Every year the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) holds SCAA Expo. This is the largest and most important coffee convention in the United States. Commonly referred to as “The Event” it is where national and international coffee professionals gather for four days. The convention is filled with lectures, classes, parties, an extensive exposition hall and the national championships for the Barista Guild, Brewers Cup and Roaster’s Guild. Typically held in Seattle, our nation’s coffee mecca, this year’s expo took place in Atlanta, Georgia for the first time. To find out details about this exciting event SDCN’s Pablo Lara sat down with Alice Peters, Green Coffee Trader at Global Coffee Trading, which recently opened a beautiful space in San Diego’s Sorrento Valley. Peters is no stranger to SCAA Expo, this year’s being the third she attends. Freshly arrived from such a memorable experience we picked her brain to collect insights.
Who had the best beard?
Alice: Considerably way fewer beards than SCAA in Seattle, none that really stood out.
What was the most enriching lecture you were able to attend?
Alice: “Coffee Price Risk Management: Fundamentals, Global Markets and Volatility” by Julio Sera. This was part of the Lecture Series, a wonderfully curated series led by top industry leaders. Julio Sera is from the FC Stone Group in Miami, FL and has 12 years of experience in risk management. His words were eloquent, allowing him to explain complex systems in coffee price trends. Sera exposed the many variables in the C Market, everything from K cups to consumer demands and producer development.
Do you have a favorite drink from the exposition hall?
Do you have a standout origin or producer?
Alice: After a recent trip to Tijuana, Mexico I find myself very interested in this origin. I found that everyone promoting Mexican coffee was extremely nice and approachable. They were excited to share their coffee and I am looking forward to making connections with this producing origin and fast growing market.
Out of all the parties and networking events, where did you have the most fun?
Alice: Everyone seemed to end up at the Fair Trade party. They had a great venue and the energy was memorable. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like a night filled with salsa dancing and bartenders that do magic and play with fire. Our company, Global Coffee Trading, hosted a party at Alma Cocina. The networking here was very meaningful to me. We were able to be the bridge between producers and customers and having them meet was highly rewarding.
In regards to hospitality in Atlanta, I was mesmerized at every level. Everyone from the Uber drivers, waiters and store clerks demonstrated just how Southern hospitality goes above and beyond.
Out of all the competitions at Expo, which one captivated your interest the most?
Alice: The Roasters Guild Competition did it for me. It was a treat to be able to taste coffees roasted by the top six competitors. Each coffee was so unique; it must have been so difficult for the judges to assess with their gut. This is when extensive scoring sheets are necessary.
While strolling through the Expo floor did any particular booth or gadget catch your eye?
Alice: Everything at the Saint Anthony booth. The aesthetics of every coffee brewing tool was alluring. My favorite booth was that of Sweet Marias. They literally had a desk and some sticky notes. I like simple so according to me they did it right!
The Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta was a perfect fit for this event. There was plenty of space for everyone and breathing space between lectures.
The Expo is a great place to introduce new concepts and sustainability projects. What were your top initiatives?
Alice: Café Kreyol. An initiative that is bringing coffee from Haiti and pushing for development of specialty grade. Finca Salva Negra. A Nicaraguan experimental farm that is sustainable and executing scientific research of the highest level.
“Every year I come back to SCAA feels like a family reunion. Everyone gets to see old friends and meet new ones,” mentioned Peters.
As we wrapped our discussion, one important question remained:
How hot was Hotlanta?
Alice: “The weather was very pleasant, not too hot. All of the Seattle hipsters survived.”
Learn more about Global Coffee Trading by visiting their website. Their stunning office space in Sorrento Valley will also feature a coffee bar with amazing baristas. Be sure to pay them a visit!