I went to the SCAA in Seattle and all I got was this lousy pen

I went to the SCAA in Seattle and all I got was this lousy pen …
One: I came in just after noon, checked in to the Crowne Plaza (the extra “e” means it’s fancy, too fancy for me at least) and successfully avoided the SCAA show for the remainder of the day. One down, three more to go. There is absolutely nothing to do in Seattle so I went to visit Sam, the Art museum. And the best thing I saw was this little hunched-over woman with dirty clothes and a walker, copying down the title and description/explanation of a particular Chinese photographer’s work. That was neat. Art was doing it’s job. Then I met up with Alchemist John and Penny for dinner and a beer. Oaxaca Charlie was a no-show.

Who’s your mummy? Seattle means an obligitory visit to Sylvester at the Curiousity Shop

Army men, army babes. Seattle is a great place to stock up.

Catholic Seamens’ Club, no Protestant Seamen allowed

I don’t get it, I like the painting.
Two: I get up too early and think too much. Finally I go to the show for the 9 am session, believing that the coffee/pastry buffet will be an adequate breakfast. It isn’t. The muffins have vanished. The coffee is from Krispy Kreme. Between the next two panel discussions I manage to get a muffin, and I regret it. Coffee people complain about going to nice restaurants, eating good food, and being served bad coffee. Here we come to the largest coffee convention in the world, we the people who know fine coffee, and we get bad food and bad coffee. I wouldn’t complain so much, but I know what this convention is costing me. It’s a lot. The morning panels are good though: Emerging Coffee Origins is as enlightening in it’s content as it is in it’s form. The 4 presenters representing Australia, Ecuador, Honduras and East Timor could not be more different, some giving the usual “we have great respect for the environment and the people” and others being more sincere. It seems that in Timor the coffee tree suffers if you care for it, so it is best just to ignore it all year and just show up when the cherry turns red. Sounds good to me. Next up is Schomer’s presentation on espresso, and he has knowledge, flair, a sense of humor, and a healthy level of self-consciousness. He handles the questions with great style to keep the flow going, in a way that lets you know he really cares about everybody in the room “getting it”, his take on espresso, and taking something useful home. He is managing is hero status well … after all, someone has made David Schomer underwear. That really means something. Next it’s time to hit the floor, and 5 hours later my feet are ready to call a general strike. I saw all the home roast folks that had come in for the show, a few like Bob from way out East, Ben from the mid west, others from less exotic locales. Nice to see Jim again, with a beard! (It sook a second to recgnize you). Nice to meet Cia Smith too, altie from way way back …probably the first Kona web site selling green direct to home roasters and a damn fine Kona at that! My sister has come up from Portland for dinner and to hang out. I was supposed to go to a 6 pm reception and a dinner at the Hilton, but it’s not going to happen. We join a small group for dinner at a bistro and some beer afterwards. It’s late.

David Kastlehoff; he’s very popular in Germany, I hear.

Scott Reed. Note the tasteful t-shirt there… paid product placement, of course

A fine Velvis

Super D of The Stumptown, now owned by Chuck Dukowski to settle the lawsuit.
Three: I got fooled for breakfast. I walked into a place that heated up precooked eggs in a microwave, served it on a store bought bun with 2 slices of hormel sliced turkey lunchmeat on top. The meek will be served lousy food, and they will not complain. I was late to the Roasting Defects seminar. The door was blocked by an overflowing crowd. People want information, real information. They want to know what they might be doing wrong. They want to fix it. They also don’t want to admit it. This is business, and anyone can hang a shingle and call themselves a roaster … well, it hangs around your neck really, and your good reputation is all that keeps it from snapping your head off. People invest a lot, perhaps their retirement savings, in opening a small roastery. You don’t want to admit you don’t know. But you don’t get far unless you can be honest, with yourself at the minimum. We need a coffee confessional. Anyway, I went to the Pro-Bourbon rally session, where everyone believes that Bourbon cultivar coffees are as exciting as viagra. They have a point, but it’s so easy to be wrong when it comes to coffee and cultivars that it is better to make your point softly. This isn’t wine; varietals don’t influence the cup as they do in viniculture. Next up, Paul Songer had a great presentation about Descriptive Cupping. Then I go out to the floor to cover all the aisles I failed to get to on Saturday. I finished looking over the floor, taking special note of some of the booths I considered the most ridiculous. Vendors will do anything for attention. The more novel their attempt to get you to look, the better their product must be, eh? The espresso/candy/chips vending machine seems like a winner. The “electric barista” has it’s strong point too… basically an electric frothed milk dispenser. It was placed tactfully next to the “barista guild” booth. There’s a guild for everything now. I am starting the rugulach guild. Any takers? I met up with a Brasilian friend who brought 2 dozen of our new Espresso Monkey demitasse cups, a preview of the full shipment that will come in some conceivable future. Loaded with cups, it was time to hit the hotel. I was ready for a nap but the Stumptowners convinced me it was time for a sandwich and a beer. Then I caught a couple hours of sleep, afterward an evening of a few PBRs (it’s the Northwest, a clue) with Intelligentsia folks and others, and a lot of ridiculous conversation at the unofficial SCAA hangout, a bar called Cyclops.

MMM… I hear Kona is so good, even when Kanned!

Probatino, son of Probat, lust-worthy

All in one espresso machine and candybar/chip vending, the best idea at the show.

My favorite flavor is Earthy. This is the best thing a flavor company has ever produced, a cup-training tool, and makes up a bit for all the other evil they do. Can I get Cheese Flavored Coffee, Please?
Four: That was it for me. There was really nothing else for me to see, no one else to meet up with. I changed my ticket for an earlier flight and, of course, the Alaska Airlines flight left a mere 2 hours late. I had to do the roasting that night, around 160 Lbs. And tomorrow, I go pick up the Diedrich IR-12, but that is another story! Of course, there were many fine things at the SCAA, but it takes too much damn energy to try to do everything, so you can only deal with what is in front of you. And of that, there sure is a high noise-signal ratio. There’s a big emphasis on espresso and baristas, and that’s fine except that I did not enjoy a single espresso I tasted at the show. Maybe that’s me, but when I came back to the home base here in Emeryville, and made a double on my Andreja of Liquid Amber, I felt that it was the best shot I had in a week. Batdorf’s La Trinidad Mexican was a nice bright cup, even though I saw Scott Merle wince when I said I liked it (do you ever think your own coffee is at it’s best?) Okay, I am a grump. Really, I enjoyed the SCAA and the trip was $1500 well spent. I mean, how many times in your life do you get to visit Sylvester?

UCC vacuum-brewing coffee
with halogen bulbs – neat.

Hot, local Seattle Artists must express themselves,
and in fact, I think the undergroung Biscotti Guild
might be responsible for this…
2006? North Carolina? Yep, I’ll be there…



This page is authored by Tom Owen and Sweet Maria’s Coffee, Inc. and is not to be copied or reproduced without permission