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SCAA Long Beach 2007 Day 2
Author: CoffeeGeek Staff
Posted: May 6, 2007
Article rating: 7.8
feedback: (18) comments | read | write

Day two at the 2007 SCAA Show in Long Beach will have us hitting the floor hard, checking out interesting new products and upgraded old ones, talking to home roaster makers, consumer machine companies, and even a pro company here and there. We'll also have some coverage of the Semifinals round of the USBC, and some notes from interesting seminars and discussions.

 
Coffee is Culinary...
Posted by Cindy Taylor, 7:30am Permalink to this blog entry

For this morning, I've decided to attend the two culinary track courses being offered, Why Great Restaurants Need Great Coffee and Coffee and Its Place at the Table: Within and Around the Savory and Sweet.

Chef Jimmy Sneed taught the first session. He was entertaining, fortunately, because I'd only had one cup of coffee following a night of too much tequila.  However, looking back at the notes I scribbled during Why Great Restaurants Need Great Coffee, it seems to me the session can be summed up thus:

- Dining is theater and espresso is a memory, it's all about the whole experience
- It's the roaster's job to educate the chef

Being acquainted with a chef that understands the importance of quality coffee, I'm not sure I agree entirely that it has to be the roaster's job. After all, it doesn't seem as though a roaster have many opportunities to educate a chef if the restaurant hasn't invited a quality roaster to supply them with coffee. One would think chefs should inherently recognize that quality coffee perfectly complements the quality of their dishes.

Unfortunately for me, the sequel to this session, "How to Sell Great Coffee to Great Restaurants" is a class in the Roaster-Wholesaler track, so I won't get to find out exactly what the roaster's job entails. On to Coffee and Its Place at the Table...

 
Early Sunday Morning...
Posted by Mark Prince, 9:40am Permalink to this blog entry

Well, it was pretty painful to get to the show as early as I could this morning. Way too much Petron and other imbibations last night at the great Cafe Imports party the night before. (as a side note, one of Cafe Import's managing partners, Jason Long got his start as a home roaster using popcorn poppers and air roasters! And not too long ago! Now he's sourcing and selling some of the world's best coffees to some of the top roasters in the US and the world).

But I knew I had a responsibility to you, the dear reader, so at a time I normally never exist at on a Sunday morning (8am), I got up and headed off to the second day at the SCAA.

No hotel coffee for me. One of the great things about having an all access press pass is that I'm able to get into the USBC training room. I guess not judging any longer also helps. But that means I'm able to get shots and americanos from the United States' best baristas as my morning kick start. And boy, did I.

When I got there, both Kyle from Stumptown and Eton from Groundwork Coffee were in full on practice mode. I had some shots of Eton's 'spro, and it was flowing fine, though he felt it needed some work, and ran off to retune his blend (he brought all the blend back to the practice area, and started mixing with a scale!).

Kyle's shots were just over the top. Some of the best Hairbender shots I've ever had in my life. Sweet, chocolate, fruits, aftertaste to die for. It was heaven.

After becoming sufficiently caffeinated by these two pros, I went out and watched about half of Heather Perry's Semi Finals performance. Ironically, she was on the middle machine - and this machine was having problems, some serious ones. Already the day before, Steve Fritzen had to file a protest because of the machine, and got a redo because of it. And there was Perry on the same machine. Later in the Day, Cho and others will be on that machine as well.

But from what I could see, she was fully in the zone. This wasn't the Heather Perry of 2003, chattering like an excited student. This was a refined, professional Barista who knew everything she was doing, and doing it all exceptionally well. Heather doesn't get talked up much in the 3rd wave cabal, and that's a shame - she knows her stuff. Her constant high placing and winning in regionals and nationals should speak volumes.

