It’s finally here: The first-ever Global Specialty Coffee Expo is underway in Seattle! It’s been many months since the August 2016 merging of the Specialty Coffee Association of America and the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe created the Specialty Coffee Association, and now the newly minted organization has debuted its global gathering.
The international nature of the event was pervasive today as the show floor opened to attendees—at every turn one could hear several languages spoken, and a walk around the show floor revealed a veritable coffee map brought together in one locale. Kenya, this year’s SCA Portrait Country, had an unsurprisingly vibrant presence, with festive dancers providing an entertaining complement to coffee service at the Coffee Board of Kenya’s booth.
Baristas were amply represented among the swarms of people milling through the show. On the show floor, booth after booth of coffee-equipment manufacturers was staffed by decorated competitors and other experienced baristas serving fantastic drinks. In the competition area—located an escalator ride away from the exhibition floor—the Barista Guild Cafe welcomed visitors with a busy coffee shop staffed by BGA volunteers.
Those in the market for watching some coffee competition action have no shortage at this year’s Expo: The expansive room housing the U.S. Coffee Championships is hosting an impressive four national coffee competitions—the U.S. Barista Championship, Brewers Cup Championship, Roaster Championship, and Cup Tasters Championship. On Friday, the action hummed along quickly and seamlessly, with a healthy crowd on-hand to encourage the community of competitors.
A fifth competition, the USCC Latte Art Throwdown, took place Thursday evening at the Expo’s Official Launch Party at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre. Taking home the top prize at the tournament-style competition was Harry Winkler, a Chicago-based trainer and quality assurance associate at La Colombe. Congratulations to Harry, and good luck to the competitors in the rest of this weekend’s contests!
The first-ever Global Specialty Coffee Expo is off to an auspicious start, with a palpable energy coming from this passionate international community. It will be an action-packed next few days as the specialty-coffee industry savors this annual celebration.