To experience the wonder of a coffee convention with no two coffees alike is opening pandora’s box. Three days of abundant diversity – coffee, palates, techniques, and equipment. Thinking you already know what to expect, yet are delightfully surprised.
Last weekend we got to be a part of one of the biggest shows in the specialty coffee industry. We were in Boston for the 2019 Coffee Expo and we had a blast. With the World Barista Championship and the World Brewers Cup happening at the same time in the same place, the convention center was filled with professional and home coffee enthusiasts. There were booths and exhibits of the best in class equipment, accessories, and of course, origin specialty coffee.
Our goal for Expo is all about connections. It is our opportunity to engage with the community. To listen and learn from the trends, theories, innovations, and the scientific and engineering breakthroughs that are driving coffee preparation to new horizons. Although we share our story and our awesome products, we appreciated the personal interactions and relationships we build with knowledgeable individuals and companies from all over the world the most.
We hosted some brilliant coffee people and roasters on our brew bar that helped us keep our visitors caffeinated. Competitive champs like Todd Goldsworthy from Klatch Coffee Roasters and Kaley Gann from Messenger Coffee who have both won the US Brewer’s Cup. Old time friends like Michelle Johnson who runs The Chocolate Barista and Jack Fleming showcasing his roasting project called Recluse Coffee. And talented baristas and new friends like Lance Hedrick from Onyx Coffee Labs, Manny Hernandez from Verve and Abigail Perez from Methodical Coffee to round up our brew bar service.
The preferred brew methods were Kalita Wave and Hario V60, although we had Chemex and AeroPress available too. Everyone was familiar with our Fellow kettles and Acaia scales so brewing on bar was a piece of cake. And no, I didn’t forget Ray Murakawa, visionary of Melodrip. He was on the brew bar using his innovative and out-of-the-box techniques. We learned a lot of different things from our guest brewers, but Ray’s story and product summed it all up. His insight on coffee’s truly, unpredictable behavior opened our conversations. With so many baristas, brew methods, techniques, and single-origin or blend coffees, our palates struggled to keep up with what is good. This is the beauty and complexity of coffee, that, in Ray’s words, “coffee behaves the way it wants to, whether or not our intentions are scientific or purely casual.”
I know I haven’t talked about the grinders we were using yet. So here it is: we had the Sette 270Wi and the new Virtuoso+, both favorites in their specific categories, but multipurpose nonetheless. The Sette 270Wi, with it’s grind-by-weight capabilities allowed for a quick and easy brewing process. No need to weigh each batch, just press a button and grind straight into the Kalita or v60. Many of the baristas were exhibiting delicate roasts, so the Virtuoso+ showed off its new digital timer and helped master those brews with great clarity in the cup. In reflection, both grinders stepped up the game and brought out different attributes of the coffees.
Back to Ray and everyone brewing at our booth. The thing that stuck out the most was seeing and tasting so many different approaches to brewing coffee. It made me appreciate the personal exploration of coffee itself and how untamed it really is. The farming process, the roast development, the grind, the method, the pour; it all comes together to extract these sort of unpredictable flavors of a tiny bean. With the use of our skills and mainly our palate, we can only try to get as close to the full potential, the distinctive taste of specialty coffee. I’m proud that our multipurpose grinders are a key part of that journey, and still do not define it. They allow you to unlock different experiences. Rather than being rigid in our tools, techniques and processes, it’s fun to think about the taste adventures that come from exploring other ways of brewing and expanding our knowledge.
“We grind, you brew” reinforces the variety in our community. The diversity in coffee found, and yet to be discovered, is so broad. We cannot put it in a box or package it to easily replicate. Even if we did, our palates could differ. That’s why our grinders are multipurpose. Because there is not one single approach. You may find a common denominator, but the number of possible results from a varied crop like coffee is infinite. And we love that thought!