Coffee Cup
"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2017 - All rights reserved

Coffee Cup
149
2017 SCA Exhibition

Washington State Convention Center
April 21 through April 23


all text and photos 2017 - All rights reserved
SCA logo

skyline
The downtown Seattle skyline looking out over Puget Sound

  You may notice that I left off an "A" in "SCAA" up there. You may think that, but the organization is no longer called the "Specialty Coffee Association of America." The SCAA recently merged with the Special Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE), and the merge resulted in what is now the "Specialty Coffee Association." Let's do the math: SCAA + SCAE = SCA. In their own words, "The Specialty Coffee Association is a non-profit organization that represents thousands of coffee professionals, from producers to baristas all over the world. Built on foundations of openness, inclusivity, and the power of shared knowledge, we act as a unifying force within the specialty coffee industry – invested in creating a worldwide circle of like-minded professionals." You can read more about the merging of these two groups here. As to my opinion of their new logo seen in the title frame above, all I can say is that I expressed it to an SCA representative and will let you respond to them as you choose.

  I attended my first SCAA Exhibition back in 2002 in Anaheim. Back then I attended just on Saturday as a media person. This show in Seattle is my thirteenth, and it certainly makes for an interesting juxtaposition between then and now in terms of my experience. He who was once a home enthusiast and was well overwhelmed by what he saw is now well into his fourth year as a professional in the coffee industry. [Note: Please do not be overly impressed. "Professional" just means I am finally getting paid for what I do!]

My Attendance Record
2002 - 14th - Anaheim
2005 - 17th - Seattle
2006 - 18th - Charlotte
2007 - 19th - Long Beach
2008 - 20th - Minneapolis
2009 - 21st - Atlanta
2010 - 22nd - Anaheim
2011 - 23rd - Houston
2012 - 24th - Portland
2013 - 25th - Boston
2014 - 26th - Seattle
2016 - 28th - Atlanta
2017 - 29th (or the 1st exhibition for the "SCA") - Seattle

  As you may very well know by now, I am the Hottop USA customer service representative as well as their graphic artist (having created their website and owners manuals among other related tasks). Because of that I now spend most of my time at these exhibitions in the Hottop booth and so have limited opportunity to walk the floor for review purposes or to find items to feature and review here on my website. Beyond that, I had no assistant reporter this year, so all tasks fell at my feet. And after standing in the booth nearly all day, every day, and then walking the enormous show floor, by the time I returned to the motel room it felt like the responsibility fell not at, but on my feet!

  So here I am, once again, for my third time in Seattle for an SCA coffee exhibition. It has been a struggle leading up to this trip. Over the previous two weeks I spent a good amount of energy working on my wife's car (an oil change that a mistake put about two quarts of used oil on the garage floor, new front motor mounts after the oil change revealed the state of the old ones, front brake pads, replaced the vacuum brake booster, and a new master cylinder). I finished all that with one day to spare to get packed for the trip. The night before leaving I came down with a head cold that, thankfully, was fairly well gone on the morning I headed for the airport. But this isn't "Car! My Car.com," nor is it "All the Bad Days of My Life." Let's move on.

DAY 1
  People, and people, and more people! For the entire day the aisles were filled all over the exhibition hall. I cannot remember a show where there were that many people in the aisles, and particularly on a Friday. I went back twice to a booth with a device in which I was interested and was not able to get close enough to say hello!
  In the few periods where there were not a lot of visitors in my booth I tried to walk the floor. I wasn't able to see more than about half of it, and even then, the booths were all so jammed with visitors that I had few opportunities to talk to anyone about new products. I was able to say hello to some old friends though.

DAY 2 and 3
  Surprisingly, the crowds thinned out these two days. While still quite busy, it gave me more time to talk to the many Hottop customers whom I have assisted over the years. It is always great to hear from folks I have assisted through that connection. It also gave me more time to walk the floors, say hello to old friends and make new acquaintances. There were plenty of both! Two of particular note..

Burc and I

  Burc from Beko, the Turkish Coffee folks. I am the bald guy with the hat. I have introduced Burc in my review of the Beko automatic Turkish coffee maker. I have been using that device for some three years now, and it is one of my favorites methods of brewing. Beyond that, Burc and I conversed and I learned a bit more about Turkey's very interesting history.
 
