The SCAA Skill Building Workshop, May 13-14, in Ann Arbor, MI was a treat for coffee professionals and a watershed for the coffee industry in southeastern Michigan. Maybe even for the Midwest as a region.
Tom Isaia and the crew from Coffee Express as well as Allen Leibowitz from Zingerman's and Greg Miricle from Great Lakes Coffee were all instrumental in getting the event together. As if those 3 names aren't big enough, the event also brought in Trevor Corlett from Madcap Coffee Roasters in Grand Rapids, Jack Groot frim JP Coffee and the Midwest Barista School, and a large contingent of Canadians, such as Richard Ottenhof, of Multatuli Coffee in Kingston, Ontario.
I was the only green coffee importer represented, as far as I know amongst this crowd of ~ 100 top notch coffee professionals. As Artisan Coffee Imports I cupped some amazing coffees during Allen's Comparative Cupping course (see video). As a generic SCAA member, it was fun for me to be a porter for Trevor's Milk & Latte Art class (see video).
The informal Motown Barista throwdown of latte art at the Plymouth Bean coffee company was my first throwdown. Three judges (Allen, Jack Groot and Sherry from JP Coffee) quickly gave a thumbs up or thumbs down as two baristas at a time competed to create delicate rosettas in the foam and crema of the lattes they pulled. The excitement and suspense created a wonderful and fun atmosphere -- collegial even.