I recently worked with the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) to design their latest report illustrating sales trends among coffeehouses. This tool is developed by SCAA to give helpful insight into industry trends among specialty coffee retailers.
If you’re a coffeehouse retailer, the SCAA Coffeehouse Sales Trends Report a useful benchmarking tool available to assess the state of the retail environment and industry. Developed in conjunction with the Cleveland Research Company and a participating group of specialty coffee retailers, this report observes sales and cost trends including an examination of the competitive landscape, a 12 month outlook and category and segment trends. The report also provides an insider’s view of consumer preferences broken down by category as well as big picture trends compared to other foodservice segments. There is truly no better means of understanding your business within the larger industry than through the SCAA Coffeehouse Sales Trends Report. -SCAA
The SCAA is currently looking for more coffee retailers to participate in future reports. If you’re interested, visit the SCAA for more information.
Taking place this week in Vienna is Europe’s largest specialty coffee event, the SCAE’s World of Coffee. As I board a flight to head that way, I wanted to leave you with a long overdue recap of the SCAA Event, the USA’s largest specialty coffee event, which I attended in Portland this April.
Apart from being in Portland, arguably the coffee capital of the US, this years Event was full of great coffee, good food, old friends, new friends and a look at the direction specialty coffee is heading. I imagine Europe’s World of Coffee to be much of the same with a European twist. So take this as a preview of things to look for and expect to hear about during the week.
I landed a few days early for a prelude of Portland tourism and a chance to take in some of the stellar coffee shops around town, including Barista, Coava, and Heart (among others) before the impending coffee mobs arrived.
The Event itself began with a standing-room-only talk by James Hoffmann, who spoke about the importance of customer service and the need to change customer’s perceptions of what a coffee shop can be. Hoffmann argued for the need of this shift in order to create a market for higher priced coffee with ever more valuable experiences.
Following James’ talk, the morning continued with the much anticipated United States AeroPress Championship—where I filled a last minute vacancy and performed terribly—followed immediately by the World AeroPress Championship. The crowd was dense and the competition fierce, and Belgium held onto the WAC title for the 2nd year in a row.
The trade show floor stretched endlessly in any given direction. Many booths were of little interest, but the ones that caught my eye were usually displaying heaps of toys you’d like to take home with you. Hario may have won the award for the highest number of desirable products in one place.
My favorites were the redesigned syphon prototype, the electric glass kettle and a new 1 liter Buono. The primary focus of their booth, however, seemed to be the new V60 scale & timer unit—finally integrating two important tools into one device. This will certainly free up iPhones everywhere to post more brewing shots on Instagram.
Baratza also showed off their new set of metal burrs developed specifically for maximizing the consistency of filter grind settings on the Vario-W grinders.
Following La Marzocco’s booth, which was staffed with star baristas on lovely machines, serving a rotation of delicious coffees, the most popular place to be was Alpha Dominche, tucked away in a far corner of the showroom floor.
All of the buzz and the beauty surrounding their machine won them a much deserved award for “Best New Product.” (Nice article & interview with them on CoffeeGeek)
One reoccuring trend that showed up in various booths throughout the event was a selection of new high-end home brewers, with a focus on water temperature stability and improved coffee saturation. From the already released Bonavita and Bodum autodrip machines to the new Behmor Brazen, Technivorm seems to finally have some legitimate competition (however the Moccamaster is still the best looking by far).
I also had the pleasure of meeting Dave and Dave, the creators behind the Kickstarter sensation Coffee Joulies, which I cynically previewed before they were even a commercial product. Dave was delightful nonetheless and gave me a complete and honest walk through of the benefits and limitations of the product.
As long as Joulies work as described (in a travel thermos), I can see a use for their intended market—of which I am not a part. Despite my skepticism, Dave gave me a set to take home. If I can discover any other useful functions, apart from a long commute or miserable days in a coffeeless office sipping from a thermos, I’ll be sure to share my thoughts.
