Battle for Seattle

Yesterday, Barista Magazine received a letter from Alan Silverman, founder of Coffee Fest, which discusses the fact that the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) is in negotiations regarding hosting the nonprofit SCAA’s annual conference and trade show, The Event, in 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. In addition, the Washington State Convention Center is holding the space for the SCAA in 2020 and 2021, though the SCAA has not yet decided if it will actively pursue those dates for The Event.

It appears that this letter from Mr. Silverman and Coffee Fest was mailed to all members of the SCAA.

The gist of the letter is that, were the SCAA to host its annual conference in Seattle for so many years, Coffee Fest—which relies on the Seattle installment of its show for a substantial portion of its revenue, as it is the biggest and most attended traditionally of Coffee Fest’s three annual trade shows—would suffer as a business, and that future Coffee Fest attendees might be denied services offered by Coffee Fest as a result. “We believe that the SCAA locating to Seattle for a minimum of six show in eight years will irreparably harm Coffee Fest,” reads the letter.

Earlier today, I posted this to Barista Magazine’s Facebook page: “Lots of discussion re the SCAA potentially moving the annual conference to Seattle for 6 of 8 years, beginning in 2014. Any thoughts?” Much discussion has ensued.

It’s an interesting conversation, and the following ponts are among those that have been raised: the SCAA is a nonprofit, and Coffee Fest is a for-profit business; no one owns the city of Seattle for conferences; and on and on.

In preparation for an article on the topic for the August/September issue of Barista Magazine, I have interviewed both SCAA Executive Director Ric Rhinehart and SCAA President Peter Giuliano, and will be talking with David Heilbrunn and Mr. Silverman of Coffee Fest shortly in order to report fairly on the circumstances.

In addition, I would like to hear thoughts from you, our readers, on this issue. Please feel free to email me at sarah@baristamagazine.com with any opinions—we seek to serve and represent you!

And of course, I urge you to become a part of the discussion on our Facebook page.

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.