Coffee Expo 2019: Thoughts, Feelings, and Whoa


By Chase Lemos of Nuova Ricambi USA

I saw the impressive concrete structure out of the window of my taxi only once we were pulling up for me to unload. As I grabbed my day bag and stepped out of the car, I was very impressed by the effect of the sun playing across the concrete pillars that held up the awning by the entrance to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. I walked through the rotary door and into a grand lobby with a low buzz of people in various states of work. The show was the next day and everyone had something to do, no matter how small. 

As I walked through the crowd and up to the desk to get our group’s badges, I was struck by the view of the show floor through the glass wall behind the desk. Fork lifts ran back and forth, booths were being assembled, signs were being hung and people were all busy moving about performing their tasks to make it all happen. That was the thing that struck me the most this year about the SCA Expo, the people who put in their valuable time who made it happen.

Everything from the prompt and courteous service picking up my badges to the surprisingly polite guys running the forklift to all of the people who have spent the last 12+ months making calls, sending emails and setting all of the details in place so that I can simply walk in, pick up my pre-ordered badges and stroll into the exhibit hall so that I can set up my booth for the show, impressed me. Hats off to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center for being ready to put on a great show, but doubly so for all of the Specialty Coffee Association staff who put in an incomprehensible amount of work to make the show flawless. Thank you all for a job well done.

The three days of the Expo went by in a flash, I had the pleasure of seeing familiar friends and colleagues as well as meeting new ones. Everyone seemed to be enjoying their time, chatting with industry professionals, viewing new to market products and connecting with our profession. That is the power of the SCA Expo, it brings people from around the world and connects them over a steaming hot cup of coffee. This year that seemed to hold true as it has in years past.

Many, many industry leaders showed up in style and put on a powerful spectacle, from new espresso machine models to coffee products to coffee itself and beyond - there was more to see than I was able to see in the three days of the Expo. What I did see was an unusual number of new espresso machine models, something that is exciting for me as a coffee geek with a hardware obsession. Every aisle held some kind of eye candy for me and nearly everyone was handing out exquisite espresso, enough to make your hair stand on end, and boy did it ever!

There were parties galore after show hours hosted by many of the generous companies in attendance. As further opportunities to network and mingle in our world of coffee aficionados, they were wildly entertaining and successful. A huge thank you to everyone who sponsored an event! I mean, there were parties on boats, dinners, open bars… hard not to enjoy yourself with all that going on.

The CTG hosted a meeting where we announced that the Education platform was not ready for the 2019 Expo. We all knew this because there were no classes available, but it was still disappointing to hear, really disappointing, actually. But things that bother me tend to swirl around and stew in my brain until I can make sense of them and, I came to the following conclusions:

  1. It stinks that we don’t have the education program ready yet, but it is probably preferable not to have a program yet then it is to have a program that is underprepared and either lacking information or impossible to learn from.

  2. The CTG isn’t an apprenticeship - which was the way I had been thinking about it - something to join so that I can improve my ability to be a coffee tech. I came to realize that the CTG is more than that. The CTG is about people. People can teach one another, people can help solve tough problems, people can help you find a tough to find part, people can do more together than they can alone. That is what the CTG is about. Doing more together than we can by ourselves is exactly why we all joined the CTG, whether we knew it or not. Our ability to refer a far-away customer went up when we joined the CTG, our effective knowledge base went up when we joined the CTG, our group of drinking buddies for sure went up when we joined the CTG, and the list goes on. It isn’t about what the CTG can teach you, because the CTG is mostly just an organizing force, it is about what we can all do together as a part of the CTG. What is that line - ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country’ or something like that? Well - what can you do to help our a fellow CTG member? Because I’m very sure that when you ask, they will do for you. I have seen members go above and beyond for one another which makes us all look good to our customer, better than we would be alone. THAT is the CTG.

To bring it all together, I am impressed with this year’s Specialty Coffee Expo and remain excited about my involvement in the CTG.

P.S. We, the Coffee Technicians Guild, are always looking for clever articles to share with our members. If you have an especially good way to pop out a hard group gasket, for example, or know a trick to speed up descaling a boiler and are able to do a quick write up, we would love to share your trick (with credit given to the tricky individual!). To submit your ideas, please fill out the submission form here.