We DMed People About The Highlights of SCA Expo—These Were The Best Moments


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Cover photo by Jenn Chen

We’re still buzzing from this year’s Specialty Coffee Expo, held in Chicago from April 12 to 14. If it felt like there were a lot of people, you’re not wrong: this was the largest Expo ever, with over 17,000 attendees flying from across the globe to walk the expansive show floor. 

The weekend was jam-packed: tons of coffee brands unveiled new equipment, new world coffee champions were crowned, and conversations continued at dozens of off-site events and parties scattered throughout the city (we saw lots of folks hit up the recommendations we made on our Chicago coffee and restaurant guide—did anyone end up attending a baseball game?) 

We know what got us jazzed—and we shared it with you a few days ago. But seeing everything at a trade show with hundreds of booths and events is impossible. So, we decided to DM attendees about their experience and tell us what they loved and can’t stop thinking about. Here’s what they had to say: 

Miranda Haney, Barista Friend, Austin, Texas

“It was super inspiring to meet so many coffee producers at Expo this year. From a barista’s perspective, that’s such a rare experience and one that I did not take for granted! I also thoroughly enjoyed playing Leaderboard Live at Dayglow, learning more about innovative superautomatic machines at the Mavam and Rancilio booths, and meeting a TON of cool roasters from Canada at the Roaster’s Village! 

Other highlights: the Spirit Tea honey alpine popcorn (can we have this all the time??), pistachio milk, and witnessing Venezuela being represented on the World Brewers Cup stage for the first time ever.” – 

Laura Clark, Kansas City, MO. 

“The most exciting thing about Expo this year for me was seeing my friends as always. This year felt different because I saw my friends do the things they’ve been working towards for a long time. It’s amazing seeing the community coming out to support the community in a big way.” 

Michael Craig, Creature Coffee, Austin, Texas

“I love going to Expo! This is where our group of coffee nerds comes to learn, grow, and party together! There’s new coffee tech, exciting new coffees, the country’s best baristas, and the world’s best producers, all under one roof, sharing the same passion. We also met our Guatemalan producers one night and shared a whiskey! The ideas, the passion, and the forward momentum we get from our Expo adventure are well worth the journey.”

Jasmin Mitchell, Planta Coffee, Dallas

“My favorite thing about Expo wasn’t the many brands that we all know and love, the cups of coffee I sampled each day, or the lot of freebies that we all took home. For me, it was the people! 

We all showed up authentically in our element, sharing what we love and thriving in what we do best. This event was far from pretentious. It was an overwhelming sense of belonging and camaraderie. It was as if we were all reflections of one another, and the magic that filled each room over the weekend was more than any of us could ever imagine. It was the joy we all needed and all for the love of coffee.”

Mir, Verb. Coffee Roasters and Spiller Park, Atlanta

“Expo this year felt different. It’s my fourth SCA Expo, and before this year, I’d never considered how similar this is to a family reunion. People I met my first year in coffee a decade ago are still in this industry making waves, which is incredible. Expo this year gave me life and inspired me on levels I’d had yet to experience. I am humbled and excited to see how far we can all grow.”

Sandra Loofbourow, Loupe Coffee Consulting, Oakland, Calif.

“Expo can feel like a family reunion. For those of us who have been in the industry for many years, whose work has taken us beyond our original trajectories and into the wide world of coffee, this might be the one time a year when we are able to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances. 

There is so much value in these social interactions and friendships, but there’s work to be done, too! You can pack your weekend full of back-to-back meetings on the show floor or cram as many outside and after-hours activities as possible into your calendar. Either way, there’s almost never enough time to do everything on your list. 

I left this weekend convinced that with the right amount of preparation and just enough sense of adventure, Expo can be a productive, invigorating, and inspiring experience (if still a little overwhelming).” 

Rachel Apple, Coffee Consultant, Boston

“This was, to me, the best Expo back since 2020. The energy and vibes and energy were so high, and even though the space was huge and I did have to jog to make it from the floor to the workshops and back, it was beautiful.  

Chicago is a storied city for eating and drinking, and getting to share that with other sensory folks was so fun. It felt like my (elder millennial) generation is coming of age and getting some seats at decision-making tables, and that shifted the tone and experience for me overall. I love seeing my friends win, and there was tons of that this weekend.”

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Lydia Stolper

Based in Austin, Texas, with her family, including three cats and a dog, Lydia has loved coffee for as long as she can remember. In her free time, Lydia loves listening to audiobooks, traveling when she can, and visiting as many coffee shops as possible.

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