"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2014 - All rights reserved
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
2014 SCAA Exhibition
Text and Photos by Cher Wilhelm
freelance reporter for EspressoMyEspresso.com
Tuesday, May 6, 2014
For the first time in my websites's 13½ year history I have a guest contributor. With my new duties with Hottop I knew I would be in the booth much of the time without the ability to thoroughly peruse the show floor so I contacted Cheri (Some of you know her as "Double O Soul") to cover the show. She wrote a review in '12 of the Portland show which was thoroughly enjoyed by many on Homebarista.com, and I thought her point of view would be a nice change of pace for all of us. Enjoy! -RG
My journey began early in the morning from another country but I was greeted on this side of the border with a thrift store find - jadeite cup and a pass on what could have been a painful speeding ticket. It was hard not to see these events as good things to come from a weekend dedicated to coffee.
This year's portrait country was Peru which is a soft spot for this writer having spent some of my 80s drinking coffee in the land of Machu Picchu, pico sour and anticucho. I believe my first cappuccino was in a small Lima cafe that served buttery croissants on the side. Peru was well represented at the 2014 SCAA. Samples were a little challenge to get this year but after some awkward exchanges in spanish, I was able to secure a small bag of Cafe Villa Rica which when roasted to the edge of second crack, has provided a bien rico espresso. French press in this roasts' immediate future.
Cafe Villa Rica Peru
Rancillio has a large display featuring their Class 9 Xcelsius 2 - 4 group unit. It features individual profiling (temperature control with each group head). There's no denying it is an impressive beast.
The folks at Wega came packing with their 2 group Vela lever pull. New to the US, this 400 watt lever also comes as a 3 group for higher volume shops. Someone must have seen that look I get when I'm around levers because they were more than welcoming in me pulling my own shot. It pulls smooth, not too hot and had the beans been a better roast, the shot would have been spot on.
The Tiamo booth was not short on style with their cold coffee droppers. These drip units would glam any counter top or shop setting.
Tiamo Cold Drip
. The Genesis Roaster folks have stepped up with their new Gene Cafe roaster which looked nothing short of a amusement park ride at the state fair. New features include 3D rotation and heat response and control.
Portland Roasting Coffee had a booth looked like a spa for coffee. It was complete with porta filter lights and natural old growth wood counter tops that made me just want to hang out and read poetry.
Portland Roasting Company
It was great seeing good friends like homebarista.com's Tom Chips at the Slayer booth. It was near impossible to get close but I managed to get a very tasty shot from the new commercial 1- group. Ain't it good to know the king. The Slayer 1-group comes in 110v or 220v, shot mirror, custom wood accents, dual boiler, flavor profiling and PID control and, and, and… yeah, it's like that.
The Slayer Booth
It was only appropriate I start the second day at the Pike Place market with crab shooters, raw oysters and World of Pasta.
Pike Place Market and World of Pasta
The second day was no less eventful but certainly packed crowd-wise. First booth to hit was Orphan Espresso to check out the Lido2. While everyone was busy snapping shots of Doug, it seemed to me that the backbone of oehandgrinders.com/Orphan Espresso needed her own feature. Barb Garrott had her hands full explaining the changes to the redesigned Lido. Grinders were sold out long ago to the faithful on homebarista.com but new stock is around the corner. On quick testing, I was really impressed with the grind (which I'm assured reaches all the way to turkish - yum) and smooth rotation. I could never work the Pharos but this grinder is a perfect fit for delicate hands.
A quick stop was made at Oakland's Mr. Espresso. I had to rub the Faema E61 for luck like the brass pig at Pike Place market. Last time the E61 brought me luck, I ended up with his old but no less sweet cousin - The Urania. Never know what happens this year.
I lost my mind when I saw my cups at the Lucaffe booth. I'll explain: I had a set of bluesman monikered espresso cups and had long searched for the style in cappuccino size. My jadeite cups are great but are no match for the heat retention of these thick walled cups so when sales manager Claudio Borgi dug up a couple, I paid like I stole them. His espresso was watery but his charm was infectious and I couldn't pull myself away. The stone cold truth is that these these trade shows can be full of suits and suits talk to suits. Sometimes it can take a little effort to get dialogue going with suppliers. Claudio was a refreshing change of pace. I left his booth feeling like I met a friend.
Ditting offers a 3 year warranty on their grinders.
Hario showed up with their hand crafted skateboard pour over and plenty of grinders.
Canadian vendor Espro brought their Toroid 2 steam pitcher and the Espro Press. As more of a french press than drip lover, I felt this one delivered. I did buy the Toroid 2 and I admit I'm not a fan of the lighter version but props to a company who knows how to hook up a fellow canuck.
Espro Toroid 2
The Trifecta was back.
Sputnik's shiny cousin showed up to the party, The Victoria Arduino.
Bkon was busy brewing teas for a crowd of watchers.
Bkon Tea Brew
By the time I hit the Synesso booth, I thought I had become delusional with all the espresso shots I had taken in that day, but no … this is a 9 group espresso machine. Yeah... 9 group.
Synesso 9 Group
And finally, the Beko Turkish coffee maker. I've had a lot of Turkish coffee over the years and I will say, this produces a cup worthy of the Turkish coffee name. Brew Turkish, add turkish delight.
Final thoughts: The SCAA event floor was double the size of past events (if memory serves) and two days couldn't cover it all. It would have been good to stay an extra day to cover some of the talks. I understand there was one on the chemistry of milk (in reference to its use in cappuccinos) that would have been interesting but as Richard Pryor said, "You can't have it all".
One would not expect to see Starbucks at a coffee trade show but they were present front and center. It spoke highly of their willingness to be part of an event not typically in their corporate mandate. The meeting to bring the huge coffee corporation to the SCAA must have been legendary.
While the showcase had some new and exciting items, I would have liked to have seen more new products as is typical in past trade shows. The big line up was just not there this year. I stayed in the downtown Seattle area and everywhere I went, I was welcomed to events outside the Convention Center. It was impressive that with all the other events that were going on that weekend, Seattle natives were aware and very positive about the presence of the trade show and its participants. Seattle really is a stellar host city for a coffee trade show. I believe the SCAA has found its home and Seattle has found its muse.