I posted a bunch of new photos to flickr of this segment, but here's some CG hosted imagery to keep you sated as well.
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Kyle Larson
Practicing, and always having a good time
Barista Setup
One of the competitors' setups in the back.
Pulling shots
Kyle pulling shots as the Stumptown Crew looks on
Eton practicing
Eton was using a Nuova Simonelli grinder.
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Eton's tasty shots
These were sooooo good.
Heather Perry
Crowd was way too small, but it was early Sunday.
Working...
As judges look on. Notice Barry is all pants now ;) I didn't see shorts once on him all weekend.
Pouring the Capp
Heather professionally pouring her cappuccinos.
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Getting ready
Heather is ready to serve the judges their drinks.
Tasting!
Heather's cappuccinos are served to the sensory judges.
Explaining the capp
Heather wasn't the chatty 2003 version - she knew her drink and told the judges what to expect. According to Andrew Barnett, they got it.
What it's all about
The amazing trophy designed by Reg Barber for the USBC.
 
Repeat After Me... Coffee is Culinary...
Posted by Cindy Taylor, 10:00am Permalink to this blog entry

Coffee and Its Place at the Table was presented by Tim Castle and Joan Nielsen, authors of "The Great Coffee Book". The role of coffee in relation to meals throughout history and the use of coffee as an ingredient in cooking were discussed.

I was a little disappointed; I was hoping for more discussion of how to pair single origin coffees with various dishes, but there was little time for that. I've made a note to follow up with the presenters to see if they have more to say on that subject.

 
Rocket Coffee Reserve Blend
Posted by Mark Prince, 10:50am Permalink to this blog entry
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Just had Larry Jones of Rocket Coffee hand me over his latest blend - his new "reserve" line of coffees which amp up the quality a notch even higher than his normally high quality roasts.

This is my favourite part of the SCAA show.

I have to admit, I'm genuinely blessed throughout the year. I get to try on a regular basis coffees from some of the world's best roasters. Every week, I get 3lbs of Intelligentsia coffee to use in testing, and I get regular coffees from places like 49th Parallel, Stumptown, Batdorf and Bronson, Zoka, and other roasteries. That said, sometimes I get into a bit of tunnel vision, and my exposure to the same roasters and their own unique roasting styles makes me very familiar with their coffees. That's not a bad thing! But, it sometimes makes me forget there are even other roasters out there who have their own unique style and offerings. One roastery's interpretation of a #5 Brasil CoE coffee is often very different from another roastery's presentation of that very same coffee.

So one of my favourite things about the SCAA show by far is that I get exposed to so many wonderful coffees from roasters I normally never have contact with. And every year, the quality level and the quantity level of quality roasters goes up, and there's more and more to choose from. I have no doubt that by the time I leave Monday eve, my bag will be filled to the brim with lots of quality coffees. The first I got so far is this one from Larry, and I'm so looking forward to trying it.

(edit on Tues, May 8): tried it - and it rocks. deep manly start to this coffee, reminiscent of sweet, heavy tobacco, but also with a kind of brown sugar middle. Extremely sweet coffee. The middle kind of morphs into red berry chocolate - and I know why - it's a blend that includes Yemen Mocha San'ani - a bold, brave choice to add by Larry. highly recommended. A really nice espresso on the Silvia (using an Anfim "Best" grinder).

 
New Toroid Frothing Pitcher
Posted by Mark Prince, 11:15am Permalink to this blog entry
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Toroid Frothing Pitcher
Here it is - in near production format!
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The Pitcher
I also saw this at Visions' Espresso's booth. The real deal!

A bit of a scoop.

Chris from Espro just handed me their late prototype version of their latest project - the Toroid frothing pitcher.

It's a design they've been working on for a little while ago, and while it may seem familiar, that's only because there's a knockoff already out there that was obtained through less than ethical means when Chris and Co were showing off prototypes last year (my take - not Chris'). I guess it's not the first time a cool, original design has been knocked off.

But this one's the real deal. And it's patented. And I can't wait to try the thing! I already know a couple of Baristas who have, including Bronwen Serna, and they love it.

The design of the pitcher is such that instead of a normal whirlpool swirl you get in a traditional spouted latte art pitcher, this one is designed to do a donut-shaped swirling action, or "toroid" shape. It has a steeper learning curve than normal latte art frothing, but proponents say once you get it, the amount of control you have over the frothing process increases quite a bit.

The toroid action is achieved by the super wide base and the dimpled middle portion of the pitcher. The dimple is quite different from the knockoff out there, so I'm curious about how this plays into this doing what it proposes to do.

I can't wait to get this one home and try it myself.

