First up, Day 0 (Friday) notes:
Started off the day way too early - around 6am was the wakeup call and out the door by 7 even though my flight wasn't until 1:15. Why so early? A matter of compromises. I was flying out of Seattle to Anaheim, and of course, Seattle isn't exactly across the street from Vancouver. It's about a 2 hour and 45 minute trip one way. So the plan was, I get dropped off at Espresso Vivace around 10am, hang out till 11 or so, and Josie from Baratza would swing by to pick me up and take me to the airport - we were taking the same flight.
Vivace is, well, Vivace. I'm slightly known in the place now (or at least I think so), so the manager stepped up, said hi, asked if I was heading to SCAA today, and took over station from the two person crew to make my ristretto and small latte.
The shot was, near god like. Chocolate undertones are without a doubt my favourite flavor in an espresso shot, and the Dolce blend's got it in spades.
I also bought 5lbs worth of Vivace green, gave it to my Vancouver ride and saw them off.
That first shot was so good, I wanted to get another, but the entire time I was in Schomie's shop there was a lineup out the door. Bummer. Josie showed up, and it was time to head off to SeaTac for the flight.
It wasn't fun, let me tell you. Southwest flights are cramped, transferring between flights in Oakland wasn't fun, and well, I don't like to fly. Nuff said
First up, I had to decide whether or not I wanted to rent a car. The fact that a cab to the hotel would cost about $45 made the decision for me. I got a zippy gold Honda Civic, which I soon had up to 90 on the freeways one the way to the hotel... until I realize it was 90 MILES an hour, not KILOMETERS an hour. Doh. Well, I was impressed with the car.
I got settled in the hotel, and grabbed my SCAA credentials and walked the block to the convention center. There was an opening night "hi, how are ya" party, and I wanted to go put faces to the names and emails.
The first person I spotted was that CoffeeGeek delinquent, Aaron Delazzar. He's lookin' stylish with his new beard and easy to spot height - and guess who was standing next to him? Barry Jarrett! And Professor Brian Gomes da Costa! We introduced and almost immediately fell into the same easy going banter we all share in alt.coffee.
Barry pointed out a fellow I've been waiting over 4 years to meet, so we ambled over to meet... Don Schonholt
For those who don't know, Don is a veritable encyclopedia of coffee knowledge, and one of the founding thoughts behind the entire SCAA concept. I most likely embarrassed Don by stating over and over again how glad I was to finally meet him, and both Prof. Brian and I ganged up on poor Don about an oft-mentioned thing - Donald finally getting around to writing the ultimate book on the subject of coffee. Don was far too humble to realize that it is something the coffee world wants, and probably needs.
Don did say that he would consider writing an article on a subject not many know about - his like of William Urkers' work and Don's unique and very valuable contribution to the coffee world when he gave up a mint copy of Ukers' out of print "All About Coffee" book.
One thing Don did was introduce me to the writer of the excellent book Uncommon Grounds. That book is, of course, written by Mark Pendergrast, and I got a chance to talk to him a bit about the book, how much I liked it and we ended up talking about CoffeeGeek a bit. Mark was very intrigued by the site, one he hasn't seen yet, and even mentioned an offer of writing a review or two for the website, on coffee-related books. How cool is that?
After the get together, we went back to our hotel, and I found out that the Prof and Barry and his lovely wife June were staying at the same hotel as I was - the Quality Inn. Barry, Kyle Anderson and Kyra Kennedy from Baratza, and myself went down to the hotel bar to have some drinks and talk shop, gossip, and whatever. Most of what was discussed was off the cuff, gossipy stuff that I won't mention here (I donít want to betray confidences), but I also learned even more things about Bar that I didn't know - like his love for history. I mentioned that Darryl Raher a director and producer of various shows on the US History channel was considering coming to the show, but a personal matter prevented it, and we briefly talked about how a shame it was - especially what Darryl is going through.
