Coffee Conference Melancholia

It is time once again for the SCAA convention, this time down in happening Long Beach, CA. Yes, the Long Beach near the oil fields, near the port, near L.A.; the Long Beach everyone talks about. (maybe I can sneak over to San Pedro for some excitement). I must confess a certain dread. It’s a massive swarm of people from all over the globe, and Iowa too. And 94% of them have absolutely no relevance to what we do here at Sweet Maria’s on a daily basis. Well, the coffee business has never been much about coffee, sadly. And to the extent that it is, this includes a wide range of interests from flavoring extracts, to shiny designer accessories, from those hapless puck-polishers with sage-infused micro-foam to powdered chai latte pushers. Then there is the Coffee Cognoscenti, the group of SCAA insiders with rows of badges pinned to their sleeves, running around to speeches, forums, panels and workshops. Invariably, it’s those who are selling something (themselves), either directly as a consultant, or with an eye to climbing the rungs in the coffee industry, or for general status. They have something to gain by appearing knowledgeable in front of others. And there there is me and the rest of my ilk, mildly traumatized, skulking around, keeping our heads down, trying to avoid conversations and glean what little there is from the trade show floor. I know, it’s probably the same in your industry … conventions are much alike. If you were on the student board in high school, if you went to the pep rallies, if you got your picture in the yearbook a few times, you probably have no problem with conventions. So hurrah for the coffee convention, the generic high-profile keynote speaker, the ribbon-wearers and panelists at “Pushing the Right Button: Choosing a POS System” and “Location? Predicting Potential Business Success”. I will be issuing a fascinating report on “Dust-bunny Size and Location in the Convention Hall Foyer”

postscript: my grumpy 2007 scaa report has no pictures of dust bunnies, sadly. -Tom

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