"Espresso! My Espresso!"
An Ongoing Internet Novelette
by Randy Glass - Copyright 2017 - All rights reserved
E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
2017 SCA Exhibition
Washington State Convention Center
April 21 through April 23
all text and photos ©2017 - All rights reserved
The downtown Seattle skyline looking out over Puget Sound
You may notice that I left off an "A" in "SCAA" up there. You may think that, but the organization is no longer called the "Specialty Coffee Association of America." The SCAA recently merged with the Special Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE), and the merge resulted in what is now the "Specialty Coffee Association." Let's do the math: SCAA + SCAE = SCA. In their own words, "The Specialty Coffee Association is a non-profit organization that represents thousands of coffee professionals, from producers to baristas all over the world. Built on foundations of openness, inclusivity, and the power of shared knowledge, we act as a unifying force within the specialty coffee industry – invested in creating a worldwide circle of like-minded professionals." You can read more about the merging of these two groups here. As to my opinion of their new logo seen in the title frame above, all I can say is that I expressed it to an SCA representative and will let you respond to them as you choose.
I attended my first SCA
My Attendance Record
As you may very well know by now, I am the Hottop USA customer service representative as well as their graphic artist (having created their website and owners manuals among other related tasks). Because of that I now spend most of my time at these exhibitions in the Hottop booth and so have limited opportunity to walk the floor for review purposes or to find items to feature and review here on my website. Beyond that, I had no assistant reporter this year, so all tasks fell at my feet. And after standing in the booth nearly all day, every day, and then walking the enormous show floor, by the time I returned to the motel room it felt like the responsibility fell not at, but on my feet!
So here I am, once again, for my third time in Seattle for an SCA coffee exhibition. It has been a struggle leading up to this trip. Over the previous two weeks I spent a good amount of energy working on my wife's car (an oil change that a mistake put about two quarts of used oil on the garage floor, new front motor mounts after the oil change revealed the state of the old ones, front brake pads, replaced the vacuum brake booster, and a new master cylinder). I finished all that with one day to spare to get packed for the trip. The night before leaving I came down with a head cold that, thankfully, was fairly well gone on the morning I headed for the airport. But this isn't "Car! My Car.com," nor is it "All the Bad Days of My Life." Let's move on.
DAY 2 and 3
Burc from Beko, the Turkish Coffee folks. I am the bald guy with the hat. I have introduced Burc in my review of the Beko automatic Turkish coffee maker. I have been using that device for some three years now, and it is one of my favorites methods of brewing. Beyond that, Burc and I conversed and I learned a bit more about Turkey's very interesting history.
And above we we see an entire coffee family! Those who have taken this coffee journey with me certainly know the Jarrett family, former owners and operators of Riley's Coffee. Barry was part of that "core" group on alt.coffee and has been roasting since before he was born as it has been in the family for, dare I guess, three generations. June is still very well known for her fudge (at least in our household) , and their daughter, Maddy, who was named after Madeleine Page. She knew good from "ucky" espresso at an age at which most of us were still little droolers. Madeleine Page was a delightful part of alt.coffee, and her light went out far too soon. You can read a small part of that story here.
Another notable name which dropped by my booth was Greg Scace. If you have not met Greg, the "Scace Device" (see Scace1 and Scace 2) alone is enough of an introduction, but he was also part of that alt.coffee core group, and if you have an espresso machine with a PID installed, he certainly deserves a thank you from you.
It is so difficult to remember everyone, but I absolutely must also include Marshall Fuss who is active as an attorney working with a number of entities in the specialty coffee world. Marshall was also active back "in the day" in alt.coffee.
Beyond my employment responsibilities, and meeting up, even briefly, with old friends and making new ones, my secondary task is to try to introduce my readers to any new or interesting consumer items.
As I walked the floor one brewing method seemed to stand out in my eyes. It also happens to be the one which I have not yet tried in any form, and that is cold brew. Can't say exactly why that is, considering that it is a growing presence in the market. I think I can at least partially explain that. If you visited my home you would realize that it becomes a matter of space. My collection of equipment (old and newish) includes six vacuum brewers, three drip-o-laters, five press pots, eight percolators (stove top and electric), two older hand grinders, two old twelve-volt, portable percolators, seven coffee roasters, and a bunch of other odds and ends plus my regular day-in and day-out coffee equipment. But I am about to gladly create a space for this:
"COLD BRUER" from BRUER
COLD BREW "NITRO COFFEE" by JoeTap
I am going to break ranks here for a moment and feature a device that I doubt any of my readers will have in their home. The JoeTap Barista system. This is a commercial, stand-alone nitro brewing system. With the full setup all you need is to plumbed it to a filtered water line and a NEMA-5-15P outlet. What is that, you ask? A standard 15amp 120VAC wall outlet like in your home. It has a built in nitrogen generator for the "nitro" infusion, and the coffee comes in a box (basically like the cheap wine you would not buy), but once you taste the product from this device you are going to start clearing a space in your man cave! It has a built in chiller as well. Pull the tap and out comes what can only be described this way- imagine if Guiness only brewed coffee.
"STARESSO" MANUAL ESPRESSO MAKER
Some of you may remember the Wacaco manual espresso maker. It looked like an insanely large medicinal "cold capsule" with a side-mounted pump. I tested one with very poor results and received very little assistance to get it working properly and gave up on it. While walking the floor on the first day I could not get close to the Staresso booth because of the crowds, but on Saturday I worked my way over there at a slow time.
The Staresso comes from a Chinese manufacturing firm (Shenzhen Staresso Culture Co. Ltd). I picked one up off the display table and it has a solid feel that is easy to grasp. The diamond-textured silicone cover on the main body makes it easy to hold and the air pump (seen extended in the photo) has a positive, smooth feel in operation. The pump handle locks into is body by simply pressing it down fully and giving it a partial rotation which can be done with one finger. It can be extended in much the same way. Rotate the top with a finger on the outer circumference of the pump handle and the pump will extend.
To make a beverage, lift out the pump assembly and unscrew the bottom portion. Remove the filter basket and fill with coffee. Replace that assembly and remove the pump by unscrewing the top. Fill with hot water and replace the pump. Place that assembly on the base with the glass cup and pump until you feel the resistance decrease which indicates that the water reservoir has been emptied. Then enjoy the coffee beverage. I have the Staresso in hand so will be doing a full review in the near future.
At the show another attendee was there at the booth and they made us a "shot." Honestly, we were both a bit unsure as to whether it could actually make a drinkable beverage. But it did. It could have been improved with slightly hotter water and preheating the vessel, but we were both pleased with the taste. And, yes, it actually had some crema on it. The device does have a valve system below the little basket which seems to act as a crema enhancer to some extent, but that fact did not detract from our positive impression.
It is available on Amazon now for $60. Watch for detailed review here on "Espresso! My Espresso" in the next couple of weeks.
To close things out, let's lighten things up a bit. I walked the aisles specifically looking for things which caught my "artist's eye."I present a simple gallery of images.
So another year has come and gone, and another SCA exhibition is in the rear view mirror. The 620 mile flight home took about 20 minutes more than the 90 mile drive from the airport to home. And as has been the pattern for Northern California over the last 6 months or so, it rained hard for the last 10 miles of the drive.
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