In April, coffee’s brightest minds gathered at one of the biggest international coffee trade shows in Seattle, Washington. The Event kicked off with a two-day seminar called Symposium, an exclusive meeting of the minds that had been closed off to the public until 2013, when Symposium Director Peter Giuliano made the decision to begin releasing videos of each talk, TED-style.

These six coffee videos are talks from the 2014 Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Symposium. It includes our very own Assistant Editor Alex Bernson, who spoke on the cafe as a social space. These coffee videos will make you think, make you laugh, make you cry, and make you smarter. But don’t take our word for it.

6. Al Keating, Managing & Creative Director of Coffee Supreme, A Story About Generosity And Influence

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A strong brand is built on a foundation of generosity and influence. Sharing good ideas, being intentional, and listening to your instinct are essential to creating a memorable and influential brand identity, as well as unique and positive experiences in the cafe setting. Al Keating, the managing & creative director for Coffee Supreme in New Zealand, explores these concepts in this hugely popular and entertaining talk from Symposium 2014.

5. Jill Smith, Owner of Pure Éire Dairy, All Milk is Not Created Equal–the Pure Éire Dairy Story

“Who wants to dairy if it’s not fun?” asks Jill Smith of Pure Éire Dairy at the 2014 SCAA Symposium. With this positive outlook, and a collaborative spirit when approaching customer relationships, Smith’s family dairy has set out to create a unique specialty brand of milk, located in the state of Washington. In this talk, she explores quality and sustainability in the dairy industry and gives us a look into the inner workings of their operations, showing us that all milk is not created equal.

4. David Piza, Relationship Coffee Manager at Sustainable Harvest, How to Live With Coffee Leaf Rust, A Constant Reality

In this important talk from Symposium 2014, David Piza discusses some of the challenges we are facing because of coffee leaf rust, an issue that affects the entire coffee supply chain. Piza explains that there are many opportunities to get involved and do something to help work towards finding solutions. In addition to research that is taking place around the world to address the cause of coffee leaf rust, physical solutions to control the spread of rust have been implemented, as well as a regional communication plan that includes podcasts, magazines, pamphlets, and websites. All of these tools are raising the awareness of this issue in coffee producing communities and educating producers about how to deal with it at the farm level.

3. Gail Vance Civille, Founder and President of Sensory Spectrum, The Sensory Spectrum – Looking Beyond Qualitative Analysis

Legendary taste professional Gail Vance Civille delivers a compelling story of sensory science and the coffee trade: how taste works, some of the tools available to us, and new frontiers in flavor analysis. This talk gives an important background to any taste professional’s exploration of the cutting edge of sensory science.

2. Tracy Ging, Vice President of Sustainability and Strategic Initiatives for S&D Coffee, A New Generation of Coffee Drinkers

Tracy Ging gives us a comprehensive look at the main purchase drivers of coffee today. For today’s new coffee consumers, the value of specialty coffee is not just about the bean. Coffee quality is the sum of the entire experience, not just the product being served. In order to appeal to these consumers, a new language about coffee needs to be developed, and through this process it is crucial to understand what these consumers value. They are more sophisticated coffee drinkers, and are interested in sustainability, specialty ingredients, and the ambiance of the cafe. They want to learn as much as they can about the nuances of coffee, but also want to make it their own. With strong brand loyalty and increased purchasing at the cafe level, Tracy asserts that this new consumer is poised to be the best generation of coffee drinkers yet.

1. Alex Bernson, Assistant Editor of Sprudge, Creating the Social Cafe – A Holistic Approach to Staff & Customer Happiness

The way a cafe constructs retail and social experiences for guests is evolving, and it all starts with a layout that encourages interaction between the customer and the service professional. Alex Bernson gave this compelling talk at Symposium 2014 on cafe spaces and the role of the barista in this equation. Bernson asserts that service work is a form of acting and baristas are required to put on a performance of sorts, which can cause burn out among staff. The ultimate goal of a cafe, according to Bernson, should be to create fun, engaging spaces for baristas to interact with guests in an authentic way. “Successful long term service comes from easy, genuine connections with guests,” he says, and in this talk he’ll show how high engagement plus emotionally connected service can lead to a loyal returning customer.

The SCAA Symposium website updates throughout the year with talks, discussion, ideas, and news. Keep up to date with it all here.

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