by Joyce Klassen, Baratza
For Baratza, SCAA’s annual conference really is the event of the year. It’s the time when we get to connect face-to-face with both long-time and potential customers and friends, and to turn those 2D relationships into 3D relationships. During the year, we may connect over phone, Twitter, Facebook, etc., but actually shaking someone’s hand, making the personal connection, and hearing about their hopes and dreams for their roastery or cafe is what deepens the connections. At The Event, we get to close the loop and feel the value in the work we do of building coffee grinders.
In addition to making connections with North American attendees at the show, it’s also a great chance to meet the international coffee community. Hearing the stories and issues of coffee producers helps us understand the big picture from seed to cup. Learning about the specialty coffee market in other countries introduces us to new trends, brew methods, and opportunities in the worldwide specialty coffee market.
We’ve found that the show is very much a lightning rod for new ideas; so many people come and tell us about their experiences with our grinders. Happily, most of their feedback is good-—but sometimes it’s the challenging stories that help us innovate.
One of our biggest innovations came out of a casual conversation while waiting for coffee near the competition area at the Anaheim Event in 2010. Jared Rennie of Noble Coffee got to talking with Kyle Anderson, our chief innovator, about the ongoing rise in manual brewing. Jared said our grinder was a great tool for this, but that the whole pre-weighing of beans—especially in a busy cafe—was, frankly, a pain. What could Baratza do? Well, we love a challenge, so we focused that year on how to grind beans by weight and not by time. That was the birth of the Esatto and Vario-W products we introduced one year later in Houston—and which won us Best New Product! This innovation has been a true game changer on brew bars and in homes all over the world, and it came directly out of the kind of casual creativity that is possible at The Event.
Another way in which The Event impacts our business is that, for the last 6 years, we have planned to launch new products there. Having a specific date to shoot for keeps us focused on the project. The possibility of winning Best New Product is a huge incentive as well! Being recognized by our peers in the industry for developing a new product that is innovative and valuable to the specialty coffee market is incredibly rewarding.
Baratza is committed to the specialty coffee community and we want to support the coffee professionals that roast, prepare, and serve specialty coffee every day. To that end, we have become a national sponsor of the Barista, Brewers Cup, and Cup Taster Competitions. We are delighted that Baratza grinders are among the prizes for the regional and national winners of these competitions. It’s a win-win situation!
We have also been able to share our activities at The Event through social media, and we have enjoyed meeting many members of the SCAA and making these connections through this online activity. Be sure to check in on all The Event happenings through the hashtag #SCAA2014!
All in all, the Event offers the Barazta team a chance to visit new cities, make new friends, hang out with old friends, drink fantastic coffees, eat delicious meals, and create amazing memories! We’ve found The Event to be a rich experience, from beginning to end, both personally and professionally.
Additional Info: Find out how to enter the Best New Products Award at scaaevent.org/bestnewproduct and view last year’s winners at scaaevent.org/awards