There is a reason why you meet so many people in the industry who have been here for 10-20 years - in one word, Passion. There is a passion in this industry that doesn't seem to fade over time. Even though Symposium
is billed as an executive series, today's conversations applied to someone who has been here for 4 months or 10 years. It is easy to get wrapped up in the discussions and become passionate yourself.
and myself, Nichole DuPont
--have only been in the industry a collective 2 years and 4 months. This is our first Symposium, and we are finding that before we exit the door of a session we start an intense conversation about how we can continue to contribute our own unique efforts to a dynamic industry.
So here's the days recap:
We started out listening to top industry leaders discussing the state and future of specialty coffee in a Charlie Rose-style session. To get a visual, picture yourself as a fly on the wall during a casual breakfast listening to people such as Dub Hay of Starbucks, James Hoffman the 2007 World Barista Champ, Nathan Herszkowicz of Brazilian Coffee Industry Association (ABIC), Larry Blanford of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and David Griswold of Sustainable Harvest discuss over an hour of topics ranging from new sources of origin, to competition for kitchen counter top space, to developing better ways to educate the consumer about coffee, and the list goes on.
We could really identify when each participant discussed how he stumbled into the coffee industry and never looked back. It gives "newbies" like Kris and myself great hope that we can learn day-by-day about a global industry and someday confidently share information about this wonderfully complex beverage.
One of the biggest topics of discussion was the single cup market. James Hoffman said that when he first got into coffee, consistency was key. But consumers have interestingly started to embrace inconsistency. "People want great and they don't care what form it comes in" said Hoffman, "we need to embrace change."
Eileen Hassi from Ritual Roasters added, "It's interesting to see how the customers expectations have changed in the last five years." For instance she said french press was all the rage and now "that's not good enough anymore". When Hy Bunn was asked "why now," why is the industry turning their attention towards single cup, hand-crafted coffees
he explained it comes down to quality in the cup. It's about listening to consumers and responding to their desires for a satisfying beverage experience in the ways that they define it.
The presentations illustrated the history of and current types of single serve, from mass market applications to the boutique setting. The best part was being able to then go and sample a variety of single serve brews at different stations set up in the lobby area. Talk about a teachable moment! But after hearing Peter Giuliano's annotated history of single serve and the fact that this coffee started this way dating back to rudimentary brew bars in the Ottoman Empire, Kris and I began to wonder if this really is a "paradigm shift" (a descriptor repeated many times today) or a modern-day reincarnation of simply a great way to brew coffee?
Wow, can you tell we are just a little bit excited even after a full-day of sessions? We are already looking forward to day two of Symposium and what the rest of SCAA has in store for us.
P.S. It was a nice start this morning to see the Mission Coffee Can
bookmark in every Symposium registrant's notebook folder. Check out Episode 8!
P.P.S. As we were finishing this post, we chatted with our colleague, Joe Sturm, in the lobby and he reports that Booths #2069 and 2169 are shaping up great for The Event
. Stop by and see us!
Tired of all the words? Then look at our experience in pictures. Be sure to check out the BUNN 2010 SCAA Scrapbook