Boston Translation or: A Soulful Synopsis of SCAA
Fourteen days and a thousand miles separate me from my last morning in Boston. Swag sorted, coffee stashed, and sleep recovered, I'm back to normal life in Louisville. Back to writing at a desk, breathing warm, Kentucky air and sleeping in my own bed. Back to wishing I was in Boston.
My hopes were sky-high from when we first booked our spot to the moment we boarded our plane. The SCAA Event was uncharted territory for me, a fantastical land that promised endless fun and fraternization. And, boy, did it deliver!
Booth 1075 was our home base for four long days and from these headquarters a beacon of primawesomeness shone forth. If you weren't around for it, I'll treat you to the full tour.
On the floor
I was overwhelmed and overjoyed by the energy that surrounded our booth all weekend. 'Spro was slung, friends were made, and many a wide-eyed wanderer rushed the Prima Tamp test station. With the chance to get their hands on the tamper, critics became converts before my eyes — a real thrill to watch. The Prima Tamp also made appearances in the Innovation Showcase, Best New Product Competition, and Sprudge's "5 Sexy New Products at SCAA 2013" list.
Our latest original product also made its debut at the booth: the Prima Stand. We worked with a local carpenter in Louisville to craft a gorgeous pour over stand that fits on several popular scales. And, boy, does she look good.
Running the booth wasn't, by any means, a solo act. Besides the Prima team, I had the privilege of working with some of our favorite baristas and coffee roasters right in our space. Thanks to our friends at Barismo, 4A, Crema, Greenway, Quills, Dogwood, and Sunergos, we cranked out cup after cup all weekend. I even got to hang with Gustavo, a producer at a farm in Huehuetenango, Guatemala that sells its coffee to Barismo.
The floor was packed with pretty new toys. Innovation in espresso prep seems to be the thing right now and I got to play with some neat gear that's barely, if even, on the market. La Marzocco, Astoria, Unic, Baratza, and Breville all had fresh, fancy machines to show off, and both Baratza and Breville walked away with "Best New Product" awards at the end of the weekend. But, in the espresso arena, Modbar stole the show. Counter Culture flaunted a sexy reimagination of espresso and pour over setups that drew crowds all day, every day. Modular equipment could mean big changes for cafe aesthetic, barflow, and customer interaction, so I'm curious to see where this goes.
Out the door
For a change of pace, I made a few trips to the Activities Hall, where anxious baristas prepared their routines and caffeinated onlookers cheered. As the Barista Comp, Brewer's Cup, and Cup Taster's raged on, a new contest was picking up speed. Debuting this year, the latte art exhibition pitted baristas against each other and themselves, challenging the versatility and repeatability of their skills. The event drew some top-notch talent, but none held up against Kenny Smith from Louisville's Sunergos Coffee. Kenny took home a Dalla Corte home espresso machine and, along with the other top competitors, a Prima Tamp.
Upstairs, we teamed up with Kalita, La Marzocco, Baratza, and Marco to set up a satellite cafe in the main lobby. Baristas from around the country came to man Boston Translation or: A Soulful Synopsis of SCAAthe station for the entire show and, boy, did they bring the goods. This complete pour over and espresso service, accented by Prima Tamps and Stands, delivered some of the best coffee I had all weekend.
Finally, I made it out of the convention center. Parties were in no short supply, but my favorite evening was spent at Counter Culture's Boston Training Center, where we hosted a rager with CCC and La Marzocco. Cocktails in hand, we danced atop the cupping table until Boston's finest showed up to shut her down. (Why? I've not yet learned.) Sprudge has the rest on SCAA parties, most of which I can confirm were awesome.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of the weekend was what my friend Jason Dominy would call a series of #2Dto3D experiences. These days, so many relationships are limited to short, online conversations, so to see that each of these Twitter handles has a smiling face and a hand to shake was a real joy.
A real joy, indeed.