In June 2015, we sent a small contingency to the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) annual “World of Coffee” event, this year in the lovely Swedish city of Gothenburg. These events are always great for networking, learning, contributing (volunteering) and of course team-building.
We set off for a scenic flight over lower Scandinavia and arrived late in the evening. It was still sunny when we landed, and really only turned dark for about 4 hours. We headed straight out for some meatballs and called it a night.
Henrik and Danny struck off in the early hours for the International Women’s Coffee Alliance breakfast - yes, men were welcome! The IWCA is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to supporting women working in coffee growing countries. Their reach is extending into the hundreds of thousands in multiple countries and continents. They provide support through education, information exchange, physical resources and networking. A large donation was made at the breakfast and a series of speakers introduced their work to those of us in the crowd less familiar with their work. We came away nourished and enthusiastic about the amazingly good things people in our industry are willing to do for those less fortunate.
Meanwhile, back at Gothia towers, the SCAE show was in full swing, with crowds milling around the various competitions being run simultaneously, and a good turn out for the screeds of stall holders plying their wares. Anthony (Roaster) and Manuel (Head Barista) were volunteering and had been assigned to the Marco opposite the Latte Art competition. They were playing with some amazing new Marco electric brewing equipment, and coffees from some of our friends in the London coffee scene. The new SP-9 brew station is a dream come true, with easily adjustable parameters on a dial, basically enter the desired time and volume of water and the brewer manages the pouring. Almost as good as a human and definitely one for high-volume filter coffee service.
The SCAE shows are very industry-oriented and so there isn’t a public/”retail” day. It does seem a shame as many of the competitions, seminars and stalls have a lot of education and entertainment to offer non-industry people (thinking of the success of the London Coffee Festival here). We attended a very interesting seminar on moisture content reading for green coffee which had the geeks in us getting excited.
Whilst there were a lot of innovative new equipment producers (eg sample roasters and brewing equipment) and new ethical organisations in attendance, it seems some of the age-old industry problems such as coffee packaging solutions (in terms of environmental sustainability) are yet to be creatively addressed.
Everyone got to let their hair down after the last day with a decent nudge at a local bar/club venue. Many new friends were made and ideas exchanged at the bar and maybe even the dance floor. The Friday it seemed half the coffee industry in the world descended on local legends Da Matteo coffee roasters on the Friday for a final breakfast and a few pre-flight filter brews. Travelling to the airport we met up and wore our voices out with those heading the same way as us, one last local beer at the airport and a slice of elk salami and it was time to say goodbye to Sweden … for now.