By Mike Perry
I have to admit, I was not to excited to travel to Houston for the 2011 SCAA's Symposium and Exposition but after being there I have to add it to my list of cities I would like to return to. The Convention Center was surrounded by a park, great hotels, wonderful restaurants, and a baseball park, making Houston a wonderful city. But enough about the city, this was a coffee convention, so let me list my top five highlights:
5. The volunteers: from the moment i first walked into symposium, i saw volunteers everywhere working hard and doing everything from moving supplies to serving pour over coffee with passion. The classes were filled with lots of great people teaching, assisting, and doing whatever they could to make this a great event.
4. The barista community: wow, what great people. Led by the barista guild of America, baristi were everywhere. From volunteering, to serving coffee and espresso drinks, to competing, this is one dedicated and passionate group of people.
3. Cupping, cupping, cupping: i attended cupping’s in designated cupping rooms, cupping’s in vendor booths, and even in private suites. From Brazil, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Honduras, Kenya, Kona, Panama, Rwanda, and more I enjoyed great coffee.
2. Producers everywhere: starting with brazil as the host country and Houston's proximity to Central America, there were more producers here than i have ever seen at a coffee show. From spending time with current farm producers to meeting new ones, producers (or farmers) were everywhere.
And my number one highlight from 2011 SCAA is:
1. The win: "The Pete" Licata wins the U.S. Barista Championship with an all American coffee blend from Hawaii: for 6 years Pete has been so close and worked so hard it was great to see our friend rewarded. Congrats Pete, go get it at the world's barista championship in Bogotá, Colombia next month.
SCAA SYMPOSIUM AND EXPOSITION, HOUSTON, BARISTA COMMUNITY, COFFEE CUPPING, US BARISTA CHAMPION, USBC, PETE LICATA, WBC, WORLD'S BEST CHAMPIONSHIP, BOGOTA, COLOMBIA