By Jeremy Martin
With the 2014 SCAA Event just hours from officially kicking off, it might be nice to take a few minutes to consider why we are all here.
Everyone one of us, in some way or another makes our living from coffee. Some people you’ll meet this weekend travel the globe, scouting producing regions; others are hard at work perfecting the next wave of single cup brewing systems, and still others simply earn a few bucks pouring your morning latte. The list of coffee based trades goes on and on.
Nearly 50 workshops, hundreds of hours worth of lectures and speeches, and industry displays filling thousands of square feet will create a deluge of sensory data more immense than most attendees can hope to fully retain.
So why is it than that people travel literally across the world to immerse themselves in an environment as overwhelming as this one?
I’ll give you’re a hint, it has very little to do with coffee.
You see, the social aspect of the SCAA show trumps the technological, agricultural, and industrial advances which fill the pages of the phone book thick program, and for which we are all so proud to show off.
For every high-end machine like the Slayer and the Steampunk, there are hundreds of other displays that go unnoticed; the displays of pleasure, affection, and genuine camaraderie shared by the human beings that will gather in Seattle this weekend.
As early as Thursday afternoon, still a full day away from the ribbon cutting ceremony on the showroom floor, it was becoming glaringly obvious that the true purpose in attending this convention is in finding old friends, shaking hands with former colleagues, and giving bear hugs to people you haven’t seen since last year.
You can see it in the eyes of people as they pass in the hallways, heads on swivels looking around, not for a cup of coffee, but for a familiar face.
I toured the Convention Center this afternoon with my editor and we, or more precisely she, was stopped on no less than six occasions as we walked the 1,500 feet from registration to the arena. I can only recall one conversation that actually revolved around coffee, the rest were about children’s music, travel, mutual friends, and former employers.
Though I wasn’t witness to them all, this was a no doubt an exercise that took place countless times during the day, with untold numbers of people, and will continue until Sunday night when the door finally close on what is expected to be the most well attended SCAA event to date.
I think we’re all excited to see where the specialty coffee industry is trending in 2014 and beyond, and everyone of us is prepared to be a part of that, but it’s the opportunity to be a member of a very real, very active community that continues to be the driving force that brings us back to the SCAA expo and conference each season.
My name is Jeremy Martin, I’ll be covering this year’s event for Barista Magazine. Come find me and say hello, I’d love to share a cup of coffee with you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeremy Martin is a freelance writer and photographer who has reported on coffee, craft beer, college sports, and business for a variety of publications over the past six years. A veteran of the café industry and graduate of Western Michigan University, Jeremy lives in Seattle where can often be found making sandwiches from whatever is left in the fridge and cracking wise for the amusement of his adoring wife Amanda.