Photos by Julie Rings, SDCN Social Media Manager. Words by Pablo Lara, SDCN Blog Editor & Chief.

It's Always Sunny in the Specialty Coffee scene of Southern California, with it's exciting growth in an area including Los Angeles, Inland Empire and San Diego.  An ever-growing number of roasters, coffee importers, equipment manufacturers and cafes create a community rich in creativity and quality.  Last Saturday the SDCN blog crew went up to CoffeeCon LA to experience lectures, tastings, and shop with coffee professionals and enthusiast from all over SoCal. 

Photo by Julie Rings. 

Photo by Julie Rings

First lets go shopping; we are in LA after all.  The convention took place at The Reef on south Broadway, an interesting facility dedicated to design, small entrepreneurs, makers and trade shows. The event was held indoors, giving it an urban feel. An entire floor was dedicated to booths where you could sample coffee roasted by some of the region’s best. Portola, Klatch, Bar Nine Collective, Healing Coffee Roasters, Foxy Coffee and James Coffee, to name a few, had tasting stations with retail available for purchase. 

Photo by Julie Rings. 

Photo by Julie Rings

Photo by Julie Rings.

Photo by Julie Rings.

Brewing equipment captivated event goers. Our favorites were the ultra sleek Stagg pour-over kettles by Fellow.  The modern design elevated this brewing tool from kitchenware to kitchen centerpiece. Everyone wanted to get their hands on one. Even Barista Champion Heather Perry of Klatch Coffee was using one to brew a Good Food Award winning Kenya. This original design innovated the traditional kettle with the addition of a built-in thermometer for that perfect extraction. 

Photo by Julie Rings.

Photo by Julie Rings.

Photo by Julie Rings.

Photo by Julie Rings.

Photo by Julie Rings.

Photo by Julie Rings.

Photo by Julie Rings.

Photo by Julie Rings.

Another crowd favorite was the Cafflano all-in-one coffee maker.  This portable coffee brewer, ideal for camping and biking, includes a manual burr grinder, kettle, basket and serving cup. At the booth you could experience this neat little gadget in action and pose questions directly to the manufacturers.  Even SCAA Director Ric Rhinehart walked away with one, a handy tool for the many conferences he attends. 

Photo by Julie Rings.

Photo by Julie Rings.

Certainly the mainstays of this event were the multiple educational lectures offered throughout the day by coffee professionals.  We were able to attend an origin-centered lecture by Mokhtar Alkhanshali and a tasting with Peter Giuliano. To learn about green coffee you had the opportunity to visit the InterContinental Coffee Trading booth and purchase industry literature at the SCAA booth. 

Rediscovering The Mocha Road – Specialty Coffee In Yemen:

If you follow coffee journalism you will remember that the most memorable story coming out of the SCAA Event 2015 was that of Mokhtar Alkhanshali and his weeklong journey from Yemen to Seattle.  As the civil war broke out in Yemen, Mokhtar was determined to flee the country in order to attend the world’s largest coffee convention to present Yemen’s coveted green coffee. Little did I know that we would be meeting Mokhtar himself and learn more about his increadible journey and the dedication he has for improving the Specialty Coffee sector of Yemen. 

  Photo by Julie Rings.

 

Photo by Julie Rings.

Taste Like An Expert- SCAA Symposium Director Peter Giuliano:

Earlier this month the SCAA along with the World Coffee Research Institute launched the new Flavor Wheel. Peter Giuliano took a group of 100 attendees through the fascinating world of professional cupping. The combination of lecture and tastings allowed for a clear understanding of characteristics in fragrance/aroma, acidity, body and flavor. A team of seven volunteers and Gold Cup Curtis batch brewers cranked out a total of four different coffees of distinct origins and processes. These included a washed Colombia from Nariño, a natural Colombia from Huila, a washed Kenya and a Sumatra. The tasting exercise was followed by an interactive discussion on flavor notes. Thank you Peter for energizing us for the ride back home! 

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