See and be USB-seen!
A new day in Houston, TX brought with it sunny skies, a nice breeze and an overwhelming need for bananas. As the day winds down we’ve witnessed some of the best coffee this great country has to offer. Whether you came for the semifinals of the prestigious United States Barista Championships, the same round of the still-fresh Brewers Cup, the immense specialty coffee trade show or any of the other myriad educational, developmental or recreational goings-on at the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s annual Event, attendees had no shortage of coffee geekery to amuse themselves with.
Front and center for The Event was the United States Barista Championship semifinals. The presentations this year were heavy on the close relationships that modern roasters are developing with the farms they support, and how those relationships benefit an industry in the midst of crisis. Never before has this industry looked to the coming years with more uncertainty, but also never before has this industry looked to our partners overseas and in distant lands and thought that maybe that distance wasn’t quite as ominous as it ONCE was. More and more we look towards the future and see not just our shops or our superstar baristi glowing in the halo of glory, but we now see that limelight shared with the farmers, processors and importers that provide us with those sweet, sweet beans that we’ve sworn our lives to.
Amongst the rumblings and hushed but urgent conversation buzzing about the convention space were spoken fears about rising C-Market prices, harsh global swings in supply and demand and the eventual stabilization of global coffee culture. Are these problems that we as an industry have the ability to change? What lasting impact will these crises have on the industry as a whole? Do current coffee prices and demand even leave room for Specialty Coffee. The answer to all these questions is, of course, a resounding “YES!”
The coffee industry on the whole has seen it’s share of cyclical ups and downs, but that unpredictability simply cannot stand any longer. With drastically increasing green coffee prices showing no signs of slowing their meteoric rise, retail coffee prices are reaching a critical psychological threshold in the eyes of the consumer that, once passed, demand a greater contribution on the part of all involved in the distribution chain. That means that growers must grow better coffee, and more of it. It means that roasters must delve deeper into the science and art of their craft to roast coffees that defy and exceed expectation. It means that the superstar baristi mentioned above must give their lives to their craft, not just pursuing that elusive perfect cup but achieving it, over and over again.
What’s so special about this years’ USBC is that more than ever, we as an industry are beginning to see these goals come into fruition. The competitors this year are showing more and more the value of supporting the supply chain to a fault. Local sourcing, fanatical and loving care for the final cup, an emphasis on hospitality and stewardship to the almighty brown bean are all hallmarks of this competition.
It’s an exciting time for our industry and all the billions around the world that rely on the beverage to add value to their lives. The bad news is that the future does hold uncertainty. The good news is that we, as an industry, are intrepidly gearing up to face down the greatest challenge we have ever faced. The consumer can rest assured that the next few years MUST produce the finest coffees the world has ever seen, or we shall simply cease to be relevant.
And by golly, we all know that can’t happen.
Dallis Bros Coffee is thrilled by the coming challenges we face, but we want to know what the consumers are thinking. Drop us a line and give us your thoughts. Leave a comment. Check out our Twitter and Flickr feeds. Most importantly, just get involved. Without the guy or gal on the other end of this whole thing drinking these coffees that we pour our hearts into, there wouldn’t be much of an industry to worry about, would there.
The competition is still in full swing, with a whole other day of finals rounds to look forward to, so keep tuned and let us know what you’re thinking.
See you out there!