Two weeks ago I traveled to Seattle which was a major milestone for me. It was my 25th consecutive SCAA Show and perhaps the most well attended in history. Indeed in looking back my first SCAA was in Oakland, CA at the Claremont Hotel. It was attended by maybe 120 people or so. It was marked by a protest in front of the hotel calling for a ban on Death Squad Coffee (El Salvador) and made Bay Area news reports later that night. After the show was over on Saturday the entire group (well almost) bellied up to the hotel bar and socialized. During this time I met some of the great legends of the San Francisco coffee scene. These are relationships that I still hold close to me, as I learned so much from these old coffee people. Although the SCAA is huge now and there are many people interested in the Barista Championship and other attractions, and I am very happy that still today the SCAA fosters not only coffee related stuff but also communication and education. With these tools future people will take the torch and improve on the rapidly expanding hold that is Specialty Coffee.
As one of my early mentors in green coffee once told me “Andrew it’s all about relationships”. At over 70 years old my friend still trades hundreds of thousands of bags a year. Indeed with all our technological advances over the years it still comes down to knowing, understanding and being a friend to your customer. Here’s to another 25 years.