Beauty and Business in Budapest

I choose events to attend by organisation, content offered and participants—not by location. But I must admit, the Specialty Coffee Association’s (SCA) selected city for its World of Coffee 2017, has long been on my “travel bucket list.” From venues to vistas, Budapest, Hungary, provided a stunning backdrop for WOC 2017.

This year’s event, the second organised by the new SCA (the Global Specialty Coffee Expo took place in Seattle in April), took place 13-15 June at Hungexpo Fair Centre. Having attended several prior WOC events, I find these shows offer a more relaxed pace than GSCE, which can have a frenzied—yet always fun—vibe. The trade show kicked off with a welcome reception on 12 June at the New York Café at the Boscolo Hotel, which offered old world design grandeur at its best. A dinner cruise on the Danube River was held on 14 June, where attendees could view many landmarks such as Buda Castle (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and the parliament building, while dining, drinking and dancing.

But it was not all parties and sightseeing—WOC 2017 offered a plethora of educational lectures, open discussion sustainability forums, cuppings, competitions, and the opportunity to view new products and conduct business. Paul Stack, president of the SCA, said this year’s WOC was “the biggest to date. We have 200 exhibitors from around the world and 100 countries represented in attendees. The future of coffee is on show here in Budapest.”

One of the top ten coffee producers in the world, Mexico, was named this year’s Portrait Country for both the GSCE and WOC. The ambassador from Mexico to Hungary, who was present at the show noted, “Mexico is coming out of devastating effects of the roya epidemic but it is under control and production is growing again.”

There were cuppings held every day featuring a variety of Cup of Excellence-winning coffees from Mexico. “Cupping is the heart of what the SCA does,” said Ric Rhinehart, executive director of the SCA. “At this show, producers of coffee can meet consumers of coffee.”

The SCA also launched Re:co Interactive at WOC in Budapest, which was an enclosed space on the show floor that featured three days of sensory discussions salons, workshops, panels, presentations and sensory explorations in an exclusive engagement and connection space.

WOC in Budapest also featured four World Championship Competitions. The 2017 World Champions are: Latte Art—Arnon Thitiprasert from Thailand; Brewers Cup—Chad Wang from Taiwan; Coffee in Good Spirits—Martin Hudak from Slovakia; Tasters Champion—Lok Chan from Hong Kong; and Cezve/Ibrik—Karthikeyan Rajendram of UAE.

World of Coffee 2018 will take place 19-21 June in Amsterdam. I may have said that I do not choose events by location, but I may have to make an exception with next year’s WOC…

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