Discussion:
SCAA Atlanta 2004 Journal, Part I
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Doug Cadmus
2004-04-30 03:09:59 UTC
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I should have started this days ago as I'm certain I'd have remembered
more... but here goes.

Friday...

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
tell no-one.

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.

Saturday...

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-
you.

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.]

-deCadmus
jim schulman
2004-04-30 04:51:08 UTC
Permalink
Thanks for posting, Doug.

If we get enough of these, we can do an SCAA rashomon with all the
different points of view.
Post by Doug Cadmus
I should have started this days ago as I'm certain I'd have remembered
more... but here goes.
Friday...
--
Jim

(***@ameritech.net)
Bob Yellin
2004-04-30 11:25:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by Doug Cadmus
I should have started this days ago as I'm certain I'd have remembered
more... but here goes.
Super report and a pleasure to finally meet you. Hope we'll meet up here
sometime soon. Lindsey invited me to visit GMCR and I plan to take her up
on it - hope to see you there as well.
Bob Y
Doug Cadmus
2004-04-30 22:04:51 UTC
Permalink
Sunday, Sunday, Sunday...!

Crawled out of bed 'round 5:30am to be certain I was wakeful enough to
present... 9am is not my favorite time to do such things, and given that
it's 9am on Sunday after a late Saturday the nite before for all the
attendees, I had little reason to expect much in the way of attendance.

Made to the hall early, checked out my equipment in the speaker ready-
room, drank a lot of coffee, and jammed a bit with Blue Man Group's "I
Feel Love" from the Complex Rock Tour DVD. [Wanted to have it playing
while folks filed in, but thought it smacked too much of "public
performance" with all the potential liabilities thereof. Pisser.]

The presentation zipped along. In no time I'd talked through an hour,
had time for some well-considered questions, and even had to move some
follow-up questions to the side so that the next session was able to set
up. Happy, happy all 'round.

Finished up conversations and wrap-up 'round that whole business just in
time to meet up with June and Barry, and got to do a short tour of the
show floor with June. Fun! June knows everybody and everybody knows
June. And I managed to come off as a terribly smart guy, 'cause I
remembered where booths were from reconnoitering the day before, so when
June said, "I wanna see the folks at thus and such," I had a pretty good
clue where to find them. There, June, my secret's out.

Then it was time to do the serious long-march of the floor. Happened to
be wearing my step-counter, and the total for the show floor was 17,287
steps... more than 8 miles of strolling this way and that, up and down
aisles. Got more than a few ideas for extending the catalog along the
way. What I realized only later that I did almost not at all was have
any coffee! Here I am at what is at the moment the center of the known
coffee universe, and I'd had maybe a couple of cups of coffee in the
morning before I presented, and then a single shot of espresso the
entire day! That's just so wrong! And it wasn't even a taste from the
glorified Versalab machine!

Late afternoon... the Meet the Author session was really quite good.
Fascinating to compare the approach of two of coffee's more illustrious
cuppers, Ted Lingle and Ken Davids. Just as much to compare the point of
view of those guys what have lent their own perspective to the industry
of coffee, Mark Pendergrast and Timothy Castle. My apologies if I in any
way monopolized the Q&A session afterward, but I couldn't help but
wonder where Ted and Ken found themselves with regard to a "taxonomic"
vs. an Epicurean approach to tasting.

Session over, it was time for the C-Members reception... whoever picked
the place, good on you! Barley's Billiards was just enough out of the
way for a new perspective on things, not too far to hoof it, and they
had Guinness.. and food! I only realized on arrival that I really hadn't
eaten all day. Or hosts were wonderful... thanks so much to the people
at Dallis Coffee, and Santa Cruz, and to Batdorf again for the nice
gifts. The best gift, however, was the fabulous chocolate nibby + coffee
bars that the folks from Dallis were passing around. Wow. Yum. Me want
more, carbs be damned. And it was awfully nice of the new SCAA prez to
stop by and have a few words. Clearly he's got a lot on his plate just
at the moment, so for him to stop by at all spoke well of the
organization's take on the C-Member contingent.