 
Billy Wilson - Albina Press
Posted by Beata Siwinski, 11:55am Permalink to this blog entry
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Billy setting up
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Serving drinks
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Dosing

I caught Albina Press' Billy Wilson (from Portland, OR), and his performance in the middle of the day today.Watching how he was just full of professionalism and seeing his total drive for perfection in everything he was doing was quite inspiring. Wilson has been doing the Barista competition thing for some time now, and you can see it in his polished performance.

Wilson's signature drink included some interesting pressure extraction device that looked very scientific. My understanding is that it turns liquids (in this case, espresso), into semi-solid globes that burst when the judges drink (eat?) the finished drink (food?). The judges seemed to be quite fascinated by it.

Wilson had a very large contingent in the audience - their loud cheering was fun to be part of, and it helped create a fun, festive atmosphere. As the semi finalist in this round (he reached the semifinals by being the winner of the North West Regional Barista competition), this was his first time competing in the 2007 USBC. We will find out later if he wins a spot in the finals, going tomorrow!

(ed note - unfortunately, Billy didn't make the finals, but that doesn't diminish from the fact that he's consistently one of the best Baristas in the United States).

 
Groundwork Coffee from LA
Posted by Mark Prince, 12:15pm Permalink to this blog entry
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A lot of us in the "high brow" coffee biz are fond of calling LA a coffee wasteland, and thus praising the opening of the new LA Intelligentsia location.

That's a bit harsh. LA may be a coffee wasteland, but there are definite oasis zones in the huge sprawl of a city. One is definitely Groundwork Coffee. Home of people like Ric Rhinehart (SCAA's current 2nd Veep), Eton Sunno (barista extraordinaire), and a lot of top shelf staff, Groundwork's been doing good coffee for quite some time in the LA area.

I was really happy when a bag of their Colombian Los Progresivos Over Quintero microlot was dropped into my greedy paws. I'd heard very minor rumblings about how good all the Los Progresivo micro-lots from Groundwork were, and this one is supposed to be the toppermost of the poppermost.

I think they may be out of this coffee too - the last bits were brought to the SCAA show. But a peruse of their limited offerings shows that they have a constantly changing range of coffees that are literally some of the best in the world.

I noticed that they also have the Bambino, the #2 coffee from the Best of Panama. At the show, I got Intelly's offering of that coffee (I'll post that later); I don't want to sound greedy here, but it would have been cool to also try Groundworks' interpretation of this coffee. One of my favourite things to do is to see how different roasters present the same coffee lot.

I can't wait to try this Los Progresivos microlot offering this week! Woot!

(update: I've now tasted it and what can I say - just another stellar coffee obtained from the trade show! I got massive hits of bittersweet chocolate with a citrus-spice overtone from the coffee. Awesome as a press!)

 
Ecco Caffe Offerings
Posted by Mark Prince, 12:40pm Permalink to this blog entry
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Another new coffee was just handed to me. No... two coffees. No, three coffees!

Andrew Barnett, my good friend, the best judge in the WBC, and a great roaster with Ecco Caffe pulled me aside soon after completing a judging round at the USBC, and handed over three samples of his latest offerings.

Included are the Brasil Cup of Excellence #4 coffee, from Fazenda Sevre do Eine, which I cannot wait to try - in fact, I may find a press or clover to brew it on tomorrow.

Also included is the latest incarnation of Andrew's signature Northern Italian Reserve espresso blend, and another CoE coffee offering that Andrew has to offer very soon on his website.

Ecco Caffe consistently offers some of the world's best coffees in a very interesting roast profile. If you haven't tried them yet, you need to.

 
Visions Espresso
Posted by Beata Siwinski, 2:00pm Permalink to this blog entry
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Walking around the Trade Show Floor, I saw a company that advertises at times on CoffeeGeek, so I figured I should say hello and introduce myself. The company is Visions Espresso Service, and their head office is located in Seattle.

I got to meet Klif Borja, their Sales Manager, and discuss some of their products, the CoffeeGeek website, and a lot more. Visions serves both the professional commercial community of coffee houses and cafes, and the consumer community, with many products that appeal to the home Barista.

