The 2017 Global Specialty Coffee Expo drew to a close Sunday on a rainy afternoon in Seattle, setting thousands of attendees off into the dismal weather to start their journeys home or head to the Barista Guild of America party and other final-evening events.
While the weather was dreary, Expo 2017—the debut event of the newly formed Specialty Coffee Association—was anything but. Thousands upon thousands of specialty coffee professionals from around the globe descended on Seattle for an action-packed long weekend featuring a 400+-booth-strong exhibition hall, no less than five coffee competitions, and a strong showcase for some of the world’s best coffee.
This annual event—whether under its old Specialty Coffee Association of America moniker or the new one—has traditionally been open only to industry members. On the final day of this year’s event, that changed: Sunday’s festivities were open to the public for a $50 admission fee. With Sunday traditionally being the slowest day of the show, opening it to the public likely counteracted the drop-off, and as a result Sunday’s vibrant throng seemed to match the attendance numbers of the event’s previous days.
Crowds were certainly in full effect in the U.S. Coffee Championships area, where the U.S. Barista Championship drew an overflowing collection of onlookers. While the crowd was treated to six stellar finals performances, there could be only one winner: Congratulations to Kyle Ramage from Mahlkonig USA in Durham, N.C.—your 2017 United States Barista Champion! (See the complete list of competition winners here.) Kyle will represent the USA at the 2017 World Barista Championship, taking place November 9-12 in Seoul, South Korea.
The memories of Expo 2017 are likely still a blur to the hordes of attendees who graced the Washington State Convention Center over the last several days. But as the dust settles, the debut Global Specialty Coffee Expo will likely be remembered as a powerful, very well-attended global gathering in one of America’s signature coffee cities. Not bad for a first effort.