And after the C-Members, it was a short hike up the street to the
Transfair reception, where it was Salsa music, Sambucco and sassy food.
I had a great time being a food tester for one of Green Mountain's staff
who's a vegetarian... "Try this," he'd say. Nawp... there's pork sausage
in that. But boy, it's good... try this and you'll never do veggies
again!" ;) Very nice to meet so many of the folks we do business with,
and to get first-hand accounts of what's working, and what's not.
Sourcing beans for Fair Trade can be a tricky business... in particular
the process of making sure that the great coffee you've just cupped is,
in fact, certified. Through it all, I was more pleased than I can
express to see just how hard our coffee buyers work to create and to
maintain *relationships*.

I'm so used to how the Web works, you know? A problem comes up in the
network and you "route around". In that way, it tends to be self-
healing. By way of contrast, if a problem comes up with a coffee source,
or in the middle of the pipeline somewhere, you *could* route around
it... get another source. Use a different pipeline. But to do so would
cause untold damage to relationships that have taken years to create and
foster. So instead, you work to fix the damaged node itself. There's no
self-healing here... only the intensive, hands-on variety. That's a
*huge* commitment. Impressive.

Sadly, I didn't make it to the Barista party. I made my getaway for the
hotel 'round 10pm, and was out like a light-bulb. Guess that happens
when your day starts so early, and is packed to the gills along the
way...

Monday...

Clearly things were winding down... I think it wasn't just me who was
tiring after long days and mostly late nights. I arrived at the show
just in the nick of time to catch Heather's "big-air" pour in the
competition, and then turned my attention to something different... tea.

My better half has been showing some interest in turning tea into a
cottage business, so I decided to find her some suppliers: no problem!
There's lots of 'em at the show... it's only a matter of figuring out
who's who, who supplies whom, who's willing to deal with start-up types,
etc. Geez, one could spend the entire show just tryin' to ferret all
that out. Still, I met some very nice folks, sampled some lovely teas,
and brought back another few pounds of literature for my better half.

Toured a bit more with Barry. Missed the big Versalab inquisition. Wish
I wouldn't have, now that I read how impressed everybody's been with the
machine.

And then I departed for the looong trip back home... er, to an apartment
in a B&B in Vermont. Still workin' on that home thing.

Final thoughts...

Good stuff all 'round. Fabulous to put faces to names, and to learn more
about the people, and not just what they write. There's often a really
big gap between the two.

I'm awfully happy about how my newly-adopted company does business.

I'm even more impressed by Coffee Kids.

I'm catching on to what Fair Trade is up to, even though I'm wholly
aware that it's not the only solution... just one.

I think a lot of folks: roasters, retailers as well as suppliers, were
happily surprised by the C-Members and the Alties... lots of drive, lots
of energy, lots of brains, lots of initiative.

I think Mike Ferguson, and Fortune and Marshall [and all the other
people working begind the scenes that I don't know about] deserve a
standing ovation for the huge amount of work they did to create
something new and exciting out of whole cloth.

I think I'm ready for a nap.

Best to all...

-deCadmus
sprsso
2004-05-01 00:49:34 UTC
Permalink
On 30 Apr 2004 03:09:59 GMT, Doug Cadmus <***@bloggle.nospam.com>
wrote:

As we sauntered over
Post by Doug Cadmus
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.
Sure you got the right Al? Good meeting you....al
CoffeeKid
2004-05-05 01:05:16 UTC
Permalink
Post by Doug Cadmus
Met Mark Prince, who
was certain that we'd met before
Naw, I remember it now - I saw your photo before! :)

Mark
--
Mark Prince: www.coffeegeek.com/members/CoffeeKid
Work: www.webmotif.com Info: www.coffeegeek.com
Pers: www.spiffle.com Cafe: www.coffeekid.com
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