In the Emerald City


Back in April Hannah, our Quality Controller + Barista Trainer, headed for Emerald City (Seattle) to keep up with what’s going on in Specialty Coffee, globally. For three full days she took in all the sights, sounds and smells at the Global Specialty Coffee Expo and then headed North to visit the Swiss Water Decaf factory (that supplies us our decaf green beans) in Vancouver.

Here is Hannah’s recount of the adventure.


In 2016, the Specialty Coffee Association of America and the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe created the Specialty Coffee Association. And this year they hosted the first-ever Global Specialty Coffee Expo in Seattle. 

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There was so much going on. Kenya was the chosen country of origin at the Expo and cultural dancers performed alongside their coffee service at Kenya’s Coffee Board booth.

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On the show floor, there was booth after booth of coffee-equipment manufacturers and roasters and everyone was serving fantastic drinks.

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ACME & CO released their new cup design at the show.

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A barista from Starbucks Reserve brewing Syphon.

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The Strong Hold Smart Coffee Roaster.

The Strong Hold Smart Coffee Roaster, above, is for beginner roasters who can simply select a coffee, such as “Ethiopia – Guji”, and the machine will roast it according to a pre-programmed roast profile. Professional roasters are also able to use the machine in the manual mode - to control all the variables themselves.

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Poursteady.

With the Poursteady, above, baristas can use an app to set and assign recipes to the brewing stations lined up under the motorised track. This is not a barista replacement, baristas still dial in the dose and grind and have the ability to program in precise water-pouring patterns themselves.

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Compak PK series

The Compak Pk grinder (above) has a built in scale with auto tare and auto scaling system.

Symposia, Lessons & lectures
The reason that I went to SCA Global Coffee Expo was not only to network but to also expand my mind. There were some amazing leading industry speakers at Re:co Symposium event and The Coffee Woman Panel: “Building Influence and Changing Power Structures” was absolutely brilliant.

It’s fine to be uncomfortable. In fact, there are people around you living uncomfortably because you’re so comfortable.” – Tymika Lawrence (Genuine Origin)

Brown and black hands pick beans. White hands trade beans. Questions of intersectionality in coffee are global.” – Phyllis Johnson

And, the SCA were offering a number of certified classes through their Pathways Programme at this year’s event.

The National Coffee competition
The US Barista Championship, Brewers Cup Championship, Roaster Championship and Cup taster Championship were all hosted at the event.

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Kyle Ramage became the U.S. Barista Champion using frozen beans(!). He used a coffee from Finca Nuguo from Panama that he froze to -79° with dry ice.

By grinding frozen beans, Kyle was able to produce a narrower particle distribution curve (see the solid red line on the graph below) and a more consistent particle size than beans ground at room temperature. This means he is able to produce a higher extraction that doesn’t lose flavour. 

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Most people who freeze coffee don’t take care to minimise water exposure and/or use poorly sealed bags. Water exposure and using a bag that isn’t airtight will lead to the coffee smelling and tasting like the frozen food and other things stored near it. 

When asked by Sprudge if everyone going to try this now? Kyle replied ‘Frozen beans for all? I doubt it. It’s difficult to achieve well, and it took me months to make it work, months of conversations with Chris Hendon to figure it out. Maybe it could become a new thing, but I think it’s more likely to be something like the vacuum sealer process. It’s too intense and unnerving for normal folk. But I like to take risks.’

Best New Products
The Best New Product competition judges new products on quality and whether they add value to the specialty coffee (and tea) industry. Award trophies are presented to the winner exhibiting companies during the expo.

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The December Dripper

The December Dripper has the ability to change the number of openings at the bottom of the dripper allows you to slow the flow of water through the extraction. This means you can consistently reach your target brew time rather than control flow by varying the amount of coffee you’re brewing, or worse, by adjusting the grind away from what’s optimal. It won Best New Product in Consumer Coffee or Tea Preparation and serving Equipment category.

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The Acaia “Orion” – is a professional coffee bean pre-portioning system. The Bean Counter is designed to weigh out retail coffee bag portions, and can also weigh whole bean coffee in a café setting. It offers accuracy within .5 grams. It won the Best New Product in the Coffee Accessories category.

You can find the rest of the awarded products, here.

Design Lab
They also showcased some of the best design in the coffee world today at the expo. And you could learn the stories behind all of them. This area included coffee packaging, paper cup design and café design + aesthetics.

Some of the standouts below. Third Wave Water, Barista Parlour and Little Wolf Coffee.

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The Swiss Water Decaf Plant
After the SCA Global Coffee Expo, I drove up to Vancouver to visit the Swiss Water Decaf Plant. Swiss Water is a innovative craft that uses 100% chemical-free pure water to remove caffeine. They have a full R&D lab to constantly innovate, learn, and improve their decaffeination techniques for precise caffeine removal.

They working closely with the specialty coffee industry to craft amazing caffeine-free coffee by using a small batch process. 

Just like us at Kōkako, they are continuously monitoring their process and cup every batch to make sure their quality standards are met.

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- Hannah, Kōkako