable Temp kettle
and a personal favorite, the Uniterra Nomad portable espresso maker
You can follow all the fun and excitement on Twitter with #scaa2014 - we know we'll be watching to see what's trending in Seattle this week.