I know that Mark recently got a new steaming pitcher from Espro, and I was surprised to see it also on the display shelf at Visions. In the booth, there were a wide assortment of things that would suit any new cafe opening up, including syrup stands, steaming pitchers, portafilters, filter baskets, signage, and many of the obscure things you may not know where to buy if you were opening up a cafe.

There was also a wide assortment of tampers and very colourful cups, which would stand out on in many cafes. When I go into cafes, oftentimes the espresso machine looks boring and it seems like there are paper cups everywhere, stacked here and there. A machine with a nice clean rows of colourful porcelain cups is something that would really appeal to me as a customer walking in; I don't know why more cafes don't do this.

Visions also just had their 20th anniversary last fall and has grown to become one of the the largest espresso service firms in the United States. Check out their website if you're looking for anything espresso or coffee related - they seem to have everything, even those famous "naked" portafilters!

 
Matt Riddle at the USBC
Posted by Mark Prince, 2:15pm Permalink to this blog entry
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How could I not go watch Matt Riddle perform at the USBC?

I am spending most of my time on the show floor this year, but I did make it over to the competition area when Matt was up, because, well, Matt's a friend, and he's also the reigning 2006 USBC Champion, and 3rd best barista in the world. He just finished a few minutes ago as I write this.

I particularly liked (lol!) his uniform choice in the semis. People were shouting out from the audience "love the sweater, Matt!"; but you know what? It shows you don't have to wear a starched shirt and tie to look good and professional while doing this. And you don't have to wear torn t-shirts and ratty jeans either just to have a style. But I digress into a very touchy subject.

Back to the performance. If anything, Matt was like 3x more subdued this time around compared to his WBC performance in Bern last year. Very quiet, serious, focused on the coffee. His Signature Drink, a carbonated candied ginger beverage needed a lot of build time, but he timed it into the performance very well, and was just amazing to watch as a barista.

By my eye, the shots were pouring well, and his milk and latte art were absolutely spot on visually.

Here's how his signature drink happened.

Early on, he chopped candied ginger, and infused it in hot water. It ended up steeping during the entire espresso and cappuccino round. When his sig round came up, he prepped water in a seltzer bottle, carbonating it up, and pulled his shots. He combined the water and shots, and finished off with a lime garnish. Simple, but enticing!

I caught up with Matt after and asked him how his performance went.

"I was more nervous than usual out there this time..." he said. "I thought the coffee was pouring amazing."

Matt also mentioned that he actually decided which milk to use while onstage! "I brought out two milks and steamed a pitcher of each - one was the provided (by the show), the other was Broguere's, and I ended up going with the provided milk because it felt more comfortable." Wow.

Matt's a rock star of the highest calibre. But he's more like the refined star - think Eric Clapton, acoustic Layla, not drug induced Layla. A pure joy to watch and photograph. Here's his photo series on Flickr.


www.flickr.com

 
QuickMill's Booth
Posted by Mark Prince, 2:40pm Permalink to this blog entry

I just finished a short visit to the QuickMill booth. You may know the name because Chris Coffee has done some serious work with them on the Andreja and Vetrano machines to meet 'geek standards.

There was one new product at the QuickMill booth that had me both happy but a bit dismayed. I didn't get the model name, but it's a new "dual heater" brewing machine running (supposedly) fine at 110V.

I say supposedly, because well, only real world testing will tell. The real achilles heel of any 110V machine coming out of Europe is that they usually aren't built from the ground up for 110V. They are designed for Euro-spec, then converted in many cases. Not so much a problem for single boiler or even HX machines - but dual boilers, or dual thermoblocks pose more of a challenge.

I don't want to be overly critical here - QuickMill has shown amazing interest in the N. American market (and demands) through their work with Chris Coffee, and the Vetrano and Andredja machines are proof positive of that. So being the optimist, this new machine with (what I believe) are two thermoblocks inside will stand up to the restrictions of 110V, 15amp service.

That said, the company's rep ran the steam wand while I was there, and it didn't seem to have very much power. And one other downside - the wand is a froth aider type, with no option to put a traditional wand on. Not good.