Saturday, SCAA Day One
I got to the show early, about 1 hour before the floodgates opened. Thanks to the pass that Kyle and Kyra gave me (I was "Baratza Staff"!!), I had unlimited access to the show floor, including early admittance. Sweet. I walk in, and the first big booth I recognize is Rancilio's space. I finally got to meet Glenn Surlet and Brian Pearson of Rancilio N.A. and was very happy to do so. Both Brian and Glenn are first rate guys, and they have that feature I appreciate most in people in the machine business - they're passionate about what they do and the equipment they sell. I got a quick tour of Rancilio's new gee-whiz stuff in their commercial line (that Class 10 is one serious kick ass machine, I'll have a further write up on it on the CoffeeKid.com site at some point), and the Class 12 super auto looks fantastic.
I made arrangements for a breakfast type thing with the Rancilio guys the next morning, and then tried to head to the Baratza booth. It wasn't easy. Even though the doors hadn't opened yet, all the trade people were around, and were discussing biz. I was in heaven.
Before hitting the Baratza booth, I stopped in on the Nuova Simonelli guys, and got to meet my friend Roberto Bresciani and also see Tom Bresciani, one of the oldest continuous importers of espresso machines into North America. I also got a great first look at the "new" old machine - the Victoria Arduino masterpiece! Nuova Simonelli bought the remnants of V.A., and have resurrected the line. First up are the commercial machines, and I have a picture somewhere here of the beautiful, hand-hammered 3 group tower they're now selling. Soon, consumer / prosumer Victoria Arduino machines will be coming to market, and Rob has promised CoffeeGeek at least one of them for a Detailed Review. Again... too sweet.
At this point, the floodgates opened, and the crowds were in. I made my way to Baratza's booth and helped for the first short while, attempting to pull some serious shots on the SL series machine (I did promise Kyle and Kyra that I would try to pull some spectacular shots on it - I dunno if I succeeded or not). I did have one key help - I had some amazing beans from the fellows down at Supreme Bean. Kevin, Jeff, and Phil are the guys behind this dynamo roasting company, and I highly recommend you seek them out if you want some amazing blends. They were, without a doubt, the class of the show. They don't have a website yet (hrmmmmm), but I'll attempt to get contact info for you. Phil might be writing for CoffeeGeek, which jazzes me up big time - he knows his stuff, and the beans prove it.
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| The Aisles at SCAA before the crowds... click to enlarge. |
| The Aisles at SCAA with the crowds... click to enlarge |
| Glenn (left) and Brian (right) tuning the Class 10 machine before the crowds show up. |
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| That beautiful Elektra 1960s Retro machine, with its custom cart, looking' good, mano. Click to enlarge. |
| The Elektra machine's barista side of things, still looking good - even better in fact. Click to enlarge |
| Closeup of the Elektra machine. This is one serious piece of artwork - rosewood handles, pastel yellow finish, superior attention to details. Click to enlarge. |
I then made my way over to the Elektra booth to pay my respects to Dr. Federico Frednan, and google at the wow-factor (in design) Elektra lineup. I wasn't disappointed - Elektra machines can perform, and they look damned good doing it. No Belle Epoque this year though.
Next up was Shannon Wheeler, who has a booth. Shannon draws the Too Much Coffee Man website. I think Kevin from Supreme Bean went and chatted me up to Shannon before I got there, because when I did, Shannon was very excited to meet me when I was introduced. I'm seriously humbled - I was in near awe of meeting the guy. He autographed a copy of his most recent book for me (I brought it to the show), drawing ME as Too Much Coffee MARK. Too cool. Shannon and I got to talking, and well, I don't want to give away too much yet until it's finalized, but TMCM might just become a CoffeeGeek staple, who knows.
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| Alan Frew and David Lewis from alt.coffee drop by the Baratza booth for a chat and looksee at the HotTop. Click to enlarge. |
| Kyra Kennedy (center) was a bit freaked at the smoke the HotTop was making courtesy of Victoria (I think), the woman on the left from Chang Yue. Josie Hein is on the right. Click it! |
| The beautiful, hand hammered Victoria Arduino, as done by Nuova Simonelli. Click it! |
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| Tom Bresciani (I hope I spelled that right) from Nuova Simonelli and Espresso Cappuccino Machines beside a great NS machine. Click it. |
| The HotTop drew crowds all day long at the Baratza booth. Click to enlarge. |
| Chad from espresso Vivace pulled me what was definitely the best shot of the day. Sorry to the woman eating for getting you in the pic! :( Click it. |
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| You asked for it, you got it - the Mazzer E. Unfortunately, I couldn't get any solid info... click to enlarge. |
| ... the Mazzer people saw "Manufacturer" on my badge, and barely gave me the time of day. Not too good, boys. :) Click to enlarge. |
| Cafe Rosto "Pro" mini roaster model that can do anywhere from a few hundred grams to 3 lbs. Click to enlarge. |
The rest of the day was spent meeting a lot of people I knew via phone, email, or newsgroups, but not in person. I met Randy Glass and Alan Frew (finally!!!), I hooked up briefly with many other alties, and I got to meet with the Thermos Nissan folks, and the Bodum folks.
