The Specialty Coffee Association Expo event is always the most significant coffee event in the US; this year was no exception. The show was in no way lacking sponsorship, exhibitors or attendees, with over ten thousand attendees. It was our first event or mass gathering for many of us since the pandemic started in March of 2020. The show was a homecoming of sorts and had an odd sense of symmetry, given that the 2019 show was also in Boston. What made this show, the 2022 show, memorable was seeing for the first time the pivots and evolutions that companies have made since 2020.
All the rumors of the trends created by the pandemic seem to be ringing true when you witness the products and marketing direction of many coffee businesses. More consumer-focused products and integrations were available. FAEMA introduced their FAEMINA prosumer home espresso machine, which features the ability to brew filter coffee and espresso on the same machine. Breville provided a sneak peek into their next home espresso innovation but, more interestingly, promoted their new online store beanz.com. Beanz.com offers a variety of coffees from roasters around the country. Additionally, you can leave it to the Barista’s Choice program to choose your coffee for you or take a quiz to select a coffee for you based on your flavor preferences. This type of vertical integration of offering the equipment and the coffee to put inside was utilized by other companies, including Ikawa with their consumer small-batch roaster and Bellwether.
More companies are trying to close the gap between them and the end-user. The pandemic brought to light the inefficiencies of the value chain and spurred innovation to connect with customers directly and offer added value to them, including education and additional products.
The irony of all this innovation and development is that many of these products are not currently available even if you want them. Bunn has been back-ordered for brewers with a six-month waiting list. Cimbali and FAEMA are in the same boat with a ton of orders backed up due to constraints in running with reduced staff, supply chain issues for necessary materials and, of course, shipping delays. Nevertheless, there were beautiful new machines and new ideas that you will just have to wait a little longer to utilize in your business.
We also witnessed the effects of the “great resignation”, as it has been deemed. Many friends and contacts have shuffled around and found new homes with different companies or have left the coffee industry altogether. There were fresh faces from other industries excited to join the ranks and get plugged into the coffee business.
The combination of new and innovative equipment and business strategies, joined with the changing positions and changing faces, made for a rather fulfilling show. There was definitely a sense of excitement and energy and satisfaction in being caught up on what was current—these elements combined for a great show and a keen curiosity for 2023.