The Jarretts

  And above we we see an entire coffee family! Those who have taken this coffee journey with me certainly know the Jarrett family, former owners and operators of Riley's Coffee. Barry was part of that "core" group on alt.coffee and has been roasting since before he was born as it has been in the family for, dare I guess, three generations. June is still very well known for her fudge (at least in our household) , and their daughter, Maddy, who was named after Madeleine Page. She knew good from "ucky" espresso at an age at which most of us were still little droolers. Madeleine Page was a delightful part of alt.coffee, and her light went out far too soon. You can read a small part of that story here.

 Another notable name which dropped by my booth was Greg Scace. If you have not met Greg, the "Scace Device" (see Scace1 and Scace 2) alone is enough of an introduction, but he was also part of that alt.coffee core group, and if you have an espresso machine with a PID installed, he certainly deserves a thank you from you.

  It is so difficult to remember everyone, but I absolutely must also include Marshall Fuss who is active as an attorney working with a number of entities in the specialty coffee world. Marshall was also active back "in the day" in alt.coffee.

  Beyond my employment responsibilities, and meeting up, even briefly, with old friends and making new ones, my secondary task is to try to introduce my readers to any new or interesting consumer items.
  From my limited time on the floor, my impression was that, compared to years past, there seemed to be a greater percentage of booths and products aimed at the commercial representatives and wholesale buyers at the show as opposed to new consumer goods. There were lots of products such as roasters and related coffee processing equipment, packaging machines, coffee shop supplies, and other such goods. There were the usual coffee and espresso machines companies represented as well such as Rancilio, Compaq, Nuovo Simonelli, Faema, Rocket, Mazzer, etc.. But as I have at many past shows I have tried to concentrate on consumer items of interest, particularly from new companies. Sometimes this works out, and other times not so much. Three items I worked to review from the 2016 Atlanta exhibition did not get delivered as were promised, and so this year I was more discerning, and more frugal with my time as I deems to have less of it and more show to cover.

  As I walked the floor one brewing method seemed to stand out in my eyes. It also happens to be the one which I have not yet tried in any form, and that is cold brew. Can't say exactly why that is, considering that it is a growing presence in the market. I think I can at least partially explain that. If you visited my home you would realize that it becomes a matter of space. My collection of equipment (old and newish) includes six vacuum brewers, three drip-o-laters, five press pots, eight percolators (stove top and electric), two older hand grinders, two old twelve-volt, portable percolators, seven coffee roasters, and a bunch of other odds and ends plus my regular day-in and day-out coffee equipment. But I am about to gladly create a space for this:


"COLD BRUER" from BRUER
bruer


  On the last day of the show, and literally in the last hour before I headed out towards home, I had one hour to stroll the floor and look for any last-minute interesting items I may have missed. The "display tower" seen above caught my eye and I am glad it did. My experience with the folks there from "Bruer" may turn out to be one of the most fruitful of the weekend. These folks from Santa Cruz, California were showing their "Cold Bruer." It is a home cold brew device that shows it quality the moment you pick it up. The upper and lower chamber are borosilicate glass, all the colored parts are food-grade silicone, and the metal parts are stainless steel. But a brewing device is just that- just a device. The beverage it produces is what counts.
  I was given a taste of three different coffees which were brewed with the Cold Bruer. This was the first time I had ever sampled a cold brewed coffee and from that first sip I was hooked. Seriously. Their cold brew method brought out nuances in the three different coffees that allowed each to stand out in their own way even when sampled in succession. The Cold Bruer is made of food-grade silicone, stainless steel, and borosilicate glass. There are two stainless steel tubes in the center of the top chamber, the outer tube having a "knob" at the top which allows the drip rate to be easily adjusted. I should be receiving a Cold Bruer to try with my own home roasted coffee soon. Honestly, the coffee was so good I am motivated to start roasting single origins just to use with this appliance.
  The Cold Bruer is available directly from Bruer for $80 including shipping to USA addresses, and individual parts are available for replacement directly from Bruer as well.


