USBC and SCAA begin!

Welcome to the Specialty Coffee Association of America Conference and Expo!!

It’s hard to believe that the SCAA show here in Anaheim hasn’t even started yet, given how busy the past few days have already been down here in Anaheim. No, we didn’t get distracted by Disneyland (though the nightly fireworks outside of our hotel room — some of which are in the shape of Mickey’s head. No joke). I spent yesterday attending Symposium, which is the SCAA’s 2-day Executive Series.

Unfortunately, I can’t get to the photos I took yesterday, but I will be blogging with them later on. The highlight of the day for me was the two-part series on Single Serve Coffee, particularly the second part, which focused on boutique cafes using various single serve techniques in the shops. On hand to offer their experiences were Caroline Bell of Cafe Grumpy in New York, Eileen Hassi of Ritual Coffee in San Francisco, and Doug Zell of Intelligentsia. Their commentary on the shifting dynamic of specialty coffee consumers wanting more transparency from their coffees was truly illuminating.

Each of the presenters at the Single Serve Coffee, Boutique Application, explained the various ways they utilize the single serve applications in their cafes. It was really cool, also, that each presenter brought videos from their cafes to the attendees to Symposium could see exactly how it works. This is a photo of the super chic pour over station at Ritual in San Francisco, which is made up of copper pipes and Hario V60s.

Today, the United States Barista Championship kicked off with day one of the preliminary round, which found 25 baristas battling it out for a coveted spot in the semifinal round. The SCAA is broadcasting the entire competition live online HERE, but please be patient, as it seems the live feed is having some issues at the moment. Rest assured, it’s being taken care of.

Micah Svejda of Kaldi's Coffee in St. Louis, prepares his cappuccinos for the judges during today's preliminary round of the USBC.

Just a spent-puck’s throw away from the USBC stage is the awesome, amazing Barista Guild of America Cafe! This circular bar is the place to be — and has been all day today. Equipped with two Nuova Simnelli Aurelia machines, a variety of grinders, pour over applications, and more, the BGA Cafe will be serving amazing coffees all weekend long.

Here, Trevor Corlett of MadCap Coffee works the Aurelia machine in the BGA Cafe.

One of the masterminds behind the BGA Cafe is Ben Helfen of Octane Coffee, who made sure everything was running smoothly from the moment the cafe opened today. And that reminds me — we have some awesome stuff happening tonight down here in SoCal: a keynote speech from Arianna Huffington, followed by the Opening Reception, which should be especially bitchen, given that a true-to-form Thursday Night Latte Art Throwdown will be taking place in the middle of the whole thing! And Lem Butler and Ben Helfen will be co-MCing!

There's Ben! Working hard, as always, serving drinks at the BGA Cafe.

And in a strange twist of coffee fate, tonight’s latte art throwdown will be judged by a celebrity: Rohan Marley, who is of course, the fourth son of Bob Marley, and the partner of Lauryn Hill, AND the owner of Marley Coffee (see, there’s the tie in). I’ll be judging along with Rohan, so I’ll be sure to tell you how it all goes behind the scenes with the dude!

Above, Lauryn and Rohan. Now I REALLY know I'm in L.A.



About Sarah 932 Articles
Sarah Allen (she/her) is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.