Who exhibits at industry trade shows might disappoint you, too. Yes, there are roasters, green coffee importers and brewer manufacturers, but there are lots of others too. Packaging machines, de-stoners (which remove rocks left in green coffee beans), degassing machinery and even store security systems. Most of this stuff is totally unimportant to consumers, and besides, none of it will fit in your home.
I’ve walked around trade shows for years in order to learn about coffee. While I made many friends and found resources to lead me to discover the beans and gear that interested me, much of that wasn’t at these shows. And if it was, they weren’t eager to meet a writer/consumer who might at most, buy one item. It just doesn’t square with their mission. You can’t blame them. The dynamic is all wrong.
CoffeeCon is 100% aimed at consumers. The focus is tasting and learning how to brew. Coffee is a cooking art. If you’re into coffee, you know this already. Like any cooking art, you want to see how others achieve those perfect cups of coffee. I’ve invited my “A” list of experts. You will find no other event in the world today that boasts our group’s combined level of accomplishment.
Industry coffee employees need to find the latest products designed to manage inventories. They also need everything from cash register accounting software to ways to store roasted beans so they will maintain freshness through long supermarket distribution and warehousing. These are important issues, but not to you and me. I want to sharpen my espresso technique, try a brewer I’ve only read about and learn how to make beautiful designs with foamed milk. Meeting the experts is fun and useful too. So is meeting other coffee enthusiasts minus a bunch of street hustlers. And meeting them at CoffeeCon is a low-pressure venue, where they aren’t being barraged by other industry players looking to connect.
The Specialty Coffee Association and Coffee Fest do a good job putting industry trade shows together. We urge anyone heading into a career in coffee to attend them. But, our focus is taste, aroma, knowledge and community with each other, in a relaxed atmosphere. For that reason we feel we’re unique.
The experts are unique at CoffeeCon. Too often the marketing departments send sales people to do the seminars. As much as I like many of them, a lot of them are wannabe performers and have little content. Every expert has been handpicked by me. I’ve asked people who are at the leading edge. No one has lived their life for coffee like George Howell. Geoff Watts developed the seasonality trend. He spends half his life at coffee farms. Oren Bloostein has spent thirty years looking for that special something he regards as good enough for his store. He’s also brewed more cups in a Chemex coffeemaker than its inventor did. Jim Schulman’s vocation is espresso. That’s his baby and I’ve yet to find anyone more dedicated. And so on.
You just won’t get a class on how to use a French press taught by a marketing executive. Some of them can do it, but it’s just not how I’m developing this event. I want you to meet the people who are out there. I never again want to see you apologizing for the coffee, nor the attention you pay to making it right. I consider each person I’ve lined up to be the top of the game. They are also positive enablers.
So, there you are. A fun-filled day, but also an instructive one if you want it to be. I want to change lives. I want you to be able to enjoy that getting-more-expensive-all-the-time coffee you bought with your hard-earned money. Really enjoy it. Trade marketing has its place but not at CoffeeCon. Welcome to the real thing.