The latest TED conference upped its coffee-service game with a host of world-class baristas and gorgeous pop-up cafes
BY VANIA LING
SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
Monday, February 15, marked the beginning of TED2016: Dream, a weeklong conference about ideas that took place in Vancouver, B.C. For the past several years, TED organizers have invited some of the best baristas in the world to brew coffee for attendees, and it’s been such a popular addition that the coffee program at TED continues to grow.
First time visitors to the Vancouver Convention Centre may be blown away by the surreal views. The scenery of sea, sky, and Rockies is a stunning backdrop for the coffee and tea experience at TED. At a conference that brings together leading innovators in technology, entertainment, and design, it would only suffice to please said palates with some of the best coffee and tea on offer in the world. This year included six pop-up cafes, each unique and spotted around the concourse of the conference.
New baristas to TED were relaxed and looking forward to working with their counterparts from around the world. First time barista Selina Viguera of Blue Bottle Coffee in Los Angeles was excited to be a part of a group of hand-selected baristas to learn and experience coffee at TED. She had been interested in the coffee work being done at TED conferences since first hearing about Coffee Common, the now-defunct gathering of coffee professionals that led to this collaboration with TED.
The most elaborate of the pop-up bars was decorated with an embellished backdrop of windmills spinning in the formation of the Target logo. Each space elicited a different ˜dream’-scape ”a place to enjoy coffee but also encourage creative thinking in line with the theme of the conference, Dream. One included a grassy space under a tree with synthetic leaves that changed from green to brassy brown depending on the temperature of air rustling the leaves. This came complete with a fan, yes, to create the rustling.
Most of the pop-up coffee stations highlighted the coffees being brewed, but the La Marzocco Home bar shifted the focus to the process of making coffee. The unique experience invited TED attendees to the inside of the bar to take part in a hands-on lesson in making coffee. There were four La Marzocco home machines with baristas on hand to instruct. Director of La Marzocco Home, Scott Callender, taught first-time coffee maker, Tony, how to pull the perfect shot and steam milk. Little party fact: the Linea Mini warms up in only 8 minutes!
Tea has often gone unnoticed at the TED beverage pavilions, but not at the Vancouver event. Kevin Gascoyne, author of Tea: History, Terroirs, Varieties, and Hugo Americi of Camellia Sinensis Tea House brought a selection of teas to the showcase. The tea bar brewed matcha and loose-leaf teas in gai wans and tea bags for ˜on-the go’ attendees.
On the first day of TED, Peter Giuliano of the SCAA and Mallory Leicht of The Coffee Ethic in Springfield, Mo., led a workshop and coffee cupping to describe how coffee professionals taste coffee and showed the brand-new SCAA tasting wheel. The attendees were engaged and represented a sampling of the conference from tech investors to television and software writers.
When asked about how TEDcoffee has evolved over the years from Coffee Common, Peter described it as less of a difference between the previous ˜Coffee Common’ to the current day ˜TEDcoffee’, but that each year is unique. The principles remain the same ”the convergence of the world’s best baristas, coffees, and coffee equipment in a collaborative coffee service. Service is supported with partnerships with Barista Guilds of America and Europe, and sponsors such as La Marzocco, Baratza, and Hario.
“It’s my favorite coffee service I’ve ever worked in my life, and it’s a highlight of my year because of the baristas I get to work with and the people I get to serve,” says Peter. “It really is an amazing experience.
Here is the complete list of sponsored coffees that were showcased at this year’s TED conference:
Kaldis – Carlos Imbachi, Colombia
Bar Nine – Jipat, Nekempte, Ethiopia
Intelligentsia – Borderlands Project, Colombia
Matchstick – Kiangoi, Kenya
Pachamama – Worka Cooperative, Ethiopia
Sightglass – Finca Zulema, Honduras
Veneziano – Potomay, Guatemala
Swiss Water Decaf Roaster: Elysian – San Jose, Guatemala and Duromina Coop, Ethiopia
Vania Ling is a passionate and creative food specialist. She has a BSc. in Nutrition and Food Science, and a brand-new MSc. in Food Policy, which developed her interest further up the coffee supply chain. She is fascinated by specialty coffee’s role in shaping the wider coffee industry. Vania spent the last 6 months getting to know her new home, Vancouver, B.C., and started a video series, “Coffee Friends.” Previously she was in Dublin, Ireland, surrounded by amazing food and coffee, and where she worked at 3fe Coffee managing operations. Vania is fascinated by sensory experiences that hone the skills of the palate and incorporate her love of music. In recent projects, she has used food ingredients that thrive in the dark to create a sensory experience of tastes and smells to accompany the performance of musical works. Check out Vania’s blog at vanialing.com.