2004-04-30 03:09:59 UTC
more... but here goes.
Thanks to whomever posted in such a timely fashion the essentials of
getting from the airport to downtown by train. Hard to beat a buck and
change to get from one point to the other. Arrived in the evening, and
headed over to the show, meeting a couple folks from Green Mountain's
coffee team along the way... good clue I was in the right place. Found
...al and his patient bride [she's gotta be, doesn't she?] in the hallway.
I surprised him mightily by calling him by name... but I'd just moments
before heard him introducing himself to Ken Davids. ;) As we sauntered over
to the opening reception area it was soon evident that Al's stock trade is
to thoroughly charm everyone he meets... a talent I do *not* possess.
Only moments after the reception was opened, the Alties claimed a table,
and a great many introductions ensued... Alan, Ben, Chris S., Gonzo, Andy
S., Marshall, Richard, Owen, and later Bob Yellin [shame that we have to
travel so far to meet when we live so near... I imagine we'll be able to
fix that soon]. Very pleased to see Jim S. again, and Ed, and the always
delightful Jarrett family. [The Jarrett family! How cool is that!?] My
thanks to the very gracious Alan Frew who wouldn't allow me to buy a single
drink... something about not wanting to have to pollute his beloved land
with U.S. dollars, or some such. Alan, you're a gentleman, but I promise to
All too soon it was time for my self-imposed curfew: back to the room at
9pm to work on ye ol' presentation. P.S. Would somebody kindly let the
people in Atlanta know about Atkins? Too much carb-laden stuff at the
reception... was fighting sleep for the next several hours.
Dawned a little bit sooner than I'd expected. Managed to drag myself to the
reverse consumer panel only just in time to catch Bob Yellin berating my
esteemed company for quality lapses from a few years back. Note to self:
drop some of our new Kenya AA by Bob's to see if he sings a new tune.
Consumer cupping lab followed soon on the heels of the reverse panel... in
the hallway I meet Fortune, Fortune, Fortune! [!] What a peach! And at the
lab I find the esteemed Don Schoenholdt to be every bit the delightful
personality I expected, and then some... not just an industry luminary, but
an industry treasure. And Lindsey... well, I've had the excellent good
fortune [fortune, fortune, fortune!] to find myself working hand-in-hand
with Lindsey here in Vermont. She's smart, she's funny, and she tells
wicked good stories. I learn something new every day I'm in her company. It
was a pleasure to [re]introduce Lindsey to Barry, the guy from whom I've
learned most everything I actually know about coffee. [Barry, I've made a
point to let the coffee team here know that when I'm on-target, it's your
tutelage... if I'm in error it's my own doing.]
Folks, the lab was not only educational, but FUN. Despite the audio issues
and the fact that the "room" was less than conducive to focusing one's
self, the place was charged with enthusiasm, and fairly thrummed with the
undercurrent: "We're here, we're really cupping coffee with Don and
Lindsey!!" Way cool. On the whole, I'd call it a successful event. I think
it'd been just as successful for some if we never even got to the coffee,
but only just listened to Don for the entire session. ;) And I know it was
a successful event for Bob Yellin, who walked away with an enviable trophy.
Following the hustle and bustle of this event, Fortune's "Coffee and Zen"
meditation was a rewarding, refreshing change of pace. A lovely idea, only
enhanced by Fortune's tireless solicitation of goodies for the occasion.
[Which end of the chocolate Buddha does one eat first? First become the
Buddha, and it matters not.] ;) And where can I get one of those bells?
Hit the show floor sometime after that... caught a couple of the USBC
competitors doing their thing. Some very nice work.
The exhibition floor itself is near overwhelming. I made a point on
Saturday, however, just to familiarize myself somewhat with what was there,
just so's I'd know what I'd want to come back to when I had more time. I
quickly exhausted my mental note space, and had to resort to writing things
down... hate that. And, found it curious how much my perspective has
changed in the last couple of months. Where last year I would have been
visiting every greenie and studying every lil' roaster I could find, I
instead was looking at products with an eye toward what would work in our
catalog; filling in some blanks, filling out some offerings, etc. That, and
of course meeting more of the people that I've spoken to on the phone for
years... so nice to meet Kyle from Baratza, Terry Z, Jim from Firstline,
all the folks at Dallis Coffee, and so many more.
Early evening Saturday was the Coffee Kids reception. I can't say it strong
or clear enough: these are fabulous people doing really good work! I found
Bill Fishbein to be passionate, personable... perhaps a bit overwhelmed at
the enormity of the task at-hand. He's assembled an A-team of committed and
caring people. I'm so pleased to be able to be able to make my dinky little
contributions to them, and to know that every penny I give is going to be
put to work on projects that really matter... really have an impact. In the
course of the evening, too, I found that the folks at Batdorf & Bronson are
really swell people, too... and I was delighted to meet the esteemed Jim
Reynolds of Peet's, Mark Pendergrast, Linda Lorenzetti [Birth of Coffee],
and both the editor and publisher of "Roast" magazine. Met Mark Prince, who
was certain that we'd met before. And Fortune, bless her lil' heart, kept
saying the nicest things about me to my associates at Green Mountain, more
than one of whom remarked that their estimation of me was markedly higher
by virtue of the fact that I know Fortune. [A fair statement as I think
anyone who's met her is better for it!]
Finally, and all-too-brief to suit me, a little time with the Alties at our
very own reception. [Woohoo!] Thanks so very, very much to June who brought
everything together [she's a gravitation force, I tell you] and what a
shame that little Maddy wasn't feeling well, and June couldn't be there to
actually enjoy what she'd wrought. Barry, your toast to lil' Maddy's
namesake was welcome, and thoughtful, and completely choked me up. Thank-
Shortly after discovering how lovely coffee tastes from proper beerware, I
again had to take my leave... curfew time, and my presentation now only a
few hours away.
Lesson learned from day one: if you see something that needs doing, do it!
Had a blast helping out at the cupping session and at the Zen and Coffee
session... and probably took away more from each session than if I'd just
left it to somebody else.
[more to come in part the second.]