One huge positive though - and I'm going by memory on this so I could be wrong - but I recall the woman saying the machine should retail around the $550-$700 price range. If so, that'll be the cheapest dual heater machine on the market. Very positive stuff.
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New QuickMill Dual Heater
The new machine, with gauge up front, fairly easy to read lights (one of my usability issues), big reservoir, nice looking machine. But... stupid froth aider! :D
New Machine / Grinder
Another new product, this one with a single boiler, and a built in grinder - essentially the same as their standalone grinder. One of the better looking combo machines I've seen.
Andreja
The heavily "Chrismodified" Andreja machine on display. First time I've seen one in person.
Vetrano
The heavily Chris-Modified Vetrano - the plumbed in machine. Solid.
 
Elektra Second Visit
Posted by Mark Prince, 2:55pm Permalink to this blog entry
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Dr. Fregnan and Instaurator
Talking up the new grinder.
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The new machine
Very usable and impressive.
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Getting into the panel
The hyper control panel.
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Modifying Temps
Nice way of managing temps - set a baseline, and let the barista do incremental changes to that.

My second visit to Elektra's booth came with Instaurator, who I talked up Elektra's grinder to - he was pretty excited to see it.

But mainly, this time around, I got more info about Elektra's other huge product for the show - a brand new machine with a hella lot of features. The machine is designed for the 90% of the market that features PBTCs (persons behind the counter) vs. the 10% with real Baristas, but the machine has a lot of "3rd wave Barista" stuff too. I have some notes, but the following is mostly off the top of my head. I just left Inny at the booth to write this.

I guess the feature they're most proud of is the water system built into this thing. It has a reclamation system for water purification, much simplifying the need to maintain excellent quality water. In fact, water is a big part of this machine's "smarts". You can actually bring in a water expert, and have the machine set up to automatically calcify and mineralize the water to your own specs. And it cleans and maintains things, preventing buildup. Pretty freakin' sweet.

I was much more interested in two aspects - very precise temperature controls in the grouphead, even though it's a heat exchanger machine. Dr. Fregnan of Elektra would not go on the record with some of the magic and science happening inside, but it's obvious a lot of 'geering has gone into this. I'd love to run a Scace on this to check the temperatures, but I believe him when he says its stable.

Control in temps is easy to access via the main panel, going in .25C jumps off the nominal setting. In other words, the tech or cafe owner can set "nominal" at say 96.5C for the grouphead, and then the barista can, on the fly, modify up or down from that spec as the day progresses, and the ambient conditions change how the shot is performing. NICE stuff.

But that barely tips the iceberg. This machine has a LOT of stuff going on inside, and on the panel. It's almost AI -like in its interpretation of "the situation" as the day goes along. Dr. Fregnan showed me one example of this. He underdosed a portafilter, puttin in about 2/3rds the normal coffee volume. He then locked in, and pressed the auto button for "2 short".

Of course, a gusher came out. Normal for that - the volumetric setting programmed for that button would dose out 50mls (or whatever volume they programmed) then stop. And the machine did just that - brewed out into two cups, 25mls each. But it did it in about 13 seconds. And as soon as the shot was done... the panel read "shot underdosed - check dosage / grind on your espresso".

Woah.

Sure, maybe easy enough to program (ie, the machine knows if 50mls comes out in under 20 seconds, show that message), but in a real world cafe, that's gold - the PBTC can call the manager over and say "hey, we have to change the grinder". Nice. I don't know of any other machine that does that.

There's a lot more about this machine. Programmable pressure. Temperature controlled. Really tons of attention paid to usability (ie, mechanical auto buttons; nice lever system for steam and hot water; hot water mix valve; adjustable tray heights; and so much more).

Oh and one other thing I found out at the booth. This year UL changed their requirements for how heating coils in espresso boilers are mounted. This is one of the reasons why La Marzocco's GS/3 is delayed. But Elektra was on top of this - so all their consumer machines - from the Micro Casa a Leva to the Nivola, have gotten a retool. And the Micro Casas have become more end-user friendly. No more situations where if the therm goes, you have to send the machine in - a new safety reset is built into the bottom. And the design inside the base is much "cleaner" now, and easier to service.

 
Putumayo World Music
Posted by Beata Siwinski, 3:30pm Permalink to this blog entry
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Seeing a booth with music CD's is definitely something that I had not expected on the SCAA Trade Show floor. But Putumayo seemed just a like a natural fit.

