Melissa Allison follows the world's biggest coffee-shop chain and other Seattle caffeine purveyors.
Coffee trade shows battling over Seattle
Posted by Melissa Allison
Issaquah-based Coffee Fest, which holds trade shows all over the country, is battling plans for a much bigger coffee convention to anchor in Seattle.
Coffee Fest has hosted a show in Seattle every year since 1992. Last fall, it included the Northwest Barista Competition, which is sponsored by the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA).
Now SCAA says Seattle looks like a sweet resting spot for its annual convention. After rotating the shindig among various cities, it's looking to settle here in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018, and possibly 2020 and 2021.
Why's that? The president of the SCAA, Peter Giuliano of Counter Culture Coffee in North Carolina, wrote last night on the group's Facebook page that Seattle (the convention center and visitors bureau) has made an attractive offer that would free up time and resources.
"The way things stand now, there are only a handful of cities that can handle our show (our show is unusual; we need to roast and brew coffee for example, and we need a very high ratio of classroom space for all of our educational classes). Cities like New York, D.C., Chicago and San Francisco aren't well suited for us, are super expensive, and frankly aren't that attracted to our event," he wrote.
Coffee Fest is fighting back. Its social media expert sent a letter alerting SCAA members.
"While Coffee Fest certainly doesn't own Seattle, we do object to the SCAA's plan to all but permanently locate here and expect that given the details and facts, you may object too," reads the letter, which launched a spirited discussion at BaristaExchange.com.
The shows cannot be held together, Coffee Fest founder Alan Silverman wrote in that string.
"The problem is we share many of the same vendors and if we split the revenue neither of us come out in the black. That is actually the crux of the problem. Vendors will have to choose which show they will exhibit in because it does not make sense for them to come to the same city twice a year and two years in a row," Silverman wrote.
Coffee Fest did not disclose attendees at last fall's show in Seattle, which had 265 exhibitors. SCAA's convention in Anaheim this past spring had 425 exhibitors and 8,025 attendees.
There's a fair bit of discussion about the battle on Barista Magazine's Facebook page, too.
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