One of the mornings, I also took part in a cupping of Robusta coffee, organized by Andrew Hetzel. I’d never tasted Robusta coffee apart from its use in bitter espresso blends, so I took the opportunity to try something new.
Overall, the experience was pretty torturous to my palette, but I was surprised by some of their sweet and intense aromas. Of the six coffees on the table there was one highlight, a Robusta peaberry, which was surprisingly pleasant—until it wasn’t.
Alongside the fully packed trade show hall, the United States Barista Championship and Brewer’s Cup were also taking place. After months of regional competitions, the most talented baristas from around the country were all competing for the chance to represent the US this week in Vienna at the World Barista Championship.
Katie Carguilo (who was excited to say the least) of Counter Culture Coffee won a very close barista competition and is currently competing in Vienna, along with Andy Sprenger of Ceremony, who won the US Brewer’s Cup for the second year in a row.
Of all the things to see at these gatherings, the most valuable part always ends up being the people. With the proliferation of Twitter in the industry, you can finally meet those you’ve been sharing advice and arguing with online throughout the year.
Jason Dominy greeted me with his infamous bear hug and attempted to convert my opinions of the Clever (sorry Jason, still unconvinced), while Keaton Violet kept me entertained and filled with beard envy. Joyce from Baratza was a joy to talk with, along with so many others. The list of people I met is long, but each person played a role in making the event another one to remember.
I’m looking forward to an equally great week of coffee and friends in Vienna. If you couldn’t make it to either event this year, make one of them a part of your 2013 plans—you’ll be glad you did.
All coffee aside, Portland is an absolutely incredible city to visit.
After a long day of back-to back AeroPress competitions here in Portland, a new World AeroPress Champion has been crowned—Charlene De Buysere from Belgium. Charlene’s triumph continues Belgium’s reign after last year’s win by Jeff Verellen.
All of the participants competed with the same washed Ethiopian Sidamo from Heart Coffee Roasters and following a passionate effort by the final two ladies, Charlene’s was decided to be the best. After receiving her trophy, Charlene thanked Alan Adler for inventing such a wonderful coffee machine and told him how excited she was about winning a ticket to the Nordic Barista Cup.
The runner up was Ingri Margrethe Johnsen from Norway who came in second place—followed by Emil Ericsson from Sweden, who came in third.
Congratulations to all the finalists and thanks to the organizers, judges and sponsors who made this the biggest and best WAC yet. Next year we’ll need bleachers as well.
The upcoming SCAA Event will bring about many things—great parties, good friends, a new US Barista Champion and a first hands-on look at some of the industries newest products. Topping my list of must-see/touch/try is the Alpha Dominche Steampunk.
What looks like the futuristic love child of a Linea 2 and Bunn Trifecta, is a customizable, PID controlled brewing system that functions like a modern day syphon. With four separate chambers, you’re able to create different profiles and brew four coffees at once.
With just a few quick taps on the touch screen, the barista customizes the STEAMPUNK brewing process to optimize the flavor of each beverage. The anticipation then begins. The customer is treated to a dazzling theatrical presentation as the STEAMPUNK’s gleaming glass crucibles fill with swirling steam. The barista then places the ground coffee on the piston and plunges it into the crucible. The grinds whirl and dance as they’re agitated and aerated by the millions of tiny bubbles. At the barista’s command, the liquid coffee is pulled by vacuum through a specially designed ultrafine photo-milled metal filter, and the dark brown elixir streams gracefully into the awaiting cup.
The Steampunk allows a barista t0 adjust the temperature, time, volume and agitation of each brew before manually plunging the coffee grounds into the chamber. The company claims that The Steampunk will offer enhanced flavor extraction that surpasses currently existing brew methods—if so, I look forward to tasting the results.
If you’ll be at SCAA, find The Steampunk at Booth 10085 or visit Alpha Dominche.
