Every year, the specialty coffee industry comes together over a long weekend to learn, talk, engage, and network with others from across the country (and sometimes the world). Alternating between the east and west coast, this year's event took place April 19-22 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, WA.
Hosted by the Specialty Coffee Association, the event offers opportunities for a whole range of coffee professionals, from baristas to roasters, business owners to green coffee buyers. Mighty Good has been privileged to attend the Expo for the past seven years, bringing back the knowledge and insights gained to further improve our coffee roasting, brewing and serving.
The Expo consists of various classes for industry professionals to increase their knowledge, ranging from introductory courses on coffee processing to advanced barista certifications. Alongside all this are the finals of various coffee competitions, including the US Barista Championship and the US Brewers Cup, the winners of which go on to represent the United States at the world championships in Amsterdam.
There is also the celebrated Re:co Symposium, where the most influential minds in coffee science and research gather to discuss the state of coffee; topics this year included The State and Future of the Coffee Economy and Changing Tides: Building Diverse and Inclusive Coffee Communities.
Attending such events, much like the Roasters Guild retreats and trips to origin, are a way for Mighty Good to stay connected to the wider coffee world, to make new connections and learn new skills, that we can then bring back to our customers in Ann Arbor.
This year, alongside owners David and Nic, the Mighty Good delegation included Arbor Hills cafe manager Seth Taylor, barista Cara McDonough and production team member Trent Lytle.
Below they have shared some of their experiences.
David: Expo was full of exciting new ventures for me. There’s something new to learn each year and it’s also a great time to see people face to face.
As part of the newly united Coffee Roasters Guild Advisory Council, which joined the US and EU Roasters Guilds, we rolled out all our new branding and plans for the coming year. I will also be joining the Specialty Coffee Association Board as the representative from the Coffee Roasters Guild.
I also spent quite a bit of time teaching as I do each year. I had the opportunity to teach with Anne Cooper (Australia) and Rob Hoos (Portland), both at the forefront of roasting techniques and research on roasting systems.Their passion for coffee and roasting seems to know no bounds. It’s always inspiring to work with them.
Trent: I attended the new class 'Can You Taste the Roasting System?' The teachers did a great job at dispelling the myth that you can taste the difference between coffee roasters. I learned about roast profile matching and a new cupping technique to help measure consistency between batches.
Nic: One of the most interesting events I attended was a breakfast hosted by the International Women in Coffee Alliance where I listened to reports from the El Salvador and Rwanda chapters where there is significant and exciting investment in helping develop women-owned farms.
In general, it was thrilling to see so many women in attendance this year, representing the gamut from farmers and vendors to roasters and retailers.
(You can read more about the Women in Coffee Alliance here: https://www.womenincoffee.org/impact)
Cara: This was my first time at a coffee expo, so it was a little overwhelming. There's a lot to see and do, so I tried to squeeze in as much as possible. I learned a lot of new tricks and techniques from the class I took there, and really enjoyed representing Mighty Good Coffee at the La Marzocco and Synesso booths.
Seth: Attending the SCA Expo was an invaluable experience. I met people from all over world and from all different areas of the coffee industry. I would be impossible not to come away from such an event without a broadened perspective and a deeper, more thorough understanding of the work we do. It was also very reaffirming to see how well our coffee and our barista skills hold up alongside some of the best in the industry.
Needless to say, we're already looking forward to next year.