La Marzocco USA has held public events under the “On the Road” name in recent years, but the company is ramping up the scale of the event platform this year to include larger venues, increased participation, and a presentation series intended to give baristas an open platform without the shackles of competition rules.
The new On the Road events will debut in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday, Nov. 15, and Detroit on Thursday, Nov. 17, and La Marzocco’s Ryan Willbur recently told Daily Coffee News that the company plans to take notes from each event to even further expand the event series for other cities in the future.
For La Marzocco’s part, the event provides an opportunity to get out there and network with current and potential buyers, while also facilitating a forum for specialty industry community-building. Said Willbur, “The intention is for us just to be in front of our people and to bring communities together.”
Naturally, it also provides a platform to showcase new La Marzocco products. Last year at smaller OTR events, the company was pushing its Linea Mini home espresso machine, while this year Wilbur said the company intends to show off its Strada AV, which began rolling out en masse throughout the US market this past summer.
While Willbur expects the majority of attendees to be working coffee professionals, the event also has a distinct home focus, with sponsor Bonavita providing brewers for samples of current coffees made available by sponsor Cafe Imports. La Marzocco Home will also be leading demos during the early part of the day.
The most compelling portion of the event, however, is bound to be barista-led presentations. Wilbur described a kind of outrage among many people in the barista community last year following the SCAA’s announcement that it was canceling regional qualifying events for US barista competitions. Willbur said he and others immediately began discussing ways in which that communication, networking and education gap might be filled by a similar event.
“There was a conversation at the time about it doesn’t have to be elaborate, it can be simple. It doesn’t have to focus on the pageantry, it can be the content,” Willbur said, adding that baristas for La Marzocco’s event will be operating in a competition-free format, free to discuss issues that reflect their passions and interests, and truly in a spirit of collegiality. “We want them to focus exclusively on the content, the ideas, the concepts they want to present without those restrictions.”
As the days wind down early this time of year in the Upper Midwest, the evening will see a live taping of the Opposites Extract podcast from event emcees Joe Marrocco and Meister of Cafe Imports. There will also be a BYOV (bring your own vessel) latte art competition, in which competitors are asked to use any vessel of their choosing, so long as it’s not a cup, a bowl, or some other such humdrum vessel for serving foodstuff in liquid form.
Click here for a complete schedule of both events, plus registration details.