With summer finally arriving in places other than Florida and Southern California, there comes a growing desire for afternoon iced coffee on a sunny back porch. So in celebration of the warm weather, I’d like to introduce you to the Hario Fretta—a V60 contraption sitting upon a long funneled diffuser filled with ice. This may be the summer’s hottest new way to make cool coffee (I really said that). The method is simple, brew a double dose of coffee as you would in a V60, which is then cooled and partially diluted as it melts the ice in the diffuser. Once the brewing is finished, you pour the concentrate over ice again to chill and dilute even more, then enjoy.
While I was at the SCAA Expo in Houston, Ian(?) from Lamill Coffee in Silverlake, CA was giving demos of the product all week. He was brewing an Ethiopian that stood out as one of my favorite coffees from the event. It maintained a much more complex flavor profile than I’m used to with iced coffee and didn’t seem flat or muted. Even though it may be less attractive and more sexually suggestive than the AeroPress, I was impressed. I could definitely put one to use this summer.
In recent years, the more popular method of brewing iced coffee has been with a Toddy cold brew system or similar. Cold-brewing creates a coffee concentrate at room temperature which can be stored in the refrigerator or poured over ice. This method can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours to brew and creates a very smooth and low acid coffee, which many people love. However, not everyone plans that far ahead and I personally really enjoy acidity and brightness in my coffee—even when iced.
The Hario Fretta solves a couple issues I have with cold brew systems. First, it only takes as long to make as a V60 pourover, and the coffee is immediately passing over ice—cooling it down in the process. So if you forgot to set up your Toddy the night before, you can still enjoy a refreshing glass of iced coffee in the middle of the day. Second, this method uses hot water to brew, which brings out the brightness I often miss in cold brew iced coffee. For less than $40, its a fair price if you drink a lot of iced coffee. Though after seeing how it works, you could probably rig up a similar device of your own with a standard V60 and a trip to the hardware store.
United States Barista Championship
The last day of the SCAA Expo is also the culmination of the United States Barista Championship, where a new king was crowned by Mike Phillips, 2010 US Barista Champ and current World Champion. Pete Licata from Honolulu Coffee Company took the title and will represent the US at the World Barista Championship in Bogota, Colombia this June. Pete has won four regional titles, including two Midwest and two Southwest Championships, making him a fairly experienced veteran in the world of barista competitions. All of his hard-work has finally paid off, giving him and his impressive beard a shot at the world title. Congrats to Pete and good luck in June!
My second day of the SCAA Expo began with a lecture titled “Craft Brewing by Hand in a Café Environment.” The session consisted of 4 industry professionals discussing their individual brew-by-the-cup environments and their advice on creating or switching to a similar program. The panel included Kyle Glanville (Intelligentsia & Coffee Common committee member), Jay Caragay (Spro Coffee), John Piquet (Caffe d’Bolla) and Anthony Rue (Volta Coffee). Each panel member shared thoughts supporting the decision to only offer brew-by-the-cup coffee—not that I needed convincing—and discussed the benefits of doing it.
A few memorable quotes from the session:
“The Japanese treat both their food and drinks with great respect.” -John P.
“Define a standard of excellence for your company and stick to it. You will be rewarded.” -John P.
“Empower and trust your staff.” -Anthony R.
“When the customer leaves, we want them to be stoked on their experience.” -Jay C.
“Batch brewing in conjunction with by-the-cup will force by-the-cup to take a back seat. -Kyle G.
“Coffee under $2 should be over—pronto.” -Kyle G.
“You have to be fearless when you go all-in with by-the-cup brewing. -John P.
The second session I attended was about developing a social media strategy for your business. Tara Shenson, New Media Manager of the SCAA, was extremely engaging and delivered a pretty comprehensive talk on new media tools. Though I didn’t learn anything new—Tara warned it was a beginner’s course—I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I had a number of fine coffees this morning at the Counter Culture pop-up café. The sun-dried Sidamo was pulling pretty fantastic as a single origin espresso.
