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SCA Re:co symposium & global special coffee expo focused on overcoming challenges.

The Specialty Coffee Association --the merged entity of the SCAA and the SCAE--held its first joint trade show, the Global Specialty Coffee Expo (GSCE), in Seattle, Washington, 20-23 April. The theme of both the Re:co Symposium and GSCE educational sessions and events were the ever-present challenges coffee faces today and in the future, primarily climate change and sustainability, farmer income and socioeconomic factors.

The Re:co Symposium, which preceded the Expo, took a hard look at the current state of the global coffee industry, but had an aspirational eye on the future with existing research and studies, as well as strategies that have been--and will hopefully be--implemented to help sustain the specialty coffee industry.

In his presentation, "The State of Coffee: The Risk & Rewards," SCA executive director, Ric Rhinehart, discussed the threats to coffee, particularly, specialty coffee; land use pressure from other more manageable and profitable crops; the ageing farmer population; and the detrimental effects of global warming, to name a few. He noted that 75 percent of coffee production comes from just five countries, and since 2000, 90 percent has come from Brazil and Vietnam. Rhinehart further acknowledged that production of washed Arabicas has stalled at around 40 million bags per year since 1990."At current growth rates, washed Arabicas could represent just 21 percent of worLd product by 2030," he lamented.

Bill Murray, president and CEO of the NCA, in his presentation, "Pore Over Policy: Coffee in Washington," discussed the World Health Organization downgrading coffee's risk with its 2016 decision to drop coffee's status as a possible carcinogen, and the unintended conseguences of the proposed US border adjustment tax and the effect on coffee.

"Agriculture's biggest challenges are climate change, increasing world population and declining production," said Maria Haga, executive director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, in her presentation, "Preserving Crop Diversity: The Case for Coffee," adding that the greatest problem with climate change is that climates are changing faster than plants can adapt. "There is no current global conservation strategy for coffee as there is for other crops so coffee is extremely vulnerable," she said, noting that her organization is now working with World Coffee Research to create a coffee conservation strategy.

Other sessions included "Cryogenics: Facts & Applications," by Dr Christopher Hendon, who discussed the concept of freezing green coffee to preserve high-value crops; "Yeasts in Coffee: Uncovering Microbial Diversity that Could Influence Terroir," where Dr Aimee Dudley explained how understanding microbial yeast can aid in coffee's fermentation process, which can help reduce waste; and "Coffee Fermentation: A Winemaker's Perspective," in which Lucia Solis, who specializes in "microbial demucilagination," or the use of microbes to process coffee following pulping, detailed her work applying commercial yeast strains at coffee mills to modulate flavours coming from the tank.

GSCE sessions also targeted the challenges the specialty coffee industry faces and offered potential solutions. The "Potato Defect: Science, Collaboration & Solutions" session discussed new information discovered about the antestia bug as well as new techniques for detecting the bug and the subsequent "potato taste" that often occurs after a coffee plant has been infected. Employing strong processing procedures at washing stations and dry mills can help prevent antestia infestations. Experiments using an "electronic nose" to detect the potato taste defect failed, but the use of hyperspectral imaging has potential. However, panellist Timothy Hill, coffee buyer at Counter Culture Coffee, noted that hyperspectral imaging has not yet been used in coffee. "It is believed that [the infected beans] can be sorted, though it has yet to be determined how well they can be sorted. But this is the most promising solution so far," he said.

In "Living Wage: An Opportunity for the Coffee Industry to Close the Farmworkers Sustainability Gap," panellists discussed creating a living wage as a way to secure that the majority of people involved in agriculture have access to dignified living conditions. The Global Living Wage Coalition is conducting studies to understand what the living is in several coffee-producing regions in order to help understand the gap between current wages and living wages while fostering opportunities to close that gap.

This year's Expo offered a new show-floor layout that ensured attendees visited both main halls--consequently, both were well-trafficked during all three days of the trade show. Cold brew coffee seemed to be the "thing" again with multiple exhibitors presenting their new or newest iterations, either in the form of standard or nitro cold brew, and sampling abounded.

Kenya, whose coffee is known for its enticing aroma, citrus undertones, full body and fruity, floral acidity, was the Portrait Country. Samples of Kenyan coffees were plentiful from producers and exhibitors.

The 2018 Global Specialty Coffee Expo will take place in Seattle again, 19-22 April.

Caption: Photo courtesy of the Specialty Coffee Association
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Comment:SCA Re:co symposium & global special coffee expo focused on overcoming challenges.(NEW & NOTABLE: TEA & COFFEE REPORTS BREWING WORLDWIDE)
Author:Facenda, Vanessa L.
Publication:Tea & Coffee Trade Journal
Date:Jun 1, 2017
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