Saturday, April 30, 2011

SCAA Houston - Day 3 - Benefit Breakfast, Lunch & Show Floor

Apr. 30, Started off today with the breakfast benefiting the non-profit International Women's Coffee Association (IWCA). I've attended these breakfasts ever since my first SCAA 5 years ago in Long Beach. Each year I find them so inspirational. They have speakers with fascinating stories and the women around the table are usually like a mini United Nations. It was so great to see Elvy again - an exporter and friend from my trip to El Salvador in 2009.

At an Utz hosted cupping that morning, we cupped Brazils, 2 from Honduras and 1 from Guatemala. I liked the Honduras Cocafelol the best.

For the first time at SCAA, I went to the Coffee Quality Institute (CQI) lunch. Since CQI does the Q Grader courses, I feel like I've become part of this circle. Like IWCA, it was impressive to hear about the ways they are working around the globe to assist coffee farmers. I accidentally sat down at a "sponsored" table -- the sponsor being Deli Cafe from Costa Rica. Many thanks to Grace Mena, President of Deli Cafe, who graciously welcomed me, ignoring my faux paux!

After lunch I finally got to the trade show floor. It was a bit of a whirlwind - a mix of pre-planned meetings and visits to booths I'd been planning to visit for weeks. Thanks to Theta Ridge who agreed to have Artisan's decaf Kenyan-Meru sample on display along with their other fine coffees.

After the show floor closed, I was on to my first Roaster's Guild annual meeting. I just joined this year, which apparently is a milestone year. Long time chair, Beth Dominick, was stepping down after an incredible run. There was lots of anticipation for the upcoming retreat in W. Virginia. First time on the "right" side of the Mississippi!

Finished off the evening at Armadillo Palace and the Roaster's Guild party. It was great to see Connie Blumhardt of Roast Magazine and a big crew of SCAA staff.

Friday, April 29, 2011

SCAA Houston - Day 2 - Cupping Classes

Apr. 29 - spent most of today in cupping classes. First, a 3 hour class on the SCAA form and calibration. Trish Rothgeb, Wrecking Ball Coffee, was the instructor. Then for the afternoon, a 3 hour class on cupping defects, taught by Andi Trindle from Atlantic Specialty and Chad Trewick, Caribou Coffee. Both classes were excellent, providing hands on experiences and plenty of experts in the class to discuss and debate the various issues.

In the morning I was happy to find that Artisan Coffee Imports decaf Colombian had arrived for the roaster skill building workshops! (see photo) Whew! Shipping miscommunications had caused unfortunate delays -- Max Gonzalez of Amaya Roasting in Houston saved the day with a dramatic curb-side pick up of the coffee from the trucking company SAIA. Thanks Max!

In the evening I met some cafe owners/baristas and we went to the Barista Guild competition where they were announcing who would move ahead to the next round -- Jeff Hoffman of Square Mile in London was one of the judges/announcers.

From there we went to a reception hosted by Utz and I was glad to see two of the cooperative chairmen from Kenya who I had met in February! Raymond Gitau of Ndumberi Coop in Kiambu and Fredrick Kariithi of Rung'eto Coop in Kirinyanga.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

SCAA Houston - day 1 at the world's largest coffee expo

Apr. 28, 2011 Today was my first day at the SCAA Houston. It's the world's largest coffee expo, so what better place to have it than, TEXAS -- where everything is BIG. Professionals from 20 countries and around 8,000 attendees and 360 exhibitors are expected. It's at the G. R. Brown Convention Center (see photo) - a massive place right in downtown. The featured origin this year is Brazil, so top coffee officials from the largest producer of coffee in the world gave remarks at the welcome reception. I was sit
ting next to the Vice President of the Colombian Coffee Federation, Edgar Cordero. He seemed mildly amused with the Brazilian speaker's comments.

I spent the day volunteering -- first with set-up at the SCAA store and then welcoming and orienting volunteers at the volunteer check-in booth. Both places were fun, since I was meeting people from far and near as they arrived. Then I enjoyed the welcome presentations and the welcome reception -- a Texan sized party with Brazilian dancing and decorations. It's really amazing how this event brings together the top coffee people from around the world.
We did not see the royal wedding in London, but a lovely Houston couple was getting their photographs in the park across the street from the hall!

Friday, April 15, 2011

New decaf Colombian AA to be featured at SCAA

A tasty new decaf from Colombia has landed in Oakland, CA! Get yours by contacting Artisan Coffee Imports (734-717-6278). Processed using the ethyl acetate "natural" decaffeination method (at the Descafecol plant in Colombia) this coffee has lemony sweetness, brings a fresh, crisp aftertaste, very nice acidity, clean and has a viscous body. A surprisingly tasty cup.

What's great is the transparency through to the cooperative level. The coffee is called "El Meridiano", a brand name of the ASOCEAS association of 58 small coffee growers in Herrera, a department of Tolima, Colombia. To really drill down to the location, look up the town of Rioblanco -- that's the small mountain town closest to most of the farms. I've uploaded a photo of Einar Ortiz, one of the farmers in this cooperative.

Varieties of coffee in this lot: Caturra (70%), Colombia (20%) and Typica (10%)
Fully washed in micro-mills at each farm
Sun-dried at each farm in green-house and roof type drying patios
Grown with 40% shade cover
Preparation: Excelso European Prep (EP) (Screen 15+)
Specialty Grade

Going to the SCAA Event in Houston? Cup this coffee and other decafs at the "Single Origin Decaf Cupping" being hosted by Artisan Coffee Imports on Sunday, May 1, 9:15- 10:15am in the Activities Hall (of the G.R. Brown Convention Center), The Cupping Exchange, Room A.