Ok the blogging never really happened while I was away for a number of reasons. The main one being I didn’t give myself enough time to do anything there. It was very crammed with lots of things to do. I’m back in old blighty now and trying o gather my thoughts I’ll try and break it down into small pieces.
Day 1 (well kind of day 0 Thursday).
I arrive into Los Angeles airport (I’m sorry I know it sounds all big time but that’s what happened and it isn’t as big time as you may think). The time there 17:00 hrs, the time at home 1 am Friday morning. I’ve been awake for 20 hours and arrive in a place on my own not knowing where I’m going. There was a time a few years ago where I would have been petrified to travel alone with such ill preparation. Two weeks ago I was not going anywhere, now I’m here.
I flew into LA because long beach airport is small regional and was going to cost around £200 more in flights and four hours because of the connections longer, so I used some of that money saved to hire a car and drive down. Lon beach is around 45 mins in the car so I thought not to bad. As a treat to myself I decided to hire a Convertible, the sun the warmth just leant themselves to it. The one I’d order (a really cheap thing) had been given out by mistake so I end up with a Ford Mustang huge V6 soft top beast. I join the Freeway (honestly still not big time billy at all), and panic. I’ve since found out that the people of California talk about two things, the sun and the traffic. Prime evidence of this was one of the mornings where I couldn’t sleep (I’ll tell you more latter) I was watching a TV program that was all about the traffic 100% traffic. And at 4:30 am there were Jams. I’ve since found out a lot of this is to do with the west coast being 8 hours behind the east, a lot of the commodity buyers aligned to New York, have to start earlier.
So any way back on track, the traffic was back to back and hour fifteen to do a 30 min journey most of the time. An automatic stop start skid on the wrong side of the road journey, it was great.
I arrive at my Motel (the best way I can describe it was like the one in the TV program “my name is earl”, but moved into the middle of the red light district of long beach. Because of the lateness of booking the trip this was one of the last places available and I can truly see why. But it was cleanish, and it had a bed I could lie in and it had running water most of the time.
I turn on my phone to see messages from two of my friends already here, so a quick change and down to the nicer part of town for a welcome drink. In the bar of the Westin I meet Stephen and the clover guys and my new best friend, Klaus Thomsen, soon join us. I really like Klaus, it would be so easy to be turn into an egomaniac after winning the WBC but he’s just a really nice welcoming guy, he hardly knows me, but I felt so comfortable in his company. Any how I beg some Dollars from Stephen as my credit card company think someone’s running across the west coast with my credit card details, they are right its me but they put a block on it any way. I’m in a foreign country with no money, again great plans.
Real Day 1
My big day, I cant tell you too much as that would be unprofessional to share the contents of a meeting, but this is my first board meeting as a member of the board of directors for the alliance for coffee excellence (the cup of excellence owners). I’m suited and booted (I’m told there is even some photographic evidence of me in a shirt and tie somewhere), my feet end up hurting from 11 hours in a pair of shoes and I have battle scares in the form of blisters. One thing I can share is I’ve been charged with Andreas from Norway to head the Membership committee, and find way to gain more members. So if you have any ideas share away.
I rush out of the meting at 7pm knowing I am 20 blocks away from my hotel and a bus to catch at 8pm to the intelligentsia party, one of the highlights of the trip I’m looking forward too. I make it just about and it’s a fantastic event really put together well. Instead of me telling you I’ll show you some pictuires at the link below, fun times.
One thing I must add is how much I loved the 49th Parallel guys, Barrett you rock even though we turned up in the same England shirt and Linsey was lovely so knowledgeable and interesting to talk to.
One thing the photos wont tell you about is myself and Gary McGann from Espresso Warehouse in Glasgow missing the last bus home and being saved by Steve Ford from Ecco café and his friend who drove us the hour long journey back to long beach, British on tour can not be trusted.
Day 2 or is it three or something I don’t know
I’m very laggy, more so than ever before, 8 hours is a lot to deal with I haven’t eaten as I don’t know when I should eat, my watch has stopped so I have no idea what time it is any way. I’m sleeping around 2 hours and then my body is saying get up.
I arrive at the hall 9am, with the intention of watching some US barista competition action, again something I’ve really looked forward too. Now some of this could be down to the lack of sleep food etc, but I hated the competition. It was very far away from the competitors there wasn’t a good view to be had of all of the stations and there was no atmosphere at all. I tried a number of times on the day and it just didn’t feel like the kind of place you could settle, as I say maybe it was just me.
I went to one of the educational sessions before the show floor opened called New wave, Third wave what wave (or something like that). Held by Sarah Allen of Barista Magazine, Chris Deferio of Carriage House Café, Kyle Larson of Stumptown Coffee Roasters, Matthew Riddle of Intelligentisia Coffee and the moma of third wave Trish R. Skeie of Zoka Coffee. I was astounded at the negativity held towards them at the start and how well and articulated these guys came out of it at the end. It was a great season.
The show floor is exactly what I expected, I don’t like trade shows I hated the SCAE last year. I slightly less hated this one as there were friends I could go bum some great coffee from, 49th coming through with some awesome COE coffee and a great E Café Ethiopian, but a number of good coffee around.
One of the reasons for me going to the show was to meet Joe Behmor who has made a new roaster called the Behmor 1600, there are a few threads around in net land ikf you search the term “Behmor 1600”. I must admit (and I told Joe this) that I never thought this product would see the light of day, but through Joe’s perseverance, and being very stubborn (his words not mine) he’s got it to a place where it is nearly ready for market. Don’t expect to see it in Europe until November but once we get our sample and can make it do the same as it did on Saturday then we hope to be able to work together. I think me and joe hit it off, and I really like his style, but I am very eager to get my hands on a 220-240v to see how it works here. It claims little to no smoke while roasting and I saw no smoke it claims to do roasts coffee in a profile time that’s acceptable. I saw him to half a pound in around 12 mins not including cooling and was told a pound is just a little longer (it has setting for ¼ of a pound ½ a lb and 1 lb). I have a sample from it to cup as soon as I get back to work tomorrow, and will let you know how it goes.
Some Photos below
After the show I had the chance to go party again, but I couldn’t I just wanted to sleep so that’s what I did, as flying back Sunday morning is not good when over tired particularly as back to the roaster straight away.
So it was a rushed trip with a lot crammed in and without any R & R either, which is never a good mix. But I got to meet some great people who have been inspirations to me for so long and some new ones who will be fresh inspiration. I got to achieve one of the greatest things in my working life being nominated onto the ACE board, and I got to go to one of the best party’s I’ve ever been too, every where I looked was a new friend or an old friend, stunning and special times.