SCAA Conference April 2011

The Specialty Coffee Association of America meets once a year.   Their primary goal is to “ensure that the extraordinary potential of coffee is discovered, revealed, and delivered” by serving “coffee professionals in their quest to learn, grow, and collaborate for the betterment of the specialty coffee industry.”  I had been told by various people in the industry that if you enjoy coffee, the SCAA show will blow you away.  Having never attended a show before, I had my own expectations.  Though I was excited about the classes offered, I expected to see a conference hall filled with coffee additives and barista-focused booths.

This year the show was held in Houston and it was massive.  There were at least 10 football fields worth of show floor.  Farmers and product movement providers hawked coffee to enthusiasts.  We met experts from every step of the coffee-crafting business.  We also saw many OCS contacts and enjoyed looking over all the coffee-shop products.

Beyond the excitement of the floor, our team took classes in green bean grading, profile roasting and green coffee contracts.  The classes were excellent and provided insight to the path every coffee bean travels.  We created relationships with providers who are dedicated to bringing top-quality specialty-grade beans to roasters like ourselves.  Most important, we learned how to properly evaluate samples and grade them according to the specialty-grading system.  This is where I really felt my passion for coffee explode.  My mind immediately turned to our beans back home.  We can input these best practices with our roasters and ensure our loyal coffee drinkers the best.

Participating in the conference made me proud to be in the coffee industry.  It is a great community dedicated to excellence.  We met many farmers who sell the coffee we roast, and it was great to let them know we appreciate their hard work.

If you are interested in learning more about the SCAA, check out their website at   The video at will also give you a good feel for what we experienced at SCAA this year .