If you ever listen to the CoffeeGeek podcast, your might have heard some of their tracks on our previous podcasts. Putumayo features music from world's different cultures, it's just like a musical postcards from all over the world.

The range is wide - from acoustic womens pieces, full of soft sounds and sweet messages, to party all night calypso beats that will rock the house down. We already have few of their CD's at home and I'm sure we will be building on the collection.

My favourite part is probably the "cafe" series ones. They have a French Cafe, and an Italian Cafe series, and on the French one, Brigit Bardot sings a song that just puts you in the middle of a French Cafe in the 1950s.

 
Genesis - Gene Cafe Roaster
Posted by Mark Prince, 3:40pm Permalink to this blog entry

Wow, the Gene Cafe roaster booth is busy! This is the third time I've gone by, but each time, the booth reps were busy with potential customers. All I could do is hover, watch, and snap a few photos.

I wanted to ask some questions about the products. I think the Gene Cafe Roaster is simply amazing in 90% of its aspects. It's quiet. It has that very cool, very effective oscillating counter-balancing rotation to mix and agitate the beans while roasting. It has very accurate temperature controls and readings. It does a great job collecting chaff (well, most of the time - I've thrown a few greens its way that clogged up the exhaust grill on the roaster chamber). It does an exceptionally even roast. It's very hands on, and very tyro-friendly with the instant adjustments you can do to temperatures and roasting time.

The 10%? The Gene Cafe, like pretty much every air roaster on the market, and other roasters like the Alpenrost, sucks at cooling down the beans. 10 minutes to go from 455F to 120F is not a good thing. I was hoping to talk to Frank Ahn or another rep in the booth about this, and ways that the machine could be modified to make the cooling better, but I didn't get the chance.

By the way, this is no slight against Genesis here - it was my own bad that I didn't just wait until they had a free moment. They are there at the show to talk to vendors, and I didn't want to interrupt. It was a common thing at this year's show... I'm betting the attendance numbers for the SCAA show are up this year.

And I am sure if I introduced myself and asked for some time, they would have given it to me. I could see it was a popular and friendly booth!

Well enough of that. How about some photos from the booth, including a totally rad transparent version of the Gene Cafe!

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Gene Cafe Digital
Sorry for the bad colour balance. This is a very cool, smokey red colour Gene Cafe with the new digital panel. Someone asked why digital, since the original Gene has great analog controls. In a word: profiles.
Big Exhaust
Here's the original Gene with the new supersized chaff collector. It collects more chaff, but also has a filtration system to reduce smoke output. Best part? You can put a heatsafe-tube (go to Home Depot) on it to vent outdoors.
Transparent Gene!
Woah. Tres cool. A pretty-much working Gene model that's all transparent. See the black fan box on the left? That's the air feed to the roaster. The metal part is the heating element enclosure. Somehow, Genesis has to design a second airflow for cooling away from this hot stuff, to get better cooling.
 
Presso Products from Importika
Posted by Mark Prince, 4:10pm Permalink to this blog entry
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Latest Presso
This is the current Presso model. Nice handle with a good grip.
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Clicker Mat
My first time seeing and using the clicker mat in person. Nice concept - it audibly "clicks" when you are pressing roughly 30lbs of pressure on it.
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Original Presso
I still have my original Presso. Lars should consider redoing this and selling it as a "classic"

So on my first short visit to the Importika Booth, I saw something that made me truly happy.

Sitting off to the side was a shelf dedicated to products from Xpressivo, owned by a fella named Lars. Lars and I go way, way back. He sent me one of his first ever tampers, and it quickly became one of my favourites. I still have it today, what, six years later?

I was very happy to see his latest version of the Presso tamper in the Importika booth, along with another product Lars has been working on for some time - his (still in prototype stage, I believe) Xpressivo clicking tamping mat. It meant that Lars' products would possibly be available in the US again after a rather sour experience he had a few years ago, one I'm actually partially responsible for. Lars was looking for a US importer at the time, and the company I recommended to him ended up not paying him for his shipped wares, so it soured him on doing business over here.

So seeing his products once again on a US importers' shelf was very, very cool.

Importika isn't 100% committed to carrying them yet - they have some limited stock and wanted to gauge interest while at the SCAA show. I hope it goes well. These products that Xpressivo makes are absolutely kick ass, and you should know this: Lars is "one of our own" - a consumer who just got so passionate about espresso that they dove in, and moved to the pro side as a manufacturer / designer.

There's an amazing hand feel to the presso tamper. When I post this, I'll try to snap a pic of my original presso to show that the overall look and feel hasn't changed much; that said, it's definitely one of the most comfortable tampers I've ever used. It is fairly light, being made out of aluminum, though the current model has a lot more weight than my original wood and powdercoated aluminum one does.

Then there's the clicker mat. Lars has been working on it for some time, and I can't wait for this to become available. The way it works is there's an audible "click" (and tactile click too) once you press down with about 30lbs of pressure. I think it's calibrated to allow for the weight of a portafilter. So you put your PF on this, loaded with coffee, and press with your tamper until you hear (and feel) the click. Nice stuff. Innovative, interesting, and great for both the home barista and for the shop training their professional Baristas. It's a heckuva lot smaller than putting a bathroom scale on the counter.

His tampers and other products are a huge hit in Europe, specifically Scandinavia. So much so, the guy has no time, and had to actually shut down his orders through his website for a short time to catch up with demand. I'd love to see them more over here. I still have the original Presso, and still use it frequently.

 
Behmor 1600 1lb Consumer Roaster
Posted by Mark Prince, 5:40pm Permalink to this blog entry

So wow. I'm still working on my notes for this, but here goes.

Had a very interesting and informative visit with the Behmor booth. Two things I noticed right away. First, in the booth along with Joe Behm (inventor of the product) was the CEO of Ronco! You know, the vegematic / pocket fisherman / mr. mike / instant hair / ronco rotisserie folks? And it wasn't Ron Popeil either; apparently, he sold the company last year.

This speaks volumes about several things regarding this roaster: it means awesome customer service if you buy it; it means big funds for product development and maturation down the line; it means ease of availability and use; it means a better price point (more sales = better MAP); and it means potentially, a lot of people are going to come into the home roasting fold.

Second, I noticed right away that the Behmor roaster won one of the prestigious SCAA Trade Show awards: Best New Product: Coffee or Tea Preparation or Serving Equipment (Consumer). Huge congrats on that.

Okay, let's get down to the skinny now. Joe was in full on informercial mode for the visit (I was there with several alties and CoffeeGeek fans, including Marshall Fuss), giving us the full marketing walkthrough on the product. While I do appreciate the explosion of information, I could tell our questions peppered throughout the presentation would throw Joe off a bit, but he'd get back on track soon enough. And I think at times, some of the questions were a bit of the "take the mikey out of ya" kinda questions, which wasn't very nice of us.

Also, I think our questions threw Joe off even more because when he demo'ed a roast, he picked a bad profile - the slowest one the machine has, and for over 20 mins, we were witness to a pretty bad roasting session - one I'm sure is not indicative of the machine's capabilities. I promised to drop by tomorrow for another demo to see the normal and fast roast profiles (ed.note - my bad, I never made it back to the booth).

So many intriguing things about this roaster. The panel and controls seem cool, but I'm betting they could stand some UI tweaking (I bet Ronco will be on that). You could tell this is a serious project from a serious home inventor, and one of the problems with these scenarios we see in the coffee world often is that the inventors become so familiar with a product, what seems insanely easy to them can be confusing for others. But this is a minor thing.

Joe showed us the drum and how it is very intricately designed to maximize agitation and roasting postion - the majority of the coffee will "sit" up against the area where the heat coils are during a roast. He talked through the choice and design of the drum, then moved on to discussing the chaff collection system which is also pretty cool. Shaped a bit like a stylistic "L" when looking at it from the side, it sits entirely in front of the interior of the roaster when in place, but also wraps around the bottom of the drum. You can still see through it fine when the unit is roasting.

Joe also at one point whipped out part of his smoke eating system. I wasn't allowed to take pictures (totally fair enough), and I have to admit being zoned out a bit during this part, but I'm pretty sure what I saw was a miniaturized afterburner design. Looked a bit like a ceramic plate with radiator channels through it and heating coils. I could be entirely wrong.

