By Jeremy Martin
It’s kind of amazing how four days can go by in an instant, and yet in retrospect be so full of activity that it would seem time had elapsed in slow motion. How else could I have done and experienced all I did?
Still, I was only able to fully take in a fraction of the workshops, lectures, demonstrations, and competitions that took place last weekend in Seattle at the 2014 SCAA event, and will probably only crisply remember a fraction of that fraction.
Luckily, I had the trusty old shutter and click of my camera to record for posterity all the moments that I may have otherwise overlooked. Flipping back through the hundreds of shots I took, a few distinct themes have become apparent.
The SCAA is a gathering place, a migratory meeting hall where old friends re-connect and new bonds are formed. That becomes obvious in the countless ear-to-ear grins, bear hugs, and hearty handshakes, many of which were captured in photos.
Secondly, the event is an educational opportunity, a place where people go to learn more about something they love, or in some cases to love something that they are learning. That’s evident in the focused eyes of notepad-toting workshop attendees, and lecture participants with in-depth questions they’re eager to have answered.
The SCAA event is also an arena of skill where those who seek to be the best have an opportunity to find out if they truly are. It happens to be playoff time in the NBA right now, and it was certainly playoff time in Seattle over the weekend as the United States Barista Championship, Brewer’s Cup, Latte Art Championship, Cup Taster’s Championship, and myriad other contests took place. Emotions and occasionally tempers ran hot as coffee pros put all their skills and knowledge to the test, trusting their abilities and casting their fates to the wind in the hopes they could impress a panel of judges for whom anything less than exceptional is considered inadequate.
Now it’s over though ”eye-catching banners have been pulled from the rafters of the Washington State Convention Center, elaborate exbo booths have been crated and shipped, and friends old and new have returned to their respective corners of the globe. Today seems as good a time as any to say thank you to everyone who attended, to those who followed this blog, and to volunteers and staff of the SCAA for putting on such an amazing party.
Congratulations are in order to all the contestants at this year’s competitions: Your desire to succeed, resolve to compete, and world-class skill sets are an inspiration and put many of your contemporaries, myself included, to shame.
I hope to see you all again next year back here in Seattle, where the 2015 SCAA event will once again take place. Believe it or not, the next installment will be even bigger than this year’s was, with such exciting additions as the World Barista Championship and Barista Magazine’s 10-year Anniversary Celebration Extravaganza!
To review any of our extensive SCAA coverage, you can just click HERE.
Jeremy Martin is a freelance writer and photographer who has reported on coffee, craft beer, college sports, and business for a variety of publications over the past six years. A veteran of the café industry and graduate of Western Michigan University, Jeremy lives in Seattle where can often be found making sandwiches from whatever is left in the fridge and cracking wise for the amusement of his adoring wife Amanda.