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

It’s day one of the Specialty Coffee Association’s Coffee Expo in Boston. Here are some of the highlights from the floor.


Although our feet will be aching and our cheeks sore from smiling come Sunday night, nothing beats that first feeling of seeing the colossal Exhibit Hall upon arrival to the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) Expo, taking place in Boston this weekend. Whether it’s the joy of knowing you’ll see old friends, the eagerness to try out that new gadget you’ve been reading about, or the anticipation of all the coffee you are about to try over a three-day period, the excitement of the first day of Expo is something special we look forward to every year.

Activities Hall

The World Barista Championship (WBC) Team Bar Competition has come back to Expo. It’s an innovative way for attendees to mingle with the barista competitors; and what could be better than mingling over drinks made by some of the best baristas in the world?

The WBC Team Bar.

Here’s how it works: Teams made up of six barista competitors have 20 minutes to create a menu, then serve drinks during a 40-minute service. I arrived to the bar as “Team Scale” was getting underway, and the Barista Champion of Latvia, Janis Podins, made me a delicious macchiato with Ecuador Cariamanga from coffee sponsor Counter Culture Coffee.

Janis Podins, barista champion of Latvia, making my macchiato.

Besides allowing attendees to meet barista competitors from all over the world, the contest allows the competitors to interact with peers they might otherwise not get to meet during the frenzy of competition. Another cool feature of this new event: When the points add up, the competitor with the highest score gets a pass to the WBC semifinals! The Brewers Cup competitors are also taking turns brewing coffee for attendees—look for that booth to the right of the Brewers Cup stage.

If you need more coffee, the Toddy Cold Brew Coffee Bar is serving up some delicious nitro and still cold-brewed coffees and teas from 10 different roasters.  Toddy used the coffees and recipes that the roasters themselves suggested, so you’re truly getting the best representation of the cold brews being offered. They’ll also be serving cold brew mocktails throughout the weekend.

Beth Gould from Queen City Grounds in Charlotte, N.C., pours a nitro tea provided by Toddy.

The Roasters Village is back, with roasters and importers serving their choice coffees all weekend. We’ll write about Roasters Village again later this weekend, but if you’re at the show, be sure to stop by the Cup of Excellence booth (Booth 4). The Colombia Cup of Excellence (CoE) competition finished just a few weeks ago, and at 11 a.m. Saturday, they’ll be brewing up the winners and also serving coffees from their Sumatra Prestige Cup project. This year was the first time CoE did a competition in Indonesia, and it’s the first time these coffees will be served in the U.S.

Exhibit Hall

The Exhibit Hall opened officially this morning at 10:30 a.m., with eager attendees, already fully caffeinated from their time at the Roasters Village, streaming in to discover new products, meet the faces behind the companies they love, and inevitably drink more coffee.

The 2019 Best New Product competition is always fun to check out, with products ranging from commercial and home espresso machines of all kinds, coffee products like Steeped Coffee, and Holographic Film packaging from Pacific Bag.  Also this year, the popular Design Lab is back, displaying some of the best design in our industry, with products that include packaging, vessels, spaces, and branding.

Some of the 2019 Best New Product display.

Lastly, a big shout-out to SCA for their focus on reducing paper waste during this event. Keep Cup is providing their 4oz reusable cups for Roasters Village that attendees can use to try coffees and then return when they’re done. And throughout the floor you’ll see Detpak RecycleMe Systems, which provide specific paper cups that can be recycled by returning them to the Detpak branded receptacle. (Detpak is also featured in the Best New Product competition).

Attendees check out some of the product packaging on display at the Design Lab.

We’ll be exploring more on the exhibit floor tomorrow, so stay tuned!

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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