It took me two taxis, two planes, one bus and one train, but I got there - to the lovely seaside resort town of Rimini, Italy, on the Adriatic Coast - in the middle of winter. And so did at least 350 other industry members, in order to attend the SCAE (Speciality Coffee Association of Europe) 3rd World Specialty Conference & Exhibition, held in conjunction with The Italian Food and Beverage Exhibition.
Thousands of people attended this exhibition which included an amazing variety of beverages and food, with more than 20 booths making up the SCAE exhibition area. Classes and seminars were held throughout the four days of the Show - guided cuppings and seminars on marketing strategies, brewing technology, espresso markets and emerging markets represent just a sampling of the many classes offered at the Show. SCAE is no idle Association - its steadfast intent to educate industry members and consumers is absolutely remarkable.
The SCAE introduced two new competitions at this event - the Brazil Late Harvest (Brazil Naturals) Competition and a Cupping Competition. Members could hone their cupping skills and finally proper attention could be paid to a high quality bean - the Brazil Natural.
SCAE’s Barista Tournament continues to evolve with not only the Italians competing in this specific event, but baristas from all over the world helping and learning from each other. For three days, Italy’s best baristas battled to win the right to represent Italy at the World Barista Championship finals in Trieste this coming June. The ease, speed and varieties of espresso drinks that I was served during the show were truly extraordinary. I was taken aback at the passion and vitality of these baristas, and their quest for ever-improved coffee beverages.
I saw passion. I saw vision. Each member attending that Show, whether it was Patrick Bewley (Ireland), Vinko Sandalji (Italy), Tone Elin Liavaag (Norway), or the growers from Brazil and other producers - they all are intent on securing a better future for coffee.
Alf Kramer led several of the educational sessions and challenged the audience to pursue not only the definition of specialty coffee but, most importantly, ethics within the coffee business. He reiterated the need to address origin blends such as Kona and other specific origins that have so little of the labeled coffee contained in the actual product.
It is these men and women that help this industry continue its quest for quality and its quest for survival
Thank you SCAE, and may you continue on your well-guided path.
Editor & Co-Publisher