Let's talk about Thermos Nissan first. Lori was the woman I met there, and she helped arrange for CoffeeGeek to get about $700 worth of Nissan products for a Detailed Review (the stuff arrived last week). She asked me if everything was fine, and I joked (really joked) that, "well, I was sorta kinda hoping you would have the Ti thermos in there...". She goes "oh, you didn't get one? Hold on..." as she goes to the cupboard and gets one for me. A $150 slim briefcase thermos. Wow. And you know how much I love you CoffeeGeeks? I'm gonna give it away, along with some other Nissan products, once the review is done. That's how much I love you guys. :)
Bodum. Jeff Malkasian is a guy I've been in contact with for a while. He even sent Jorgen Bodum my article I wrote a month or two ago (see article here). Jeff and I talked shop and Bodum's future plans. I got some news for you folks. One part I'll say today: The Bodum eSantos is now in two sizes... there's the current 12 cup model, and a new 5 cup (25 oz) model with no electronics - just on/off switch. SWEEEET. I begged Jeff to get me one, and he said, well, it ain't passed UL yet, but maybe... :) My second Bodum news is coming tomorrow.
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| Too Much Coffee Man's Shannon Wheeler (centre), his partner Molly (left) and David Kastle of Royal Coffee (great guy! knows his stuff too). Click to enlarge. |
| Shannon signs my copy of his latest book... with a drawing of me as Too Much Coffee Mark! Awesome!!! Click to you know what. |
| Bodum's new lil' brother to the eSantos - the eSantos i (my name). Won best of show for new products - cool! Click to bigger. |
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| Jane and friends from Espresso Supply, out of Seattle. Hi Folks! Click it! |
| Russ Dentz from Coffee Bean Corral. Great guy, it was a pleasure meeting him. Click the pic! |
| Bob and Cea Smith from Smithfarms. I finally got to meet them! Click it! |
Other Day One Tidbits
- Most of the folks I met were very nice people, but some folks really stood out - Russ Dentz from www.CoffeeBeanCorral.com for example. Russ, it was a serious pleasure to meet you.
- Did I mention how cool it was to meet Shannon Wheeler? Oh yeah, I did. He drew my picture too. Oh wait, I said that already.
- The HotTop was a hit - crowds galore, lots of interest. Kyle Anderson's coming around to it too.
- News for the Maui Moka Lovers out there... I spoke to Richard from Kauai Coffee, and serious attempts to revive Maui Farms are underway. The condos may not get that land just yet.
- Met the Smiths (website) and it was great. Cea's a bundle of energy!
- I don't like the Dietrich guys. I'll explain why tomorrow.
- I'm neutral on the new Jura guys. Again, I'll explain tomorrow.
Dinner with the Alties
Saturday night, we had dinner with the alt.coffee crowd. Way too many people took my picture. Hell, Chuck from www.coffeewholesalers.com captured about 50 mbs worth of mpegs of me, the bastard. :) Cea Smith couldn't stop snapping my picture. No pictures please. I hate having my picture taken. Grr.
The dinner was awesome - food and company. We went to Brennan's Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney, and it was really good meeting folks like Paul Woo, Alan, GW, David, the Prof, everyone! Paul stands out for me - he's a great guy, getting into the biz in a big way (he's getting into roasting).
And Barry Jarrett (www.rileys-coffee.com). What can I say. I finally got to meet my sensei, and his name is Barry, and I came away with an even greater appreciation for the guy - when they made Barry, the broke the mould. I can't say any more about him without embarrassing the crap out of him but suffice to say - I'm not the only one who feels this way about Bar... the guy has garnered the respect of many heavyweights in the industry.
Tomorrow: Day Two at SCAA! Look for it after midnight, Monday Night.