Earlier this month I attended the Global Specialty Coffee Expo in Seattle, WA, which is the slightly rebranded version of the big event historically put on by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (now the Specialty Coffee Assocation). This year I had some work to do related to the Roasters Guild Education Committee, which I've been serving on and is hard at work pulling together materials for the Specialty Coffee Association's new roasting curriculum to be launched later this year. I also had the honor of being one of the judges for the United States Roaster Championship competition and needed to talk with some people on the exhibit floor for various reasons. As usual, I had some people recognize me from the Internet and ask to take a picture with me (being a celebrity is weird like that) and I got to have a lot of great conversations with people I don't see often enough.
One thing that I was particularly excited about was a new project that I've been working on. It's a weekly video series where each episode features one tip likely to be relevant for someone working in coffee and each episode only lasts one minute. I'm calling it 60 Second Coffee Tips and while I'm not launching that until May 1, I had the first episode on my phone so that I could show it to people. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, so it was exciting to see that I wasn't the only person who thought this was a good idea.
Competition judging was interesting. I was not scheduled to judge Mark Michaelson (who won the competition) on either of his rounds so I don't know how his coffees were, but I did judge at least one round for most of the rest of the top six (out of 13) finishers. It was interesting hearing the different approaches used and tasting a nice variety of coffees in the selected coffee round. At least one competitor used a control technique that I described in my most recent YouTube video (though he may have developed the technique independently) and another competitor described a technique that suggests a new feature that might be useful to add to Typica to make that sort of approach to roasting easier to accomplish. I'll write more about that if I implement it and if it still seems plausibly useful after testing it out in a production environment.
While my work load was relatively light compared to some years (I thought I was scheduled to teach some roasting classes, but that didn't get communicated out of committee so that time was freed up), I did not get much time to take in Seattle. I only got out to a few of my favorite coffee shops in the city and more traditional touristy stuff didn't happen this year, but I had a good time, learned a few things, saw some interesting new products (and the continuation of some trends that I'm really not a fan of), and have come back energized to continue with my various projects in coffee.