SCAA Symposium 2012 Day One

The first day of Symposium kicked off with presentations on the market, exploring volatility elevated prices and consumer response. Moving into discussion around the supply chain, presenters explored the potential for collaboration among key players in the supply chain and how to address the inequalities that exist in the chain.

We’ve had some fantastic coverage from our team of bloggers, as well as a flurry of activity on the #symp2012 Twitter feed. You can also view the Facebook photo set here.

Erin Meister of Counter Culture Coffee provides a comprehensive, insightful overview of day one here. She writes, “When the program kicked in with the first discussions about market volatility and strengthening the supply chain, it was clear we were all full of one thing in particular: Questions, many (perhaps too many) of them rhetorical. But also hope and enthusiasm for the future of speciality coffee in this particular moment, in 2012. … The takeaways from the morning’s discussions managed to agree on a few significant points: Collaboration is key; volatility is unavoidable but not necessarily a death sentence to our segment of the industry; and innovation is as close to a “silver bullet” as we’re going to get, if we can keep our minds and our conversations open to it.”

From our friends at, “SCAA programming kicked off today with the 2012 Symposium. Attendees came from over two hundred companies worldwide, representing the entire chain, including producers, mill owners, coop managers, agricultural machine manufacturers, government heads, exporters, importers, roasters, buyers, baristas. On the docket for this impressive assembly: To continue last year’s discussions of market volatility, climate change, strengthening the supply chain, defining specialty, and capturing consumer interest. Heavy stuff, man.” Read the entire post here.

Trish Rothgeb of Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters notes the highlights of her day here. She notes, “Some of the most fun I had today was talking to the baristas serving coffee to the crowd. After reading the description of Cartel’s Salvadoran offering from the Santa Ana region, we wondered what the coffee would taste like if the Pacamara variety was sorted out from the others in the mix. Such a strange and cumbersome endeavor, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, baristas just won’t let up if you ask them to try something. They just need someone to ask them a little question, and they’re off and running.”

The incomparable Tom Owen of Sweet Maria’s / Coffee Shrub shares his perspectives here. He begins with an honest assessment of his prior perceptions of Symposium, stating, “I have always had mixed feelings about the SCAA Symposium. And in my inimitable style, I have had them in absence of any actual experience: I never went to Symposium. It is the 2 day event before the SCAA Exposition that is billed as a meeting of Industry Leaders, and features a stacked bill of various personalities, consultants, a couple scientists, market researchers, financial experts, and interpretive dance. Okay, strike the last one.”

He concludes with a new perspective, “But when do you get to hear multiple perspectives on what is driving instability in the commodity market from people who focus entirely on that? How about some solid criticism of romantic notions about coffee varietals and cultivation from people with 40 years experience in a producing country? How can that not be enriching? When I consider my paltry experience with market watching, hedging coffee contracts, or on the other hand, a week or two in a producing country trying to understand all the complexities of quality and production, can that meager experience not benefit from listening to the folks on stage? Hell yeah.”