so i’ve died and gone to coffee heaven.
a conference called MANE held up in Pawtucket Rhode Island. it’s the most grass roots incredible gathering of coffee professionals i’ve ever seen. it was 3 days of classes, lectures, and one on one chats with some of the most highly respected people in coffee. it was held at new harvest coffee roasters (who are awesome, by the way) and hosted by a bunch of different coffee companies like royal, curtis, and dallis.
we started off the discussions with a chat about dark roasted vs. light roasted coffees, had a lecture about finding your niche from the incredible james hoffman, took a class on how to make a consistent chemex, on how to batch brew on a curtis, on the importance of micro-lot coffees, a round table discussion on origin with some roasters, growers, and importers, and last but not least on the trends in the retail coffee world.
the two that i took the most away from was the discussion with the growers and importers and the retail discussion. the growers discussion was fascinating because although i understood a lot about direct trade, the benefits, and difficulties with the system, this discussion helped clarify and really highlighted the importance of direct relationships with farmers. it also stressed the fact that we need to be able to charge more for coffee in order to pay fair prices to not only the growers, but the mills and importers. it’s a long process for coffee to get from origin to a place like the NY, and considering the amount of time and labor that is invested into the process, it’s a relatively cheap commodity. it was also fascinating just chatting to and listening to the grower talk about how his farm and income has changed since he started working with roasters directly and working with the cup of excellence program.
the other one that was incredible was the retail concepts discussion. we talked about what makes a “well-designed” shop, what makes good customer flow, how to discourage laptop use without having to put up passive aggressive signage, how variety of seating encourages different customer usage and ease of use. we also discussed how to encourage bagged coffee sales and how to improve customer service by expediting orders but still giving an incredible product to the customer. it was an amazing discussion, again, with some of the best minds in coffee.
last but not least were the latte art throw downs, the beer drinking, and general shmoozing. this was a great conference all around. incredibly well managed and organized with an amazing line-up of speakers, teachers, and classes. i’m so happy i made it and met a bunch of great people.