On The Floor: Day Two of the 2019 Specialty Coffee Expo

Day two of the Specialty Coffee Association’s Coffee Expo in Boston saw updates on old classics—here’s what you need to know.


A theme in this year’s exhibit hall, showcasing the various vendors at the 2019 Specialty Coffee Expo hosted by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA), is rethinking and updating the classics. From branding to brew methods, many of the booths I stopped by had a new twist on something familiar. 

Josh Littlefield of La Marzocco (center) demonstrates the Leva machine, an updated take on the classic lever machine.

Curtis is evolving the process of making cold brew. Cold brew, by most folks’ definition, takes many hours to brew. Curtis has sped up the process with their new cold brewer “Essense” This brewer uses a finer grind, agitation, and vacuum pressure to create a faster and better extraction. Attendees can try the final product at the Curtis booth, and there’s no denying it: It tastes really delicious.

From a practicality side, it’s a logistical dream. The brewer yields a concentrate, which the machine can then automatically dilute and transfer to a 5-gallon keg. Basically, you put three pounds of coffee into the Essense and end up with a keg of cold brew when you come back 20 minutes later. The Essense will be on the market later this year.

A glimpse into the new Curtis Essense Cold Brewer. The lines shown below the brewer transfer water and concentrate into a keg after the brewing is complete.

Brewista’s Cold Brew Pro 4 looks more like a traditional 5-gallon cold brewer with a few key features, like a permanent stainless-steel mesh filter in place of a paper filter, and an integrated support system that allows the filter to lock in place and easily drain into the brew vessel for easy dispensing. The changes are small additions to the typical method most baristas are used to, but they make a huge difference for cleanliness and just general ease of use. This brewer is also one of the products featured in the 2019 Best New Product competition.

The integrated support system of the Brewista Cold Brew Pro 4, which allows the coffee to drain easily into the serving vessel.

Marco Beverage Systems is known for their temperature stable water boilers and sleek and simple aesthetic. This year, they are pushing the limits of their popular water dispensers, debuting the Friia dispenser, which dispenses hot, cold, and sparkling water from a boiler below the counter. In addition, they are using Expo to involve attendees with creating their next product. Their “innovation bar” features a dispenser that can pour multiple coffee offerings.

The lineup of Marco dispensers, which draw from under-counter boilers.

The prototype at the booth can dispense hot water, cold brew concentrate, finished diluted cold brew, and hot coffee! These aren’t the final offerings; rather Marco is using these examples to gain customer feedback. Next to the brewer is an iPad with a survey that attendees can use to provide their thoughts on how a tool like this would work in their space. The final product is TBD, but it will be based off of information Marco gathered through this year’s Expo. The Friia dispenser will be available in the U.S. come October.

The Marco booth wants to hear from you: A digital survey is next to their newest dispenser prototype so attendees can be a part in the R&D phase of their newest product.

Baratza is celebrating their 25-year history with an update on the “darling sweetheart of the brand,” as Quinn Anderson, service manager, puts it: the Virtuoso. This popular grinder got a modern makeover, with an updated user interface and LED lights so you can see inside the doser chamber. It also now has a digital timer for grinding, so you can more easily approximate your gram amount. If you are a fan of Baratza grinders, or in the market for one, I definitely suggest checking out this new version.

The new Baratza Virtuoso grinder on the right, which features a digital grinding timer and LED lights.

Other brands familiar in the industry are expanding on some classic ideas. Urnex, the go-to for coffee equipment cleaners, has introduced seven new products for 2019, including cleaning supplies for roasters and super-automatic grinders. Califia Farms, known for their alternative milk products, has introduced Barista Blend Oat Milk, which uses sunflower oil instead of canola oil to create a more pleasant aftertaste, and steams just as good as it tastes.

The Urnex booth highlighting their seven new products for 2019.

And the La Marzocco booth has been constantly jammed the past two days, showcasing their two newest machines: the Leva, which reimagines the classic lever espresso machine, and the KB90, which changed hundreds of years of tradition by implementing a straight-in portafilter.

Lastly, green coffee importers List & Beisler wanted to break out of the classic booth design and create something that was naturally compelling and interactive. Letting people drive remote-controlled vehicles while severely caffeinated seemed like a great place to start. Attendees recreate the supply chain, grabbing a bagged green sample, placing it on a mini remote-controlled boat, and racing it around a pool to a remote-control truck, which “delivers” the sample to the final destination. It’s a pretty high-stakes game, though: Players are timed, and whoever delivers the sample in the fastest amount of time will win an Ikawa sample roaster! I recommend trying earlier in the day while hands and brains are fully functioning!

Ana Mallozzi has worked in the coffee industry for the past seven years in a variety of roles for roasteries big and small on the East and West coasts. Currently, she does operations for Granny Squibb’s, a local and organic iced tea company based in Providence, R.I.

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