Hello! My name is Courtney, I’m the social media manager for Winans Chocolates + Coffees. I was fortunate to be able to attend the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Expo last weekend in Atlanta, Georgia. This was my first time attending the expo and I was excited to learn and so happy to be traveling with Winans co-owner, Joe Reiser, our roaster, Brenda Cook, and our barista educator, Natalie Schaurer.
During the expo I shared my experience on Winans Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts, using the hashtags #SCAA2016 #WinansBehindtheScenes #WinansatSCAA2016. Now I’d like to share a little recap of my favorite moments as well as what I was able to learn at the expo.
Tastings: I loved tasting so many types of coffee. I quickly lost count of the tastings I actually had! A lot was prepared in a way that I do not normally drink coffee: as a pour-over. It’s a different way of brewing coffee and I really enjoyed it! I tried numerous single origin coffees, as well as some fun new edibles, like sugar coating the rim of coffee drinks, smoothies, toddy (cold brew coffee), nitro (also cold brew coffee, but on tap like beer) and lots of chai tea. I also was able to sample coffee cherry tea. This tea, called cascara, is an herbal tea made from the dried husks of coffee cherries. It’s a popular drink in coffee producing regions. It reminded me of a rich, fruity, black tea.
Meeting new people: I met so many new people at SCAA! It was fun to talk about coffee and to learn what others are doing in the industry.
Getting to know my co-workers: I spent a lot of time with my co-workers from Winans. We talked about coffee, of course, but we also got to know each other by spending time exploring, watching the barista championships, and enjoying meals together.
Lectures: I enjoyed attending lectures about coffee and marketing. Most of the lectures I attended were about marketing, communication or social media. My favorite lecture was led by Emily McIntyre and Jenn Chen. It was called “Successful Social Media Marketing Strategy: Audit, Plan and Execute for Your Coffee Company.” I left with a ton of great ideas which I can’t wait to put into action for Winans!
SOME THINGS I LEARNED
Coffee is multilingual: Because coffee is grown in the tropical regions, it makes sense to me that not everyone in the coffee industry speaks English. I just didn’t spend much time thinking about it until SCAA. The expo helped all of us with language barriers: many lectures offered Spanish translation and there were interpreters in the exhibit hall to help with conversations. I took Spanish for four years in high school, but my skills have definitely become rusty in the ten years since I graduated. Talking with Hispanic coffee growers and importers, I realized I want to brush up on my skills. And by brush up, I mean I want to be able to have meaningful conversations with the people who grow and import the raw material for my favorite beverage: coffee. 😊 There was a woman I met at the IWCA (International Women in Coffee Alliance) that makes beautiful sculptures out of spent coffee grounds (borra). The company is called Hecho En Café and their creations are amazing! We spoke through an interpreter and I bought a coaster from her made of coffee grounds.
Ohio is for lovers… of coffee: As I mentioned, I met a lot of people at the expo. What surprised me is how many fellow Ohioans I met! I attended the IWCA breakfast on Saturday morning and ended up being one of three Ohio ladies at our table of eight. I sat next to a woman from a coffee company in Perrysburg called The Flying Joe during a social media lecture. There were also Ohio coffee companies exhibiting at the expo. Go Ohio!
There’s no limit to a life in coffee: I saw this phrase over and over again at SCAA and it really resonated with me. It speaks not only to the multitude of jobs available, but also to the diversity of people who work in coffee. From coffee farmer to exporter to roaster to coffee shop owner to barista to coffee writer to coffee marketer to coffee equipment manufacturing… it’s a global industry. I spoke with people from all around the world at SCAA and will continue to be in touch with many of them through my work at Winans.
I want to learn more: this weekend taught me a lot of new, exciting and interesting things about coffee. It also showed me how much there is still to learn. I find this exciting, not discouraging! I love to learn and am excited to continue learning about coffee!