NAMA Coffee Tea & Water Conference Attracts 900+ To New Orleans

Posted On: 12/13/2018

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LEGEND: Mike Tompkins (second from left), Coffee Products Associates, was honored as a Coffee Legend by the National Automatic Merchandising Association at the 2018 Coffee, Tea & Water conference in New Orleans, LA. Offering their congratulations are NAMA chairman Jeff Smith (left), president and chief executive Carla Balakgie and coffee committee chair Jon Snyder (right), Snyder Food Services (Fort Wayne, IN). Tompkins has been instrumental in planning and executing the NAMA Quality Coffee Certification Program and its new Essence of Coffee educational course.
NEW ORLEANS, LA -- National Automatic Merchandising Association vice-president of programs and services Lindsey Nelson reports that this year's Coffee, Tea and Water conference drew more than 900 industry members to the Hyatt Regency Hotel here. (Click here to read VT's previous article on the show.)

The CTW trade show, which once again co-located with the International Bottled Water Association's annual business conference, featured displays staffed by 126 industry manufacturers and suppliers. Nelson added that 45 of these were first-time CTW exhibitors.

A number of new elements at this year's event increased participants' engagement. These included an inaugural "Coffee Crawl" organized by the NAMA Foundation, at which 93 registrants had the opportunity to experience the flavors of New Orleans while visiting four coffee shops, including the celebrated Cafe du Monde in the French Quarter. The tour was guided by local historians and included a ride on the city's historic electric street railway.

Also new for 2018 was the CTW Café, a networking break area on the exhibition floor that invited visitors to try new equipment and sample new products.

Another innovation was the New Product Zone, which shone the spotlight on 20 items new to the industry. Showgoers were able to see and sample products, and to vote for their favorites as "the people's choice." The winners were Boylan Bottling Co.'s Nitro Cold Brew Coffee, in the beverages category; Danone North America, for Silk Dairy-free Vanilla Creamer in the  creamers, sweeteners and syrups category as well as its plant-based Vega Protein Snack Bar, in the food/snacks category; and Three Square Market, for its new Model 46 ADA-compliant micromarket shelf/kiosk ensemble, which is fitted with a 46" touchscreen patron interface.

Making its debut at this year's CTW was NAMA's updated comprehensive coffee overview course, "The Essence of Coffee." It will include four modules, the first two of which were presented in New Orleans.

The formal education program offered a varied round of timely topics including Bean2Cup strategies ("where profitability and sustainability meet"); Technology Trends in OCS; What's In the Cup: Trends in Flavors and Enhancements; and Water: The Foundation of a Perfect Cup.

Rounding out the curriculum was a concluding session presented by Rabobank's Jim Watson. He offered the latest insights into what today's consumers are looking for in a beverage, changing consumer trends and innovations, and how those changes impact the industry, as well as growth opportunities in ready-to-drink coffee and the future of bean to cup.

Highlights of the 2018 CTW included presentation of the annual Coffee Legend Award. Mike Tompkins was recognized as this year's winner during the opening general session.

Mike and Linda Tompkins started Coffee Products Associates in 1995 to support the import, sales and distribution of coffee beverage equipment. When Newco Enterprises (St. Charles, MO) bought Cafe 98 (then based in Vancouver, BC, Canada) in 1998, Mike worked for Newco until 2008. He continues to consult with stakeholders in coffee businesses, providing market research and recommendations by contract.

Tompkins participated in curriculum development and training at the Specialty Coffee Association of America, and he developed the Quality Coffee Certification Program for NAMA. He continues to present coffee supply-chain training for NAMA at CTW and to individual foodservice companies as requested.

The 2018 CTW was enlivened by an early-morning session, NAMAste -- Powerful Yoga with Powerful Women, conducted by NAMA's Women in the Industry Network (WIN), and by a networking evening hosted by the Emerging Leaders Network at the popular Saints and Sinners Lounge on Bourbon Street. This event brought together rising young industry professionals who are current members and those who are potential new ones.

Nelson thanked the association's Coffee Service Committee, event sponsors, trade show exhibitors, speakers, volunteers and industry members who attended. She urged everyone to make plans to attend next year's CTW, which is scheduled for Nov. 18 through 20 at the Marriott Hotel in Anaheim, CA. The 2019 CTW again will co-locate with IBWA's annual business conference.