The Bunn Trifecta was in full effecta next to the Brewers Cup stage. I stopped by for a demo and a cup of the Hacienda la Esmeralda that’s being used by the competitors.
I spent the second half of the day watching the remaining USBC semi-finalists compete. My top pick, Sam Purvis from Coava Coffee, sadly didn’t make the final six.
However, the North Central Regional Champ, Ryan Knapp from MadCap Coffee (and owner Trevor Corlett)—who were both favorites of mine—have both advanced to the Finals. Good luck guys!
After the finalists were announced, about 400 attendees headed to Saint Arnold Brewing Company for dinner and some fine Texas beer thanks to the guys at Cuvée Coffee.
Another full day of good coffee and friends at the SCAA Expo has come to an end.
Today was my first day at the 2011 Specialty Coffee Association of America Expo in Houston. It’s the year’s biggest coffee event and host to the United States Barista Championship and Brewers Cup. There’s coffee pouring from every corner of the convention center, more tote bags than you could ever fill and rows upon rows of syrups, smoothies and tea that seem a bit out of place.
This being my first coffee expo, I quickly learned the best thing about the event wasn’t the free swag or tables of new products—it’s the people. The incredibly passionate people who make up the specialty coffee industry. To be surrounded by people who inspire you and continue to push the limits of what they do in search of ways to be better, is an incredibly energizing feeling—though it could just be the caffeine.
I spent the first part of the morning tasting coffee from around the world at the “Best of Origin” area. There were about 12 coffees to try and I made it through about half of them—the coffee from Ka’u Hawaii surprised me the most, it was quite nice. Next I sat through a lecture about developing a training program for baristas, but found most of it to be pretty basic, common sense stuff.
After the lecture I met up with 2/3 of Handsome Coffee Roasters and hit the showroom floor to do some window shopping and make the rounds. Here are some highlights.
First stop was the La Marzocco booth to try a shot of Ryan Wilbur’s competition espresso, pulled on a Strada.
Checked out a demo of the EsproPress, a microfilter press pot which created a surprisingly clean cup.
Discovered the company responsible for producing some of the nicest coffee packaging on the market, including Intelligentsia, Verve and Social Coffee Co. Now I’ll be prepared when I’m finally hired to design someone’s coffee bags (hint).
Got to see the new Baratza Essato, a weight-based grinding system. Cool, but definitely overkill for a home-brewer. I can see the benefits for a small volume café, but I think it ultimately has limited use.
Had a cup of Square Mile’s Santa Lucia on the new Kalita pour-overs that Nick Cho recently started importing.
A Hario hot-brew iced coffee maker. While it’s pretty clunky looking, it creates a nice cup of coffee. The clear plastic funnel is filled with ice, and a double strength V60 is brewed on top of it—melting the ice and cooling the coffee simultaneously. Unlike cold-brew systems it retains some of the coffee’s brightness that I enjoy, but is often stripped away.
Some new products from Hario. I love the double walled press pot. Beautifully designed, with wood where most companies would use plastic.
A couple of former World Barista Champions (Stephen Morrissey & James Hoffmann) announcing the semi-finalists of the USBC.
The Championship trophies made by Reg Barber. Two more days before we know who they’ll belong too. Congrats to all the semi-finalists and good luck!
The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) is the leading trade organization for the specialty coffee industry. Through education, training, resources and business services they strive to improve the industry as a whole. Each year thousands gather for their annual expo, which showcases the newest products, awards the best in the industry, leads training workshops, and holds the United States Barista Championship.
With over 8000 attendees last year and nearly 750 booths, there was a lot to see! This year, The Event will be held in Houston at the end of April and I expect it to be even bigger—because everything is in Texas.
Your’s truly is now registered and I’m excited to announce that I’ll be there bringing you all the latest coffee love straight from the source. If you’re in the industry and plan on being in attendance, get in touch so we can grab a drink.