LONG BEACH, CA — The Specialty Coffee Association of America is putting the finishing touches on its 20th Annual Conference & Exhibition, themed “Roots,” as VT goes to press. It’s scheduled for May 2-5 at the Minneapolis (MN) Convention Center.
The event draws thousands of coffee producers, exporters, importers, roasters, retailers and manufacturers from more than 40 countries for the opportunity to expand their industry knowledge by touring the trade show and participating in more than 100 hands-on labs and lectures.
More than 700 booths will showcase everything from green and roasted specialty coffees through commercial and home brewers and coffee roasting equipment to coffee drinks and mixes, flavorings, syrups and more. The exhibition is open afternoons from May 3 through 5.
This year’s featured country is Ethiopia, carrying through the conferences “roots” theme (coffee seems to have been cultivated in Ethiopia before it was known anywhere else). Conference-goers will have the opportunity to join Ethiopian coffee growers, cooperatives and exporters in two unique forums. One describes the progress of the Ethiopian Fine Coffee Trademarking and Licensing Initiative, while the other discusses how Ethiopian producers and international distributors can meet the challenge of increasing the supply of Ethiopian fine coffees while improving and maintaining quality.
Michael Shuman, author of The Small-Mart Revolution: How Local Businesses Are Beating the Global Competition, will keynote the conference on May 2 from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM.
Educational tracks dedicated to subject areas including agroecology, business, retail, roasting and sustainability are tailored to provide coffee professionals information and training to apply to their businesses.
A high-profile panel of coffee industry experts will discuss key sustainability issues, such as the challenges of “greening” a business; the possible effect of global warming on coffee growing in Central America; how a coffee business can become more “carbon-neutral;” sustainable trade; and the impact of certifications on farmers and the environment. Presenters in SCAA’s Sustainability Track include the Coffee Quality Institute, International Institute for Sustainable Development, Rainforest Alliance, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center, SOPPEXCA (Union of Agricultural Cooperatives), Sustainable Harvest at Origin, TransFair USA and Utz Certified North America.
The International Relations Council, a long-standing SCAA committee comprised of members from organizations representing the world’s major coffee producing and consuming countries, will host the fourth International Coffee Symposium. Beginning with the eagerly anticipated “State of the Coffee Industry” address, the symposium focuses on the specialty coffee industry’s producer partners who can become more prosperous by taking advantage of one or several of the certifications or financing options available to specialty coffee growers. The symposium features two intensive seminars that will seek to clarify many of the issues surrounding these subjects. They will explore various social and environmental advances and achievements.
The Roasters Guild 2008 Coffee of the Year Competition, hosted by Roast Magazine, Probat Burns and Volcafe, will honor the world’s best specialty coffee.
Complete details on SCAA’s 20th Annual Conference & Exhibition are available at conference.scaa.org, or by calling (562) 624-4100.