Folks, it’s that time of year again, when coffee people from all over are buzzing in anticipation of the upcoming Global Specialty Coffee Expo. Later this week, thousands of coffee professionals and enthusiasts from all over the world will convene in Boston to attend the SCA’s largest trade show - and watch the two World Coffee Championships going on at the same time. As we gear up for another exciting Expo weekend, we wanted to let our faithful fans know what we’re up to this year, and what we’re looking forward to.
At Our Booth: Grinders Galore!
Our booth this year, which you can find alongside Ancap USA at booth 418, is all about espresso grinders. We’re excited to be able to put 9 models on display with two La Marzocco Linea Mini espresso machines, plus a steady supply of Blacksmith espresso from Quills Coffee. All weekend long, you’ll be able to come check out some of the best grinders on the market, compare features and flavors, and score some discounts if you’re thinking of buying soon. Our featured grinders this year are the Baratza Forte BG, Mazzer Super Jolly E, the brand new Mahlkonig E65S, the Mazzer Robur E, Anfim SCODY II, Mahlkonig Peak, Victoria Arduino Mythos 2 Gravimetric, Mahlkonig EK43S, and Mazzer ZM. We feel like this line up of grinders will be a great representation of what grinders are capable of today, and how they meet the needs and priorities of the businesses we serve. We’ll also have a wealth of information about our other commercial offerings, including coffee and restaurant equipment, water treatment, draft and nitro cold brew, our services like build-out consultations and custom wares, even how our in-house creative studio can help your brand. If you’ll be attending the show this year, we can’t wait to see you at booth 418!
On The Show Floor
As equipment nerds, nothing gets us quite as excited as having so much stuff to check out all in one place, so our team will be walking the show floor every day to see the newest and coolest in coffee gear. As usual, we will be sharing our coverage of products and experiences from the show on our Youtube channel and our social media accounts - so be sure to go follow us to keep up to date! This year, we’ve already got a hearty list of things we’re excited to check out, and there will surely be more to discover at the show itself
Nick Cho has been teasing a grinder project on Twitter for months now, and it’s finally been announced: it’s the WOOTZ espresso grinder, developed by CBSC Coffee Works, the Korean team behind the December Coffee Dripper. The grinder has 75 mm flat steel burrs, with digital grind size adjustment similar to what is found in the Mazzer ZM. It also has a bayonet fitting to grind directly into a portafilter, with a rotating wire distributor that evenly spreads the grounds in the basket during grinding. We won’t be able to grab one for our booth to compare to all of our other grinders, but we’re still eager to get whatever hands-on time we can with this new entrant to the grinder world.
La Marzocco KB90
The famed espresso machine company has already debuted their newest model in the last few months, so this machine will already be familiar to some. Dedicated to La Marzocco USA’s Kent Bakke, the KB90 features a new straight-in portafilter and group system that’s designed to relieve stress on baristas’ wrists when they’re on bar. Internally the machine is supposed to be much like a Linea PB, but with new tweaks including easier to service steam valves and a new auto-flush that activates after each shot to keep the group screen cleaner throughout the day. La Marzocco have also introduced dual wall cool-touch steam wands on this model, an addition which many a barista with steam wand burns on their hands will appreciate.
Photo source: La Marzocco USA
While the E65S has already been released in Europe and abroad, it is only now about to make its debut in the North American market. We’ve had lots of hands-on time with a pre-release version of this grinder already, so we’re eager to see and use the final product. If you’re coming to the show, we’ll have a retail model in our booth along with all our other grinders, so it’ll be a great place to come see how this grinder compares to others. It features 65 mm burrs and a slimmer, taller profile compared to the K30 series, and in our experience it has been both lightning fast and quiet - two qualities any cafe could appreciate.
In case you haven’t heard the news yet, the Virtuoso has been retired. After years of steady service, Baratza have discontinued it to make some updates, with a new release coming in the form of the Virtuoso+. New to the Virtuoso+ is a digital timer with a built-in pulse mode, plus a set of LED lights to illuminate the grinds bin and let you see how full it is. Internally it’s the same as the previous Virtuoso, with 40 mm conical steel burrs and 40 stepped grind settings. We already have this up and ready for pre-order, but we’re excited to talk to the Baratza team in Boston about the new grinder and anything else they might have in the pipeline
Acaia Pearl Model S
Acaia took the stealth approach to releasing a new product this year, making the announcement only a week before Expo begins. We’re huge fans of Acaia’s products, so we can’t wait to test out the new scale features they’ve introduced to the Model S. The scale has a new dot-matrix display which seems to be more versatile than the previous LCD, for example by being able to graphically display flow rate while pouring. There is also a new companion app that will allow roasters and customers to connect with brewing tips and recipes for their coffees.
Photo source: Acaia Coffee on Instagram
Pullman is taking a leap into the automatic tamper world with their newest product, the Infinitamp. Pullman produces some of the best quality espresso prep products we’ve come across, so this is sure to be another winner. We’ve already seen glimpses of the Inifinitamp coming from other recent coffee shows across the globe, including some social media posts featuring handstands being done on top of the device. If that isn’t a testament to build quality we don’t know what is!