COLD BREW "NITRO COFFEE" by JoeTap

JoeTap Barista

  I am going to break ranks here for a moment and feature a device that I doubt any of my readers will have in their home. The JoeTap Barista system. This is a commercial, stand-alone nitro brewing system. With the full setup all you need is to plumbed it to a filtered water line and a NEMA-5-15P outlet. What is that, you ask? A standard 15amp 120VAC wall outlet like in your home. It has a built in nitrogen generator for the "nitro" infusion, and the coffee comes in a box (basically like the cheap wine you would not buy), but once you taste the product from this device you are going to start clearing a space in your man cave! It has a built in chiller as well. Pull the tap and out comes what can only be described this way- imagine if Guiness only brewed coffee.
  No prices are quoted on the website, but if you see one of these in a coffee shop, bar or restaurant, I urge you to tray a glass! It is astoundingly delicious! Check out the details on their website, if you dare! I have to assume that, in terms of price, this likely qualifies as an "if you have to ask you can't afford it" item.


"STARESSO" MANUAL ESPRESSO MAKER
   
Staresso
 
  Some of you may remember the Wacaco manual espresso maker. It looked like an insanely large medicinal "cold capsule" with a side-mounted pump. I tested one with very poor results and received very little assistance to get it working properly and gave up on it. While walking the floor on the first day I could not get close to the Staresso booth because of the crowds, but on Saturday I worked my way over there at a slow time.
  The Staresso comes from a Chinese manufacturing firm (Shenzhen Staresso Culture Co. Ltd). I picked one up off the display table and it has a solid feel that is easy to grasp. The diamond-textured silicone cover on the main body makes it easy to hold and the air pump (seen extended in the photo) has a positive, smooth feel in operation. The pump handle locks into is body by simply pressing it down fully and giving it a partial rotation which can be done with one finger. It can be extended in much the same way. Rotate the top with a finger on the outer circumference of the pump handle and the pump will extend.
  To make a beverage, lift out the pump assembly and unscrew the bottom portion. Remove the filter basket and fill with coffee. Replace that assembly and remove the pump by unscrewing the top. Fill with hot water and replace the pump. Place that assembly on the base with the glass cup and pump until you feel the resistance decrease which indicates that the water reservoir has been emptied. Then enjoy the coffee beverage. I have the Staresso in hand so will be doing a full review in the near future.
  At the show another attendee was there at the booth and they made us a "shot." Honestly, we were both a bit unsure as to whether it could actually make a drinkable beverage. But it did. It could have been improved with slightly hotter water and preheating the vessel, but we were both pleased with the taste. And, yes, it actually had some crema on it. The device does have a valve system below the little basket which seems to act as a crema enhancer to some extent, but that fact did not detract from our positive impression.
  It is available on Amazon now for $60. Watch for detailed review here on "Espresso! My Espresso" in the next couple of weeks.

To close things out, let's lighten things up a bit. I walked the aisles specifically looking for things which caught my "artist's eye."I present a simple gallery of images.

espro ESPRO! By this time I should not have to say more than that. If you don't have one, it is time. I will try once again- their presses make the traditional press pot obsolete.
E71 Faema! An historic name that speaks for itself in this industry. But now, the Faema E-71. It gives you touch screen control of brew temperature, infusion time, and even a flush cycle. This three group machine has separate brew boilers for each group.
technivorm Technivorm Moca Master. See a color you like?
behmor Joe Behm of Behmor now has the first SCA certified connected brewer, and you can operate it from the snuggly warmth of your bed. With your eyes closed!
kinto The display of the Kinto booth was a study in the beauty of simplicity.
Monin Monin found a visually enticing way to create a background screen for their booth.
Grindmaster Grindmaster always catches my eye. I have a Model 500 from the 50's. Even in commercial service where these grinders are abused on a daily basis, they run for decades!
bike coffee Enough room on top for a Joe Tap Nitro Brew unit, and enough room in the box for the generator to run it and to pump from a reservoir in the same crate.
San Franciscan "Honey? Is it OK if you park your car outside from now on?"
Cino This 60 pound, 3500 watt "Cino" brand commercial pod machine has two pumps (steam and brew) three thermoblock "boilers" (two for brew, one for steam), Dual "smart" operating systems, and a street price of about $1000.

  So another year has come and gone, and another SCA exhibition is in the rear view mirror. The 620 mile flight home took about 20 minutes more than the 90 mile drive from the airport to home. And as has been the pattern for Northern California over the last 6 months or so, it rained hard for the last 10 miles of the drive.
  I have been involved in this hobby, now turned profession, for about 16 years, and the changes I have witnessed in that short time have been quite astounding. What awaits us in 2018? Meet me in Seattle next year and we can find out together. Between now and then, have a cup of coffee.. or two.

Coffee Cup
  -   -   - Silvia
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