I had the opportunity to attend the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) show in Houston this year. It was a great show and seemed to be very well attended. I really like going to these trade shows and have actually been attending them on and off for about 15 years. It was nice to see all the people I know in the industry and to also check out some new products.
The seminars are the biggest highlights for me, as they are very informative. One of the seminars I attended consisted of a roundtable discussion with café owners. Everyone really wanted to focus on quality as well as brand building in this competitive environment. The café owners voiced a lot of concerns regarding rising green coffee bean costs and how it affects drink prices, café operators, as well as roasters and their relationships.
I also took a seminar with green-bean coffee buyers. I found this seminar interesting as well as thought provoking. It is amazing how much work it takes to purchase, process, and ship coffee. I listened intently as the buyers talked about purchasing direct trade and how changing prices shortened the lengths of buying agreements from three years or more to one year or less. The buyers also discussed how organic coffee is no longer thought of as second grade, as it was a long time ago. It is now highly sought after because of the increased quality.
Along with all of the coffee talk, I also got a chance to catch up with our commercial vendors and get a sneak peek at their new products. Here are a few highlights of the new products and industry developments that were on display at the SCAA show:
Rancilio debut its new Egro super-automatic espresso machines, which were well designed and very functional. A new Rancilio system will purportedly cut down on the amount of preventative maintenance visits the Ergo requires, which will in turn reduce the long-term costs of ownership. The technicians I spoke with, who have worked on the Rancilio Ergo machines, really seem to like this new technology.
Additionally, Rancilio introduced a new traditional machine named Xcelsius, which has some unique brewing qualities. It can produce repeated shots at the same temperature. The Xcelsius maintains exact temperature using a double-phase heating technology. It also incorporates some new brew group technology and controls. This unique machine can also begin brewing at a cooler temperature and gradually get hotter as the shot is being made. Vice-versa, the Xcelsius can start hot, and gradually cool down as the brewing process progresses. This is a unique feature not found in any other espresso machine. Rancilio currently has two international patents associated with the Xcelsius.
The Xcelsius was developed in conjunction with Polytechnic, a leading technology school in Turin, Italy. There some well-known baristas and industry people helping to test and review the new Rancilio machines. The feedback from everyone has been very positive. The process of changing the shot temperature during the brewing process is, according to many, an eye opener. The technique produced very different results using the same coffee. As you can imagine, this groundbreaking technology has the potential to change the industry.
Along with Rancilio, I also got a chance to catch up with La Marzocco. The company was very proud to introduce the Strada, a multi-boiler machine. The unique thing about the Strada is its ability to offer programmable variable brew pressure during espresso extraction. Combine this with the machine’s ability to brew specific shots at different temperatures, and you have the ability to really dial-in your shots. A lot of the baristas believe that the Strada will offer a great way to brew single-origin espresso and to really highlight the unique flavors found in a particular coffee. The machine is not only technologically innovative but it is also really beautiful. Whole Latte Love will be adding this machine to our site shortly.
I hope you enjoyed my insider’s look at the SCAA show. Along with these exciting commercial machines, I also got to see many products that are more suited to the home market, which I will go over my next blog. If you have any questions about the show or machines, please feel free to leave a comment.
Commercial Sales Department
There is one thing other than coffee that my family is passionate about…technology. It is fair to say that we are a family of early adopters. Whether it was the first personal digital calculator or Apple’s first personal computer, we were there, ready to buy. Given this, it will be no surprise that the highlight of the year in the Black family was the ultimate in Mother’s Day gifts to Mom from my brother Tom of a shiny new iPad. Of course this was a shameless, and failed, attempt for my much older sibling to gain ‘favorite’ status with our dear mother. I will have to admit though, the iPad is by far one of the coolest pieces of technology I have ever seen. Of course, one of my first thoughts was, “What can the iPad do for the coffee world?”
Big Corporate Apps
Of course the big corporate giants stepped up to the plate first with their “where to find the nearest” apps because, after all, America is running on them, and how could people possibly get by without “my Starbucks” for a day. These apps have a full menu of the coffee shop’s drinks and allow coffee gophers the ability to create a checklist so that they don’t forget anyone’s order.
Where Is Coffee?
