It's here! The Specialty Coffee Association‘s Global Coffee Expo has arrived, and it's going down over an action-packed weekend in Seattle, Washington. Buckle up—this is coffee's equivalent of E3, CMJ, and Coachella all rolled into one (though hopefully with fewer headdresses) and it all happens at the Washington State Convention Center.
Sprudge has been covering the SCA's annual event since 2009, and our site got its start in Seattle over a busy morning shift at the Stumptown location on Pine. Below you can find our exclusive and indispensably authoritative guide to the week's happenings and doings, but first we want to pay tribute to a vowel taken from us too soon.
As some of you may be aware, this marks the first year in which the SCA event is not the SCAA event—the second “A” was dropped as part of last year's global coffee trade union merger. This event has always been international, but 2017 marks the first time the newly unified Specialty Coffee Association (Earth chapter) will be hosting a global event by name. We're excited, but want to first take a moment to acknowledge our departing friend.
Farewell, second “A”—we hardly knew ye. As Americans, we rejoiced in the rare opportunity to pronounce a vowel twice, and for our international friends, the dipthong you produced in their pronunciation reminded us of sweet ska music and good times. We'll miss you forever, second “A”, and you are never to be forgotten—truly, it is hard to remember that we are not to announce you. A proper Viking funeral for the second “A” is planned for the shores of Lake Union one evening over SCA(A) weekend. Get in touch if you'd like to attend the pyre—tickets are available via a private EventBrite, and include a virtual reality farm tour courtesy of Starbucks.
Now on to the good stuff!
The US Coffee Championships
Yes! The 2017 US Coffee Championships are happening at the 2017 SCA Global Expo, which means hot, delicious barista competition action for you across a multitude of disciplines. The US Barista Championship, US Cup Tasters Championship, and US Brewers Cup Championship all kick off on Friday morning. Attendees can check out the action each day at the Washington State Convention Center, and Sprudge's industry-leading coverage of the events happens at SprudgeLive.com, our dedicated hub for coffee competition coverage. Follow @SprudgeLive on Twitter for live play by play from the barista competition, and be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for photos and video reports from our dedicated coverage crew.
Sprudge's coverage of the 2017 US Coffee Championships is made possible by Cafe Imports, Swiss Water Decaf, Baratza, AeroPress, Hario, and Pacific Natural Foods. All of our 2017 Barista Competition coverage worldwide is supported by Urnex Brands and Nuova Simonelli.
The Many Parties
Good heavens, is this year's SCA Event chockablock with after-hours opportunities for revelry. We suggest you avail yourself of the evening's many delights, because life is short, parties are fun, and most of the time people are nice.
Symposia, Lessons & Lectures
It's good to expand your soul and your get-working network at events like SCA Global Coffee Expo, but it's also important to expand your mind. Fortunately there's a battery of opportunities to do so, starting the SCA's annual Re:co Symposium event. Sprudge co-founder Jordan Michelman spoke at it last year, and this year's crop of speakers and fellows earn high marks on the intellectual cupping table of life.
If you aren't attending Symposium, but will be checking out the show, don't miss some of the stirring lectures being offered up at this year's event. There's something worth seeing over all three days, but we've got time marked off for Saturday morning's one-two punch of Emerging Trends in Coffee Quality and The Chocolate Barista + The Coffeewoman | Intersectionality, Building Influence, and Changing Power Structures.
And if you're hungry for learning that's a bit more official, SCA are offering a number of classes through their Pathways programming at this year's event. A full list of those classes is available here.
The Magical Showfloor
This category heading is no mere hyperbole, as the Global Coffee Event's show floor is due to be quite magical indeed this year. A murderer's row of exhibitors are bringing their best to the event across a series of booth experiences, each more innovative and engaging than the last. Not to be outdone, the SCA themselves are offering up a series of interactive experiences at the event, with highlights like the Design Lab, Tech Pavillion, and Uppers & Downers Coffee Beer kiosk.
Add to that heaps of coffee cuppings, endless free spro, all manner of new tech debuts and product launches, and you've got a show floor experience enough to make even the most seasoned conventioneer blush. Sprudge.com will be here to cover the best and brightest of it throughout the weekend—as best we can, given the dizzying array of options.
The City of Seattle
Hey, what a place! Seattle's changed a lot since Sprudge picked up its operations and moved down I-5 to the forest city of Portland, Oregon, but we'll always have a special place in our heart for this town. It's one of the most aesthetically beautiful cities in the world, positioned between salt water, lakes, mountains and forest. For the 2015 expo we published an exhaustive list of where to eat, drink, and have coffee in Seattle, and most of those picks are still around (and haven't been turned into condos). A little further back in the site history, and one of the first guides we ever published was a love letter to the cafes of Seattle. That guide was published in 2011, and you'd be hard pressed to find an American city that's changed more in the years since, but sometimes it's fun to look back.
Nouveau-tech cities like Seattle are particularly susceptible to the corporate hot list press release Eater-fication of American food writing, but fortunately the city's venerable alt-weekly, The Stranger, has upped its restaurant game as of late. Just a few weeks ago The Stranger issued this valuable guide to the city's best restaurants, and you should use it (and our above guides) to help you decide where to eat.
We hope you have so much in Seattle! This city gives us #feelings and they're pretty complicated, as far as #feelings go, but this year's Global Coffee Expo is an excuse to confront them all head-on and to the best of our collective abilities.
Follow us here on Sprudge, at SprudgeLive.com, and across our panoply of social media accounts for all the latest from Global Expo 2017. We'll see you in Seattle, fam.