Talking to visitors at the consumer show CoffeeCon this past weekend at the Zhou B Art Center on Chicago’s near South side, I heard countless iterations of the same phrase: “I had no idea this much went into coffee.”
This phrase might follow an equipment-focused seminar on brewing, a conversation with a local roaster on the show floor or a presentation on the basics of green coffee supply. It is an indicator of discovery, something by which the entire specialty coffee world benefits.
The third annual Coffee Con — which is this year expanding to San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles — stands in notable contrast to the coffee industry’s other reputable trade shows, primarily for its consumer focus; Think of what might be a barista’s minute-long opportunity to engage a new customer in the joys of quality coffee and expand it into a full day. There are no competitions — only giveaways, seminars and demos.
The show also is a reflection of what can be, among consumers, baffling diversity in the marketplace. How do you reconcile seminars on sustainability and supply/green quality issues from the likes of Marysabell Caballero or ACE‘s Anna Abatzoglou with demos of the latest products in the pod segment?
While those things do exist in different worlds, they are all part of the CoffeeCon universe. In this way, the show makes intergalactic travel possible, unveiling new worlds and, hopefully, promoting the simple but powerful act of discovery.
Here is more from the show: