Sacramento’s Debutante Ball

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[O]ther than the consummate triumph of landing www.specialtycoffeeweek.com as its URL, Sacramento Specialty Coffee Week is just your average coffee event. You know, the kind with crazy beer collaborations, popup coffee, and a traveling Nitro Trike; meet the producer sessions and public tastings; lectures on local coffee history; a home-roasting competition; and a make your own art on burlap coffee bags contest, among many other events. The kind you plan a year in advance. The kind that acts like a magnet for coffee lovers of all stripes, from media to new customers, and the kind that has an exhausted but exhilarated Edie Baker saying at 6:30 in the morning from behind her custom La Marzocco Strada, “Collaboration makes all of this so much fun.”

That kind.

Sacramento Specialty Coffee Week began with a phone call from Sean Kohmescher of Temple Coffee Roasters to Edie and Andy Baker of Chocolate Fish Coffee Roasters, last fall. “We created SCW to celebrate specialty coffee in Sacramento, and to increase awareness of specialty coffee for consumers,” says Edie, and first steps first: figuring out when to hold the event—a challenge, since fall in Sacramento is a busy time. They settled on October 13–19.

Next, they wrote guidelines for participation, including categories for events: Coffee Preparation, Competition, Education, Farm to Cup, Pushing Boundaries, and Tasting. Kohmescher and the Bakers chose not to include sponsors for this year’s events, wanting it to evolve more naturally without moneymaking involved. “Everyone who is organizing this is donating everything,” says Baker. “Sean [Kohmescher] had all the posters and postcards printed up, we had mugs printed, and we all donated our time. EMRL [a Sacramento advertising agency] donated the website.” The organizers are also working to keep admission costs to classes low or non-existent, with all proceeds donated to a charity, whether it is Vaneli’s donating the $10 fee for a coffee tasting and dessert pairings class at Coffee Kids or Temple or it’s Chocolate Fish donating the $5 fee for their tastings to Finca la Merced’s school-building project.

Momentum is building. Sacramento’s journalists have a history of standing behind the coffee culture, and photoshoots, interviews, and anticipatory articles are snowballing. Recently the Sacramento Caffeine Crawl, which I helped organize, acted as a test run, and it was hugely successful—selling out before the event, with solid media coverage the week of the Crawl, and caffeinated fun pulling in a wide variety of businesses including Vaneli’s, Temple, Chocolate Fish, Insight, and Old Soul Co., among others. Baker says, “It was a bit worrisome in the beginning, not being certain it would go off, but we are getting excited about it.”

—Emily McIntyre is a regular contributor to Fresh Cup.

—Photo by Kevin Cortopassi.

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