It's that time of year again, and we're heading to Minneapolis to give you wall to wall coverage of the 2008 Specialty Coffee Association of America Tradeshow and Conference. We have some exciting coverage planned for this year, including a few new tricks.
Well, this ain't Seattle, but we still have three people covering the show for you this year (In Seattle, we had six!).
Yours truly will be covering the show floor, some seminars, and I'll be trying to get some good interviews with producers, farmers, and a few roasters this time around. I'll be filling up my 8gb Compact Flash card full of photos daily and uploading a whack of them. I'm kind of a roving (raving) reporter.
Liz will be covering the United States Barista Championship in depth, with heaps of posts and up to the minute information about competitors and how they score. She'll also be doing some limited reporting from other parts of the show.
Beata will be covering the niftier consumer oriented parts of the show floor, with reports on different booths, new, interesting, or just plain quirky offerings that people want you to buy just because you love coffee.
We plan daily, as they happen blog-style articles this year - each day has a new article, so make sure you reload them often to get the up to the minute coverage. We may have a separate daily posting for the USBC, we're still working on the logistics for that, but every day, you should be seeing two articles playing tag team with each other on the front page as they get continually updated by our reporters.
Photos? We'll have lots of those - some will be going directly into the posts; the majority of my photos will be fed into my flickr stream where lots of raw sequences of photographs will be posted, with update links in the articles. Liz and Beata will also no doubt be posting to their Flickr accounts. As will many others - so with so many people posting to Flickr this year, how do you keep track of it all? It's easy: I've also set up this year's Flickr Pool - SCAA 2008 Minneapolis where others attending the show will be posting their photos, giving you a wide range of imagery live from Minneapolis (if you're attending the show and use Flickr, join the pool and tag your photos!).
We're also going to be doing some limited video from the show this year - nothing intense or oversaturated, (see below for more "saturation"), but definitely adding the visual medium this year for even better coverage.
And there's one more thing. This year, I'll be making use of CoffeeGeek's Twitter (click and "follow" to get all the updates!) for up to the second news from the show, including photos! If you are familiar with Twitter, you'll love the coverage coming this year, much of it exclusive to the CoffeeGeek Twitter feed. If you aren't familiar with Twitter, check it out - it's the next big thing (Facebook's so over, isn't it?).
So what can you expect from this year's SCAA conference in Minneapolis? One of the things I'm most excited about is this year's Portrait Country: Ethiopia. It's the first time the SCAA has featured an African country as their portrait country, and I say it's about time. There will be many representatives from the birthplace of coffee attending the show, and we hope to bring you some interesting stories and features about these people.
Another very cool thing is that the SCAA is having a competition going on to pick the coffee of the year. According to the .org, "more than 30 experienced judges choose the winning coffee by cupping or thoroughly evaluating the sensory attributes of each coffee sample entered in the competition. The judges specifically assess the distinctive qualities of the coffee samples, including: fragrance, aroma, taste, flavor, aftertaste and body." All I know is this - there's a lot of premier roasters in the world who want this title, and want it bad. I'll be covering it and the results.
CoffeeKids is celebrating their 20th Anniversary of doing things good for coffee producing nations, and I've been invited to the formal dinner, for which I feel very honoured. Where possible, I'll be taking photos and notes, and reporting from this event.
Of course, there's the show floor. This year, there's approximately 500 booths including many old favourites, some new ones, and a whole ton of syrup, chai, tea and coffee sleeve nonsense. Well, it's not nonsense to those exhibitors and the commercial-interest attendees, but for us, we'd prefer to see the good stuff. And we'll mainly report on that, leaving the fluff out there for those opening their new mom-and-pop coffee shop. Regardless of the types of booths, this show is huge - maybe the Milan expo is bigger for coffee, but it only happens every two years - the SCAA trade show floor is so big, it takes two or three days to fully cover it, and we'll do our best.
The SCAA is once again holding a Town Hall meeting on Saturday, May 3, at 10:30 am, and we'll be attending to see what's going down and where the SCAA is heading.
And of course, last, but certainly not least, there's the megalithic event known as the United States Barista Championships. An event that's almost twice as long (and big) as the World Barista Championship, 50 competitors will weedle down to a final six through three rounds of competition over four days, with the winners decided on Monday, May 5th. Liz Clayton will be our on the scene reporter for this one, providing fast and furious coverage of the events exclusively for CoffeeGeek. I'll be staying away for the most part this year (well I can't guarantee anything), and trying to bring you more show floor coverage, but I'm super excited that Liz is on board for the USBC coverage - she's done a fantastic job in the past on her own blog, and I look for that to continue on CG.
In years past, CoffeeGeek was one of the main sources for quick reportage from the SCAA; this year, there's a radical difference. This year, the SCAA itself plans wall to wall coverage of the show, blog and vblog style. According to Nick Cho, SCAA Board Member, here's what you can expect:
- Live online video of the USBC, in addition to backstage videos, and ongoing blog coverage
- Video highlights of Coffee of the Year competition
- Video highlights from the show floor, skill-building workshops, seminars, the works
- blog-coverage from ALL OVER Conference
- full-video of keynote address
- interviews and more.
The Super-Secret-Link to all this goodness was just released: all this will be found at
the main conference site the SCAA Wordpress site (nb - updated link) during the live event. Definitely check it out.
And tune in later this week - starting Friday, we're on the scene, and we'll be reporting. See you there!