SCAA Road Trip Report – New Industry Developments & Commercial Machines

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by: (1180 pts)

I had the opportunity to attend the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) show in Houston this year. It was a great show and seemed to be very well attended. I really like going to these trade shows and have actually been attending them on and off for about 15 years. It was nice to see all the people I know in the industry and to also check out some new products.

The seminars are the biggest highlights for me, as they are very informative. One of the seminars I attended consisted of a roundtable discussion with café owners. Everyone really wanted to focus on quality as well as brand building in this competitive environment. The café owners voiced a lot of concerns regarding rising green coffee bean costs and how it affects drink prices, café operators, as well as roasters and their relationships.

I also took a seminar with green-bean coffee buyers. I found this seminar interesting as well as thought provoking. It is amazing how much work it takes to purchase, process, and ship coffee. I listened intently as the buyers talked about purchasing direct trade and how changing prices shortened the lengths of buying agreements from three years or more to one year or less. The buyers also discussed how organic coffee is no longer thought of as second grade, as it was a long time ago. It is now highly sought after because of the increased quality. 

Along with all of the coffee talk, I also got a chance to catch up with our commercial vendors and get a sneak peek at their new products. Here are a few highlights of the new products and industry developments that were on display at the SCAA show: 

Rancilio debut its new Egro super-automatic espresso machines, which were well designed and very functional. A new Rancilio system will purportedly cut down on the amount of preventative maintenance visits the Ergo requires, which will in turn reduce the long-term costs of ownership. The technicians I spoke with, who have worked on the Rancilio Ergo machines, really seem to like this new technology. 

Additionally, Rancilio introduced a new traditional machine named Xcelsius, which has some unique brewing qualities. It can produce repeated shots at the same temperature. The Xcelsius maintains exact temperature using a double-phase heating technology. It also incorporates some new brew group technology and controls. This unique machine can also begin brewing at a cooler temperature and gradually get hotter as the shot is being made. Vice-versa, the Xcelsius can start hot, and gradually cool down as the brewing process progresses. This is a unique feature not found in any other espresso machine. Rancilio currently has two international patents associated with the Xcelsius.

The Xcelsius was developed in conjunction with Polytechnic, a leading technology school in Turin, Italy. There some well-known baristas and industry people helping to test and review the new Rancilio machines. The feedback from everyone has been very positive. The process of changing the shot temperature during the brewing process is, according to many, an eye opener. The technique produced very different results using the same coffee. As you can imagine, this groundbreaking technology has the potential to change the industry.

Along with Rancilio, I also got a chance to catch up with La Marzocco. The company was very proud to introduce the Strada, a multi-boiler machine. The unique thing about the Strada is its ability to offer programmable variable brew pressure during espresso extraction. Combine this with the machine’s ability to brew specific shots at different temperatures, and you have the ability to really dial-in your shots. A lot of the baristas believe that the Strada will offer a great way to brew single-origin espresso and to really highlight the unique flavors found in a particular coffee. The machine is not only technologically innovative but it is also really beautiful. Whole Latte Love will be adding this machine to our site shortly.

I hope you enjoyed my insider’s look at the SCAA show. Along with these exciting commercial machines, I also got to see many products that are more suited to the home market, which I will go over my next blog. If you have any questions about the show or machines, please feel free to leave a comment.

Mark
Commercial Sales Department

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