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Marketing Coffee – Brandnetic at The Specialty Coffee Expo

Last week, we found ourselves on a caffeine-fueled road trip to Seattle to attend the Specialty Coffee Association’s Global Expo. Brandnetic has always had a deep connection to coffee, and marketing coffee; our roster of clients include for roasters and cafes across western Canada.

Those that know us know our passion for coffee is immeasurable. This was our holy grail. As much as we love coffee there’s nothing quite like being surrounded by 10,000 other coffee enthusiasts. We found ourselves meeting people from every walk of life related to the coffee industry – from farmers and importers to baristas and café owners. The enthusiasm was contagious to say the least.

Staying on top of trends is vital to our business, and coffee is no different. Our clients expect us to be experts, and attending expos like this allows us to immerse ourselves in the culture and identify any shifts in consumer thinking, and keep our finger on the pulse of the coffee industry.

Love to Learn

Prior to the trade show was a two day symposium called Re:Co (which stands for “regarding coffee.”). Re:Co is an educational and networking event held in the days leading up to the show. Speakers covering a wide variety of topics related to the coffee industry are given a larger stage to impart their knowledge. This year’s symposium had a couple of underlying themes; one revolved around sustainability, with some insight into factors affecting production and innovative ways to address climate challenges.

The other topic that really excited us was sensory experiences – something to stimulate the senses, promote discussion, and open up the world of possibilities.

The Swiss Water Sensory Experience at Re:co featured many interactive activities including a coffee and whiskey comparison, tasting new hybrid varietals and a mind-bending exercise that involved a bitterness and sweetness blocker that altered one’s expectations.

Blind Taste Test

The standout session was a blind taste test – complete with blindfold – given by Dr. Henry “Hoby” Wedler from UC Davis. Blind since birth, Hoby’s talk centered on his research into sensory perception in the wine industry and how one’s perceptions changed based on context and sensory inputs. It was exciting to engage the senses in new and meaningful ways, and we look forward to incorporating those lessons in the future.

Last, but not least, George Howell designed an experience in conjunction with a talk given by Dr. Christopher Hendon which involved previously frozen green coffee. Yes frozen coffee! We tasted delicious vintages from 2012 and 2013. It was a compelling talk with a lot of science – and laughs.

During the Salon sessions on the second day we had the opportunity to chat with both Chris and Hoby individually. Being able to chat one on one or in small groups with speakers was such a wonderful, warm experience. We really enjoyed the intimate conversations that came out of these.

For two days we were treated to some of the best coffee available, meeting interesting people from around the world along with thoughtful conversations . We couldn’t have asked for a better start to the Specialty Coffee Expo.

See you next year!

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