By Kaleb Leach
The temperature was perfect, the clouds parted, and the sun came out for the Global Specialty Coffee Expo this year in Seattle, WA.
Each morning began with a coffee cupping at the Cupping Exchange. Friday was a Cup Of Excellence cupping from El Salvador and Nicaragua, Saturday was an offering from Caravela, and Sunday was a very interesting cupping of Rwanda coffees with a brief discussion with the farmers.
After the cupping, the show floor opened up and I went straight to the Guilds Lounge to see what the Coffee Technicians Guild was up to. It was the first year that CTG had a presence at Expo, and the second time we were able to meet as a group. The booth was simple and fun, and I met more techs than at any of the past SCA events.
We were in the Guilds Lounge close to all the competitions. We had a Rancilio Classe 9 three group espresso machine with clear panels for everyone to peek into, and offered an electrical challenge that consisted of testing espresso machine components such as a heating element, micro switch, and a start capacitor.
The U.S. Coffee Championships were taking place on all sides of the Guilds Lounge. At any moment a competitor could be just getting started or winding down, and there were constant cheers and announcements from the emcees. The room was charged with excitement and nervous energy.
The bustle of the festivities made conversations about the newly-formed guild challenging at times, but it was a blast to get to watch all of the competitors that had worked so hard to get where they were compete.
It was amazing to meet coffee technicians from all over the country and from around the world, trade experience stories about working in the field, as well as meet some techs in person that I had been following on Instagram.
We heard from many farmers, roasters, and baristas who are dedicated to creating a high quality product. These coffee professionals understand that, without technicians who are just as passionate and dedicated, all of their hard work can be ruined due to equipment malfunction, and it was refreshing to hear their input on our profession.
Ultimately, we found that everyone we talked to about CTG was really pumped that the guild and SCA are working on developing standards and curriculum to support the technicians that are challenged with keeping coffee equipment in good working order.