I have a lot to report on sustainability and certification issues from the SCAA conference, but it will be doled out over the coming weeks. Here, I thought I’d like to give some quick impressions of some of the most notable things we encountered.
Best origin booth: Guatemala. Many origins had booths, most with green or brewed coffee samples and lots of literature. The biggest, most colorful, and most informative was, hands down, Guatemala’s. The display really focused on the fact that nearly all of their coffee is shade grown, and preserves biodiversity and birds. This information is duplicated in a terrific book available at the display called The Green Book. Here are a couple of the display panels.
Best tag line: “Don’t take coffee from strangers” — Crop to Cup. That sums up a piece of advice every consumer should take to heart. Crop to Cup Coffee Company is a small coffee roaster with really direct relationships with farmers; on their web site you get very thorough information.
Coolest people I finally got to meet: Peter Giuliano and Kim Elena Bullock from Counter Culture Coffee. I’ve had so many good conversations and learned so much from the folks at CCC, it was a great pleasure to finally meet Peter and Kim in person.
Best coffee I tried: Mystery Coffee #103 from the Roaster’s Guild Coffee of the Year competition. Yesterday alone, I tried at least 20 coffees. And I don’t mean tasting and spitting out, I mean drinking. I can’t say I really recommend this strategy (I ended up both overtired and jittery), but it was interesting! The coffee I liked the best, as far as one I would like to drink daily, was #103 at the coffee of the year competition. Conference attendees got to sample and vote on the top ten finalists.
With all this coffee, perhaps this category deserves a couple of subcategories.
Best Coffee I Tasted Made on a Clover: Intelligentsia’s Organic Anjilanaka, Bolivia. There were three Clover coffee brewers at the show, and we tried coffees made on all of them.
Best espresso shot: Finca Vista Hermosa at the Barista Guild’s booth. Light roast and crazy citrus zing made this not your usual espresso.
Most interesting thing that I didn’t think I’d care about: U.S. Barista Championships. Once you started watching baristas compete, it was kind of addictive. Beats watching a poker championship. This is Belle Batista of Aldo Coffee, the Mid-Atlantic Regional winner. She didn’t make the finals.
Best non-coffee product name: Two Leaves and a Bud. I used to be an avid tea drinker.