Portland Oregon SCAA 2012 quick look

Portland Oregon – a small city and a great big town with a much bigger heart – resting near the junction of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, this North west gem hosted the SCAA 2012 convention.

Photo upper right – the calm before the storm. And the benefit of the press pass!

And by all accounts it was one of the best. For me, it was my first. I have been to my fair share of Seattle coffee fests and Canadian coffee expo’s but this was definitely the bigs.

Portland Oregon is a great place to get acquainted with coffee culture – and to meet up with all the movers and shakers in the coffee biz – because everyone was here.

Photo – Deidrich was king of the roasters at SCAA 2012. Lots of eye candy – lots of interested buyers!

And the city and its coffee brewing folks are a natural back drop to an event this size and of this caliber.

Talking to Matt Milletto of the American Barista School he noted, “Portland is my hometown and we are bursting with pride to be hosting the SCAA…” I have met Matt a few times at various events – and it is always a delight to get “re caught up.”

Andrea and I spent a lot of time walking the trade floor before opening time on Friday morning (Thank you SCAA media/press passes!). It is interesting behind the camera and on the floor prior to opening to feel the palpable energy and to see everyone ready to roll a solid hour in advance of door crashing.

Photo – The newer, bigger, better ESPRO brewer!

In the opening salvos of the SCAA I was busy looking for a comprehensive theme or buzz phrase that would describe what I was seeing and hearing.
“Innovation, evolution and optimism…” came to mind. Times have been tough with the economy the last few years but to be honest, there is nothing wrong with the coffee economy. Nothing at all. There are reasons for this – not really going into that too much here.

There is (or has been a lot of) innovation in the coffee industry the last couple of years and it was all on display here. Some things surprised me. Most everything pleased me. Every kiosk had something going on. There were no duds or lackluster displays. In fact, some of the displays and presenters had some things going on that utterly blew my mind. That will be revealed in my photo mosaic of what I saw.

Rancilio U.S.A. were preaching the virtues of the programmable brew profiling using a kind of old school technology called “Pulse width modulation…” PW Modulation goes back decades but I have never heard it applied to espresso making… so bravo for that!

Bonavita! I talked to Todd of Bonavita and his engineer/inventor associate (I will key in his name later) and the big buzz was about the constant/programmable temperature kettle with non-volatile memory. A snippet about that on the audio piece I will key in. Photo of this lovely device below!

Evolution – Some items that caught my eye:
Alan Adler of Aerobie Industries and the legendary Aeropress. I could not have been happier to see Alan – and I arrived just in time to follow him sprinting to an Aeropress competition on the floor. At 72 years of age, Alan Adler has more energy than the average teenager – and it was delightful to talk to a living legend and to a man who has made such a huge contribution to coffee culture.
Alan and his beautiful grand daughter Constance (who works in marketing for Aerobie) and the rest of the team were always busy at their little booth.

Kyra, Joyce and Kyle (and the rest of the Baratza team) continue to take some great coffee grinding ideas to new heights with better gear boxes, better burrs, getting the bugs out of the old machines and delivering a much more reliable product as a result.

Optimism – From Kyle of Baratza: “Sales have never been better…” Reg James of EspressoTec.com “This has been a very good year so far…”
Here is the thing about coffee: You cannot eat pizza every day, but when you get hooked up to a great cup of coffee, you have to have it every day… without exception.

In our next installment, we will get down to some of the meat and potatoes of the Portland coffee, food and beer scene — and more on 2012 SCAA!