SCA Expo Three-peats in Seattle


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For the third straight year, the Specialty Coffee Association filled the Washington State Convention Center with thousands of coffee professionals and enthusiasts from around the world for its annual Global Specialty Coffee Expo, which took place from April 19–22, 2018.

Highlighting the dynamic growth of specialty coffee around the world, China was named the 2018 Portrait Country. The Chinese delegation provided many attendees with their first taste of coffee from this fast-emerging specialty coffee origin, where annual growth rates of Arabica production are nearing 20 percent. Currently, almost all of China’s coffee production comes from the Yunnan province, although Hainan is coming online quickly right behind.

Traditionally a tea-drinking country, China’s coffee consumption is increasing nearly as fast as production, growing 16 percent per year over the past 10 years. Its expected to skyrocket in the years ahead as Western-style coffee culture gains a foothold.

Global Specialty Coffee ExpoIn addition to China, contingents from Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Brazil, Ethiopia, Burundi, Uganda, Guatemala, and many other origins showcased their green beans to curious coffee roasters and retailers from near and far. Complementing them was a vast assortment of products ranging from machinery—including the US unveiling of the Rancilio Specialty, Wilbur-Curtis’s new GemX series, and the Modbar Espresso AV, the first machine designed fully in partnership with new parent company La Marzocco—to food and beverage items, and the latest in information technology to support every link in the coffee supply chain.

The Product and Design Awards

The big winner of the 2018 Best New Product Awards was Coffunity, which won both the Technology Award as well as Best in Show for its crowdsourcing coffee rating app. Award-winners also included Ground Control for its visually arresting batch brewer, Breville for its Barista Touch machine aimed at the home espresso enthusiast, the Soma Brew Bottle, the Precision Series by Detpak, Turmeric Concentrate by Dona Chai, Pacific Foods Barista Series Oat plant-based alternative milk, Pono 2018 by Savor Brands, and LalCafé Intenso, an innovative yeast for wet coffee processing.

Clean, minimal, modular design was the unifying hallmark of winners in the 2018 Design Lab Awards. First place in the Packaging division went to Philadelphia’s Elixr Coffee Roasters and its “simple design for complex coffee” created by the design team of Smith & Diction. Elixr’s package features standardized matte black boxes enclosed by a suite of customized stickers that visually speak to the beans inside.

Additional design awards went to Wisconsin’s Kickapoo Coffee Roasters in the Spaces category, and Soma scored a second overall award, this time in the Vessels category.

Coffee Championships

Away from the show floor, animated competitions took place among baristas, brewers, roasters, and tasters at the 2018 United States Coffee Championships.

Global Specialty Coffee Expo
2018 U.S. Barista Champions. 
Global Specialty Coffee Expo
2018 U.S. Brewers Cup Champions. 

Local favorite Cole McBride of Seattle, Washington, won a trip to the World Barista Championships, taking place in Amsterdam this June 20–23, 2018, for his first place showing among baristas. McBride, an independent coffee consultant currently slinging shots at Stumptown on 12th Avenue, showcased a natural process coffee from Hacienda La Papaya produced by Juan Pena out of Ecuador and roasted by Velton’s Coffee Roasting Company in Everett, Washington.

Also heading to Amsterdam are 2018 US Brewers Cup Champion Becca Woodard of George Howell Coffee in Boston, Massachusetts; 2018 US Roaster Champion Ian Picco of Topeca Coffee Roasters in Tulsa, Oklahoma; and 2018 US Cup Taster Champion Ken Selby of Visions Espresso in Seattle, Washington.

After calling Seattle home for the past three years, the Expo will move across the continent to the East Coast next year and take place in Boston, Massachusetts, from April 11–14, 2019. Coffee and chowder, anyone?

Global Specialty Coffee Expo
2018 U.S. Tasters Cup Champions. 
Global Specialty Coffee Expo
2018 U.S. Roaster Champions. 


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Peter Szymczak

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