Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco. Me, I left my voice in Seattle.

Too much: walking in the rain, chatting ’til all hours. Not enough: sleep, food. Did I mention sleep? The result: laryngitis. A few days of down-time. Dozing in the La-Z-boy while Spring showers drum on the roof here in Vermont… and trying to collect my thoughts on the latter days of the SCCA show. Forgive me if I lapse into stream-of-consciousness mode for a bit, but — as you’ll see — streams both literal and figurative will play an integral role in the day.

Finally found my way to the exhibition floor. Stopped by the Zojirushi booth and had a very nice conversation with Tatsu Yamisake about their Fresh Brew home coffee maker. Told him a dozen things I liked about it, and my one significant nit… that bothersome path the stream of hot water takes through the reservoir on its way to the brew-head. We discussed alternatives, but it comes down to an air gap of some sort. Hey, these folks have been doing vacuum insulated things for a very long time… they’ll sort it out. [Laryngitis in Japanese: ???]

Significant things afoot on the home-roaster / micro-roaster front, including tiny, scaled-down drum-roasters from Diedrich and Probat. Either would make a lovely gift for the coffee-roaster in your life.

Far too much to report on the espresso front… The tricked-out two-group Synesso in the Barista Guild booth was sweeeet, ‘specially loved the insulated steam wands. Enjoyed a conversation with Kees Van der Westen and a hands-on tour of the Mirage Duette. Love the foot-switch operated steam. And the Versalab folks are upping the geek factor with their suite of “reference” gear, and doubly so with their new M3 grinder. I know of two alties who placed orders on the show floor… don’t think I’ve seen that before. I still don’t understand why the guy operating the M3 espresso machine was pulling 3 to 4 ounce doubles… though even at that volume they were creamy shots.

Briefly noted…

  • Best booth: Espresso Parts
  • Best new product: Espressocraft tamper
  • Best brewed coffee: Leopard Forest’s Zimbabwe AA+ was stunning
  • Best espresso: Tied between Jay Caragay’s espresso macchiato at Hines’ and Jennifer Prince’s version in the BGA booth [a perfect rosette in a 2 ounce paper cup!!]
  • Thing I never thought I’d see, Part I: Dr. John of Josuma pulling doubles with a naked portafilter
  • Thing I never thought I’d see, Part II: Ben Cohen [of Ben&Jerry’s] scoopin’ Fair Trade ice-cream. Naked. Er, shirtless. Well, for a moment or two, anyway.
  • Thing(s) I never want to see again: powdered coffee products of all sorts, instant cappuccino machines, and their ilk. Why are they here? Really, I’d prefer Ben naked again.
  • Things I didn’t get to see at all: the WBC. Dammit.

The floor tour was pleasantly interrupted with a Zen & Coffee session, once again featuring Rev. Frank Jude Boccio. A timely reminder to be in the present… something that I frequently need reminding of.

And after the show, the C-Member reception [see Fortune toss coffee.] And after that, the Roaster’s Guild reception. And after that, the Transfair Reception. Here things get really interesting.

The reception is held at the Seattle Art Museum [SAM to Seattleites] which is hosting a roving exhibition of Chinese photography and video, in addition to some of their more permanent, dynastical collections. [Laryngitis in Chinese: ???].

Begin stream of consciousness diversion…

The collection contains some stunning images… one photo set featured a man repeatedly striking a large, carved wooden stamp upon the surface of a river. It was a vivid, focused reminder of a tale I’ve heard told and retold, of Tibetan monks printing words on water. Since I first heard the story, it’s impressed me as an artful metaphor for the ephemeral quality of the web… what I happen to do for a living.

End stream of consciousness diversion.

So at the Transfair reception, Ben Cohen [remember the shirt trick, above?] announces [seen here under the benevolent gaze of a Quing Dynasty citizen soldier… and no snarking, it’s a cell-phone photo] that having been inspired and emboldened by their successes with Fair Trade coffee in their ice-cream, Ben & Jerry’s will be pursuing Fair Trade chocolate and vanilla as well. [Gasp. This is not a small undertaking.]

Very nice. Very nice, indeed.

And after that, the Experience Music Project event, which was honestly too cool for words.

Favorite exchange of the evening…

Me: Woah! Looks like this place was built by Frank Gehry.
She: No… it was built by Paul Allen.
Me: [blink]

Latin music. Beetles. Dylan. See, you just had to be there. And after that, walking 7 blocks up Capital Hill to a little club off an alley…

Come to think of it, it’s little wonder I got sick, eventually.

Just another lesson, I suppose, to remain in the present… this too, is ephemeral and will pass away.

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