Then it was time to roast. Again, I think I threw Joe off, because when he started the roast and an interior light went on to let you check the stage of the beans, my photography background took off, and I questioned why he didn't use a daylight balanced light inside (he's using a standard kitchen oven light, which burns very yellow in colour). Again, super minor point and easily remedied - there's gotta be 5000-6000 kelvin colour oven lights out there, no?

The roaster was very quiet during operation. So much so that, even with all the ambient trade show noise, I could easily hear the cracks sitting about 7-10 feet away. And while the roast profile chosen was a bad one, I never smelled smoke from the machine during the entire operation.

On the size - it's pretty small. I'd say it's about the size of a medium-large home toaster oven / convection oven combo. Smaller than Ronco's own rotisserie, for sure. But the size is also deceptive... when you look at it from a three quarter birds eye view, it looks fairly shallow to the back, but when you look closer, it gets fatter (back to front) the lower you go on the machine. This is where I would surmise a lot of the smoke eating and fans and such are.

On cooldown. Okay - we saw it in action, with the front open. I didn't time it personally. Joe said he stopped it after 5 mins, and we all touched the beans, and they were barely above ambient temperatures. Good stuff! But that said, the beans were a very light roast.

Overall, a good demonstration on what will undeniably be a huge thing in the home roasting world. And the best part of it all? The price was set: $299. Holy crap! Can't wait for the informercial!

Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image
Blue Ribbon Winner
Awesome - congrats Joe!
Joe Talks
Tried to get artsy with this photo - and it ends up, this is the only photo of Joe I have!
The Drum
Quite intricate in design, everything paid attention to. Nice work!
Sigh...
Sigh is for my crappy photo skills. This is the unit with the chaff collector in place. Sorry for the blur.
Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image Click for larger image
Drum in Place
The drum in the unit. It's pretty small! I think I'd be happy doing 300-350g roasts in this machine - everything sounds well thought out.
Heating coils
The heating system inside. When the drum rotates, most of the coffee is up against those coils (in the drum).
As it roasts
The roaster in action. If you look close, you can see the chaff collector, but it's easy to see through.
As it roasts
The colour of the light may throw me off, but you can't argue that the beans ain't visible during the roast!
 
Barista Guild Party
Posted by Mark Prince, 11:55pm Permalink to this blog entry

Okie - I know social events were low on the list of things to cover, so this will be the last one, I promise. But it was such a blast.

The BGA had their Barista Party in one of LBC's hottest nightclubs, Cohiba, where cigar smoking is still (barely) in fashion!

It was a great time for us - so many friends to catch up on. I don't think I bought a single drink that night - for myself at least. I kept getting handed drinks after drinks. Gotta love it!

I had a long talk with a few people, including Bill Crossland from La Marzocco about the state of the empire; Carl Sara, reigning 3 time Kiwi Barista Champion, about how the USBC was going. And I even got to chat with the now infamous Tatiana, who put on one of the most fun performances ever seen at a USBC. Spent some time with Jay Caragay (even talked about the infamous PF podcast where I'm uh, heavily discussed), which was very cool. Till he started putting the moves on Beata! (kidding!)

There were three pool tables in the smoking room, though I didn't get any pool time - even though there were three pool tables. Alistair Durie, my fellow Vancouverite, was too busy hustling and rolling the table, that sneaky devil, and I wanted no part. I like my money.

These parties are always a highlight of these events, and yeah, I completely understand why people don't want to read about them - it makes you feel worse for not attending. So I'll round out my Day two coverage with a big thanks to Davinci Syrups as the  sponsor for the party, and the BGA for organizing it. It was a blast. Here's some flickr coverage if you're so inclined.


Scriptless Flickr Badge Scriptless Flickr Badge Scriptless Flickr Badge Scriptless Flickr Badge Scriptless Flickr Badge Scriptless Flickr Badge Scriptless Flickr Badge Scriptless Flickr Badge

Article rating: 7.8
Author: CoffeeGeek Staff
Posted: May 6, 2007
feedback: (18) comments | read | write
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One of the more popular pieces of content on the CoffeeGeek website are the reports from major trade shows. We cover shows like no other media source does - giving first hand intimate and frank reports that give you the real scoop on what's going on, from a consumer and a coffee lover's true perspective.

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