So, if corporate coffee houses are not your thing, then this is the app for you. Where Is Coffee? helps you find all of the unique, privately owned coffee shops in your area. The app even has a brief review of cafés, any special events they have going on, as well as their hours.
Ever have anxiety over embarrassing yourself in front of a barista? Worry no more! Coffee Talk is a complete dictionary of coffee house lingo. So the next time you order a grande double-mocha caramel soy latte with extra foam and whip, you can do it with confidence.
The whole aim of Coffee Buzz is to bring the “coffee social” to the iPad and the iPhone. This app uses Google Maps to help you find local cafes and locate other users on the network having coffee nearby.
If you are trying to fine-tune your espresso and latte making skills at home, you should download Barista. It provides you with tutorials and videos to help teach you espresso-machine basics and also has two latte art demonstrations.
If you encounter one of those people who happen to see the glass half empty and want to tell you what your iPad can not do, you can open this fun little app and point out to them that your iPad can even make coffee! Make Coffee is a virtual espresso maker that is very easy to use with graphics that are extremely realistic.
Star Trek Tech for the Strada
La Marzocco is known for being at the leading edge for quality and workmanship within the coffee industry. In collaboration with Stanford University and Apple, La Marzocco has developed the ultimate in iPad applications for their forthcoming Strada commercial espresso machine. This app will interface with the Strada and control functions and parameters such as time, temperature, pressure and cup profile. This amazing program even has analytical tools, using sensors in the grouphead, that will measure the body of a shot in viscosity measurements, spot TDS, and determine coffee origin. It even utilizes a pre-configured scoring of 0 to 10, termed the God Shot scale, that grades the quality of the shots produced from the Strada. With new generations of the iPad being released with built in cameras, the app is already configured to adapt facial recognition to recognize a barista and brew his or her favorite shot profile. When it becomes possible to connect an external camera to the iPad that faces out towards the café, it will be possible to do the same for regular patrons.
There is no telling what we can look forward to in the future of technology for the coffee world or for the iPad, but for now, we can enjoy all of the great programs that are out there. Developers are coming out with new apps on a constant basis, so make sure to keep watching for them as they come out.
Are there any other coffee-related apps for the iPad that you would like to share?
What kinds of coffee related apps would you like to see developed for the iPad?
The La Marzocco Swift Grinder Has No Equals.
The La Marzocco Swift is the only grinder that grinds, doses and tamps.
Making great espresso is really all about consistency. Having managed and worked in busy cafes, I understand how hard it was to make a consistent espresso. The true way to measure consistency when brewing an espresso, is to time it. Every good café has an ideal shot time it is trying to achieve. However all the factors that go into crafting an espresso are hard to repeat when many different individuals are involved. Each person may dose the coffee differently or may tamp a little differently. A café owner may find it hard to consistently monitor and to keep all his employees brewing consistent shots because of the human factor. Everyone is different.
The La Marzocco Swift Grinder can perform all the processes that are prone to human error. It will dose the amount of coffee exactly and precisely for each and every shot. As well as tamp with the precision of a machine. It was designed to tamp the grinds with exactly the same pressure every time. It has adjustable grind settings and two hoppers for your coffee. The engineering on the machine is unique,as it is still the only grinder able to perform all of these functions quickly. It is interesting how it is designed; but it is not important to understand how it works; only that it does.
Why choose this grinder?
You can easily create consistent shots with the Swift grinder. You simply lock your portafilter into the grinder, push a button and the machine will grind, dispense and tamp a shot with consistency and precision. Remove the handle, lock it into your espresso machine and your shot is all ready to be brewed.
You may also want to look at this grinder as a way to cut down on waste. The one thing you will quickly notice is how fast the Swift performs these tasks and also how neatly it does its job. You will not see grinds all around the grinder, as you would see in many busy coffee shops. A very busy café could waste up to several pounds of coffee a month when using traditional grinders and methods.
Who should buy this grinder?
This is a pretty easy question to answer. It should be purchased by anyone who
The La Marzocco is the only grinder in the world that can grind, dose and tamp. It definitely is worth looking into. It is a tool that will benefit the business and its customers.
If you have questions or if you would like to know if this grinder is right for your business, please contact me..