Gigantic…Humongous! These are the first words that came to mind when walking the show floor and attending classes at the SCAA Conference & Exhibition that took place in Seattle, Washington April 15-18. At the beginning of the last day of the Conference, the attendee count was estimated at 9,500 and was expected to shoot past the 10,000 mark.
Hotels were booked up months in advance, and Seattle taxi cab drivers were ecstatic to shuttle us to the many parties and events around town. One driver told me he thought coffee people are “friendly and nice,” and another grew up on a coffee farm in Ethiopia.
People said they couldn’t possibly see all the people they intended to. One would walk the aisles, think they saw it all and then realize they had missed a whole section. I couldn’t cover the entire floor by myself… 300+ exhibitors and everyone was swamped. Educational sessions were jam packed.
The atmosphere was upbeat as always - roasters admiring equipment, talking shop right in the aisles, at the socials, at the sessions. The exchange of information at this Show is always amazing.
Special events were packed as always: Women in Coffee held their annual breakfast and presented Sunalini Menon with a lifetime achievement award.
The World Barista Tournament attracted international publicity in both television and print news. Held across the street from the Exhibition, the much anticipated finals at the WBC were standing room only.
The industry was delighted at the extraordinary and lasting growth of coffee, both in North America and globally. Coffee chains, with Starbucks of course in the lead, continue to spread internationally, with Asia as the hottest market today.
The aisles were especially teeming with semi-automatics, pods, capsules, single-serve machines, and every configuration of dietetic syrups, chocolates, and more. While pods were invented many years ago, all the pod-making, brewers and all suppliers have matured, presenting vastly improved and uniform, user-friendly machines for the commercial and home-use market.
Next year, the SCAA convenes in Charlotte, North Carolina, April 7-10.
It certainly has been a pleasure to watch such a splendid organization grow to reach such great heights.
Editor & Co-Publisher