Batch brewing cold coffee is a logistical hurdle for a lot of coffee businesses. Typical cold-steep coffee takes hours to prepare, usually 8-12 hours at the low end. There isn’t much a cafe can do to prepare more in a hurry to meet unexpected demand. Information is still sparse at this point, but Curtis has teased a new cold brewing device that says it can produce 5 gallons in just 20 minutes, claiming to save on bean usage as well. If that’s all true, this product could seriously change the game for coffee businesses, as they’ll be able to serve more cold brew almost on demand. We can’t wait to see the Essence in person.
As far as portable brewing devices go, the Aeropress certainly seems to be the far-and-away most popular option. It’s one of the only brewers that we know of that has its own international brewing championship, and it’s got such an enthusiastic following there’s a whole documentary dedicated to the product’s invention and rise to popularity. Now, for the first time in years, Aeropress is releasing a whole new product: the Aeropress Go. It’s even more compact than the original, and comes with a bundle of accessories that allow it to pack up nicely into your bag. It’s nice to see some innovation from the Aeropress folks - though we already know a lot of customers who would prefer to see a larger model, not a smaller one!
There of course will be many more new and exciting products to check out, so be sure to drop by our Youtube channel in the coming weeks to see our video coverage!
World Coffee Championships
In 2015, we got a rare treat at the Expo in Seattle in that the World Barista Championship and World Brewers Cup were both in town. That year, we shot a short documentary focused on the World Barista Championship, covering its influence in the coffee world and what it takes to compete. This year, both World Championships are back in the US at the Boston Expo (and the WBC turns 20 this year!). We have plans to cover some of each event here and there, but unfortunately we won’t be able to do another documentary this year. If you’re interested in the competitions, they’re definitely worth a look. Brewers Cup always leaves us with recipes and techniques to try ourselves, and the Barista competition is sure to see some creative approaches to espresso and signature beverages. For those of you who can’t make it out to Boston, you should be able to catch the events on the World Coffee Events live streams.
Parties and Events
It just wouldn’t be a Coffee Expo without evening overflowing with socializing and/or dancing! Whether you’re the outgoing type who loves a good party or you would prefer a quieter evening with your closest coffee pals, there’s bound to be something for everybody. You can usually find somebody from Prima at a party or two through the weekend, so if you’d like to catch up with us here’s a list of what we’ve got our eye on this year (in chronological order.
Counter Culture Coffee’s local Boston training lab will host a variety of events on Friday, all worth checking out if you have the time. The events start at 10 AM with their regular Tasting At Ten, where you can taste a variety of coffees in an informal cupping. At 1 PM, you can sign up for a technical workshop that will teach some basic tech skills for working on coffee equipment. At 3:30 PM, there will be an American Sign Language for Specialty Coffee class, which will teach some valuable phrases and signs to communicate with your deaf and hard-of-hearing customers and business partners in the coffee world. All events take place at the Counter Culture lab in Somerville
This one sounds like a blast: 8 teams will compete and test their coffee knowledge in a game of Flavor Wheel Feud, with plenty of participation from the crowd. Hosted by Erika Vonie and Lem Butler, with big name sponsors like Ally Coffee and Pacific Foods. Grab a free drink ticket from the Ally Coffee or Pacific Foods booth before you head out for the evening, and we’ll see you there! 6 PM-1 AM at Middle East Restaurant and Nightclub in Boston. Free to attend with food and drinks for purchase.
Jenn Chen’s Game Night is back, offering a more relaxed environment for coffee folks to come together and decompress after a busy day. If you’re more into a game of Catan or Ticket to Ride than a boisterous dance floor, this is the place for you. Guests are encouraged to bring some games to play, and beverages are BYOB for the evening. 6-9 PM at Pavement Coffee House & Roastery at 415 Western Ave in Boston.
La Marzocco’s parties are big, full of fun, and ever-so-creative. Last year’s had themed party rooms and a rooftop speakeasy, offering a little something for every party-goer in attendence. This year they’ve promised more Boston-themed surprises, and we don’t even need to know what’s happening to know that it’ll be a great time. A tip in advance though: this is one of the most popular parties every year, so you may want to plan on arriving early if you want to get in the door! 8 PM to midnight, at Paradise Rock Club in Boston. Free to attend.
This isn’t a party, but it will be a valuable experience for anyone in the coffee world. Presented by the Boston Intersectional Coffee Collective and Junior’s Roasted Coffee and sponsored by Oatly, this event will feature discussions and presentations that highlight the challenges and issues facing coffee producers worldwide. We won’t be able to attend this as it takes place during our booth take-down time, but we really want to encourage people to go and support events like this, which highlight the areas in the coffee industry which need more attention and support from those of us upstream. 6 -8 PM at Night Shift Brewing in Everett, MA. Free to attend, with a suggested donation to Coffee Kids at the door.