If downtown Minneapolis seemed particularly abuzz this weekend, it's because the Specialty Coffee Association was holding its annual conference and exhibition at the convention center. Thousands of coffee producers, importers, retailers, and roasters came together for labs, lectures, and information sharing. If you wanted to, say, discuss preserving coffee plants' genetic diversity, or debate Starbucks' purchase of the company that makes Clover coffee machines, this was the place to be.
My favorite discovery was the Handpresso portable espresso maker, a French product making its American debut. The machine uses coffee "pods" and is pressurized by hand, like a bike pump--but you have to produce the hot water. While it's probably about as necessary as the reusable cup sleeves, it was a cool concept that produced a decent-tasting shot.
Three locals--Andrew Palmer of Paradise Roasters, Andrew Millstead of Kopplin's Coffee, and Peter Middlecamp of Black Sheep--participated in the U.S. Barista Championships, in which competitors have 15 minutes to prepare 12 coffee beverages (one espresso, one cappuccino, and one signature drink for each of the four judges). While none placed this year (Peter took sixth at last year's competiton), they were sure fun to watch. Check out these shots from photographer Michael McGuire:
(That's Adam Palmer in the reflection.)