Driven: An SCAA Member Supported Cafe Experience

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By Christopher Schooley, SCAA

One important aspect of my role with SCAA is working to insure that attendees have access to excellent coffee offered at our events. Over the past few years, SCAA staff has been working closely with sponsors and volunteers in order to transform the way that we approach coffee service at the annual Event and all other SCAA events throughout the year. The goal has been to create true specialty coffee experiences: setting a proper stage for sponsors and the coffees they choose to showcase, and providing volunteers opportunities to utilize their skills and learn more.

We feel strongly that moving away from passive coffee breaks (lonely urns sitting on tables for self service) and replacing them with pop-up cafes and other member-driven coffee service is the best way to achieve the goal of having great coffee at our events. It is paramount to us to provide coffee experiences that include a coffee professional who is a part of preparing and serving that cup of coffee. Great coffee isn’t just the coffee itself, but also all of those involved from seed to cup. Having someone prepare and serve wonderful coffees to attendees and making sure that that coffee is delivered from one person’s hands into another’s to enjoy makes such a tremendous difference in that enjoyment. This truly reflects a core principle of our organization: that good coffee doesn’t just happen.

This year we’ve created even more opportunities for sponsored pop-up cafes for our members, as well as the incredible member-supported cafe, Driven, that will showcase volunteer service in the hall outside of our Skill Building Workshops. These volunteer opportunities are an integral part of our events. We cannot say enough about how important our volunteers and sponsors are to all aspects of the organization and how much we value and appreciate them. A smiling and enthusiastic coffee professional preparing and serving the truly phenomenal coffees provided by our sponsors makes it possible that every cup enjoyed by an Event attendee can be that spark and that fuel that drives them to create and take part in their own unique specialty coffee experiences. We’ve taken the passivity out of our coffee breaks: every cup is made on—and with—purpose.

Please visit Driven and all of our pop-up cafes at The Event this year. You can find their locations listed in the official SCAA Event App under ‘Exhibitors’ or ‘Member Cafes.’ (To download the app, search ‘SCAA 2015.’) We’ll tell you more about each of the pop-up cafes in upcoming issues of The Daily Edition!

Christopher Schooley is the coffee design and experience coordinator for the Specialty Coffee Association of America.