Once a year, the Specialty Coffee Association of America gets some of the smartest people in food science, agronomy, and specialty coffee in a room to talk about the state of global coffee. It's designed to get a little heavy, a little personal, and at times even a little uncomfortable.
Founded in 2009, the annual Symposium has become home to projects that help push coffee forward, like the World Coffee Research organization, known for their efforts against dangerous coffee diseases. The event itself is a two-day affair complete with snappy presentations, small group breakaway talks, heated luncheons, and top-notch social networking opportunities. Coffee service at the Symposium is provided by some of the best baristas in the country, organized by the distinguished Barista Guild of America.
Here's a sample of one of the presentations from last year, featuring our own Managing Editor Alex Bernson, who spoke on the topic of cafe design and the sociology of service:
The SCAA has unveiled the program for its sixth annual Symposium, sure to be an especially international affair this year as it coincides with the 2015 World Barista Championship. Here's what some of the smartest people in coffee will talk about this year at Benaroya Hall in Seattle:
The Heart of It: Quantifying and Optimizing Specialty Coffee
For six years now, Symposium has been a place to explore the future possibilities in coffee and take a look at where we are headed, but it also allows us to take a step back and look at the current state of our industry, assessing where we have been and where we are now. This session puts a magnifying glass on specialty coffee by-the-numbers with regards to crucial indicators such as sustainability, climate change, consumer trends and market data, as well as production and technology.
The Cutting Edge of Coffee Sensory Science
Flavor is the foundation of what we do. Symposium is committed to bringing together the most relevant breakthroughs in coffee science, and this year we’ll be featuring breakthrough innovations in the world of sensory science.
Out of the Box: Unexpected Innovations in Coffee
The success of any industry hinges on its ability to innovate and evolve with changing times. Just as business owners and operators get comfortable with a trend, the tide shifts and those who are not paying attention are left to wonder when they were left behind. In this session, hear from the next generation of coffee innovators and see what the future holds for our industry.
Water: The Invisible Driver of Coffee
Water touches every aspect of coffee; from its agriculture to its preparation and everything in between. And water—or lack of it—is driving the coffee market at this very moment. This session is intended to give coffee leaders essential background on drought, water conservation, and water quality.
Gender Equity: Can Shifting our Focus Improve the Coffee Supply Chain?
Of the many issues we've tackled at Symposium, one that has eluded us is gender equity in the agricultural sector. Can a focus on this topic make our supply chains better in unexpected ways?
Here's another talk from last year from Dr. Helene Hopfer, a researcher in the Department of Viticulture & Enology at the University of California, who wants to know what “good wine” is all about:
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