What to 'Techspect' at Expo 2018


By Kaleb Leach

Stepping it up in 2018, this will be the third year the Coffee Technicians Guild will have a presence at the Specialty Coffee Expo and we have some exciting new features, including our own booth (#1001)!

That’s right, we will be on the floor where all the action is. Like last year, there will be a tech challenge at the booth, so make sure and stop by to show your skills. We will also be raffling off a year's membership to the CTG at the booth, thanks to Texas Coffee Traders. While you're there be sure to hit up the newly-appointed Executive Council members. They will be at the booth to answer any questions you might have about benefits, future CTG Summits, Gearhead Events, education, certifications, and volunteer opportunities with the CTG committees. Get to know your executive council members ahead of time.

Once you have made it through walking the floor, workshops, etc, head on over to ballroom 6E for or appetizers and beverages at the CTG reception and meeting from 4:00pm-6:30pm on Friday, April 20. There will be a great opportunity to meet and greet techs from different regions, and the Executive Council will share accomplishments from the last year and what to expect throughout the rest of 2018.

This year there are two workshops put on by our education committee. On Thursday, April 19, join us for Technician Workflow and Customer Communication in room 604 from 12:30-2:00pm with instructors Rebecca McNelly and Lorenzo Roncali. On Sunday, April 22, Shad Baiz instructs the fun, hands-on workshop: Brewer Equipment Theory: The Essentials of Coffee Brewing Equipment Focusing on Operation, Application and Functionality from 9:00am-12:00pm in room 602/603.  

View the workshop descriptions below:

  • Technician Workflow and Customer Communication | Customer service and understanding job flow are imperative parts of being a skilled specialty coffee equipment technician. Students will evaluate the key elements of customer service and work together as a group to apply the principles of customer service to different situations one would encounter in the field. They will identify different types of jobs and the correlating paperwork and responsibilities that should be associated with completing them. The class will collectively review and discuss the role of a technician and the limitations of that role, in relation to safety and regulations. This workshop is designed for any current or aspiring coffee technician professionals. The content of this class is a fine example of the forthcoming Coffee Technician Skills Program.
  • Brewer Equipment Theory: The Essentials of Coffee Brewing Equipment Focusing on Operation, Application and Functionality | This workshop explains how the various commercial brewing machines work; specifically, the difference between how pressure brew and gravity brew systems operate. Attendees will walk away understanding the fundamental description of the mechanical processes involved in each version of brewer, and through the practical, hands on lab students will understand how the machines work in the real world. This workshop is designed for any current or aspiring coffee technician professionals. The content of this class is a fine example of the forthcoming Coffee Technician Skills Program.

Both of these classes are representative of what is to come from the CTG education curriculum leading to the ultimate goal of accreditation. Space is filling up in the classes so sign up soon. Learn more.

Volunteer opportunities are still available at Expo! Sign up for 16 hours you can get a free 3-day pass! There are spots still available at the CTG booth, the two workshops, and lots more. Learn more and volunteer.

Outside the Convention Center

La Marzocco will hold a technical presentation of the new Leva on Friday, April 20, and will have representatives from the factory to talk about the technical aspects of the machine and hold a Q&A. There are limited seats for this and you will need to RSVP via a link in the La Marzocco newsletter. 

On Saturday, April 21, La Marzocco and The Coffeewoman present a hands-on showcase of the basic hand skills that are important for – and often taken for granted by – new café repair technicians. The demonstrations will be led by a group of female technical professionals that come from different backgrounds in the specialty coffee industry. This will be a great opportunity to learn techniques from seasoned technicians that can take years to learn on your own.

If you are looking for a job in Seattle, Visions Espresso will be holding a open interviews for techs all week. If you’re interested, email the service manager Jim Connolly at jim@visionsespresso.com to set up a time. 

Synesso will have classes on the days leading up to expo and for days after. They will be running a preventative maintenance class and a in depth technical class on their products. Classes are based on interest and they do have some planned but if they get a big enough response they will add classes to accommodate the need. Email aaron@synesso.com if you are interested.

If you can make the time, there are also some great stops to make in Seattle. Cafe Vita has a really amazing shop. Visions is pretty stellar too. Stop by Synesso, Slayer, Mavam, etc. If you call a week or two in advance and ask if there is a time you can come by and see their operation. Most of them will say yes and if you ask enough questions you will probably learn something. I'm sorry if I missed anyone, the list of coffee equipment companies in Seattle that have great respect for coffee techs is long. 

On the floor

If you are a tech walking the floor, go to every manufacturer and let them know you are a tech and that you want to learn more about their equipment. Almost all of them want to provide you with training on their equipment. Find out who is the best person to talk to for tech support and get their contact info. Expo is where new equipment will be showcased by coffee equipment manufacturers. Not all, but some of them will take the machine apart with you in the booth and explain the mechanics with you on the floor. Never hurts to ask if you can see the inside of the machine. There will be lots of new and fun equipment to check out at the show and lots amazing coffee. Most importantly, have a good time and learn as much as possible.

Make sure and finish your Expo experience off right on Sunday night at the Official Afterparty from 8:00pm-12:00am at the Aston Manor Night Club (2946 1st Avenue S Seattle WA 98134). Cover is included with your Expo and/or Re:co Symposium badge (required for entry).

There are many things to look forward to as the coffee world arrives in Seattle once again. It’s the most highly-caffeinated and fun weekend you can have all year, so make the best of it.