Specialty Coffee Expo breaks attendance record

Approximately 17,000 coffee and tea professionals from over 85 countries gathered for the first time in Chicago, IL, USA for the thirty-fifth annual Specialty Coffee Expo, North America’s largest coffee trade show and host of the World Coffee Championships. The Expo owned and produced by the Specialty Coffee Association, saw a 23% increase in attendance from the previous largest show which took place in 2019, and an exhibit hall featuring 602 companies, the most to ever participate in the history of the event.

Diamond Sponsor Sanremo Coffee Machines, Platinum Sponsor Pacific Foods Barista Series and the Portrait Country Guatemalan Coffees were instrumental in offering a dynamic three-day event where attendees had access to new products and equipment, an inspiring and motivating education programme with over 50 lectures, scientific poster sessions, workshops, a Cupping Exchange, and several networking events.

Specialty Coffee Expo offered two new features areas. The Green Coffee Connect programme, sponsored by Barista Attitude, provided interactive programming for anyone selling or buying green coffee. In addition, the coffee industry retail buyers had an opportunity to gain access to the Retail Buyers Lounge designed to provide a dynamic opportunity for retail buyers to network, conduct meetings, and explore potential business partnerships with exhibitors.

The new Sustainable Expo, held in partnership with Caravela Coffee, sponsored by Pacific Foods Barista Series, and Barista Attitude inspired positive change within the coffee industry including planting 6,000+ trees, supporting 150+ farms, and offsetting 1,600-2,000 tons co2.

Attendees also enjoyed several highly anticipated and long-standing interactive features including the Best New Product Competition, Coffee Design Awards, Cupping Exchange, and Roaster Village. There were several awards programmes held during the Specialty Coffee Expo.

The World Coffee Championships were held in the US for the first time since 2019, with the World Brewers Cup (WBrC) and World Cup Tasters Championship (WCTC) taking place at the Specialty Coffee Expo. The WBrC is a showcase of the artistry and skill behind hand-brewed filter coffee, while the WCTC celebrates cuppers who demonstrate speed, accuracy, and expertise in distinguishing taste differences in specialty coffees — with results revealed right in front of massive crowds. Both events are annual events that are the culmination of local and regional qualifiers, hosted by sanctioned Competition Bodies around the globe.

2024 World Cup Tasters Championship: (Top Sponsors: Porland, Water Drop Filter, Puly Caff)

  1. Dionatan Almeida, Brazil
  2. Aurore Ceretta, Germany
  3. Han Jong Lee, New Zealand
  4. Jonathan Rangel, Guatemala

2024 World Brewers Cup Championship (Top Sponsors: Brewista, Vivreau,1zpresso, Puly Caff.)

  1. Martin Wölfl, Austria
  2. Wataru Iidaka, Japan
  3. Ryan Wibawa, Indonesia
  4. Tom Hutchins, Australia
  5. Charity Cheung, France
  6. Jackie Tran, Czech Republic

The 2024 Sustainability Awards celebrated for-profit and non-profit companies that showcase innovation, collaboration, and positive impact across the entire coffee value chain.

The 2024 Sustainability Award winners are:

  • Non-Profit: Root Capital
  • For-Profit: Sancoffee.

2024 Best New Product Awards winners:

  • Commercial Coffee Preparation & Serving Equipment: Ground Control – “The New Ground Control”
  • Consumer Coffee Preparation & Serving Equipment: ZERNO – “Z1 v2”
  • Coffee Accessories: Acaia Corporation – “Astra”
  • Open Class: Grain Pro – “GrainPro Compostable Hermetic Pouch”
  • Specialty Non-Coffee Beverage Standalone: Explorer Cold Brew – “The Alchemist Dirty Chai Concentrate”
  • Specialty Coffee Beverage Additive: Noosh – “Noosh Barista Almondmilk Concentrate”

2024 Coffee Design Awards winners:

  • Branding: Coffein Coffee Co. (Designer – Dr. Jennifer “Kat” Bechkoff from Clovis, CA, USA
  • Spaces: Ministry of Roasters-Chiang Mai (Designer – Anuwat Kobnampetch from Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Packaging: Speckled Ax Wood Roasted Coffee (Designer – Murphy Empire from Portland, ME, USA

Retail Buyers Lounge Pitch Slam winner: Sam Schrup of AudienceTap: a Text-to-Buy platform for coffee brands & roasters.

The Specialty Coffee Association presents several events each year including World of Coffee Busan: 1-5 May 2024 which will feature the World Barista Championship: and World of Coffee Copenhagen: 27-29 June 2024 which will feature the World Latte Art, World Coffee In Good Spirits, World Coffee Roasting, and Cezve/Ibrik Championships. The 2025 Specialty Coffee Expo will be in Houston, Texas, USA 25-27 April 2025.

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