A World of Coffee in Vienna
This year, Guestaurant sent ace writer and curator of the Vienna food blog ‘Sushi and Strudel’, Kristen to cover 2012 World of Coffee in Vienna. A Southern Californian who has been living in Vienna since 2008, Kristen is always looking forward to exploring a new corner of the city (and beyond), hoping to find something delicious at the destination.
Totally buzzed. This is how I felt after attending the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe’s (SCAE) 2012 World of Coffee, a venti-sized event that saw thousands of coffee producers, aficionados, and industry insiders from all over the world descend upon Vienna, Austria for three days of exhibition, competition, education, and fun.
Held in the Messe Wien Exhibition and Congress Center, the caffeinated extravaganza had this newly built and spacious convention venue, located in Vienna’s second district, smelling like an intimate coffee roastery with rich aromas wafting in every direction.
Vienna was indeed a fitting selection for such an event, as this regal Central European city claims to have had the first coffee houses in Europe, thanks to the Ottoman Turks who brought over the beans along with their 17th century siege. This is a city that is deeply connected to the drink, with historical cafes that famed writers, thinkers, and artists used as their daily stomping grounds. Today, coffee here is most commonly enjoyed in the form of a Wiener Melange, which is coffee with steamed milk and foam, similar to a cappuccino; it’s the quintessential start to a Viennese day and everyone’s favorite afternoon pick-me-up alongside a slice of Sacher cake.
But this convention, the biggest and premiere of its kind in Europe, was anything but a chance to sit back, newspaper in hand, and slowly sip away. Here, in order to absorb all on offer, attendees needed to take their coffee to go! The World of Coffee packed in four international championships including the legendary World Barista Championship, hundreds of vendors displaying the latest and greatest in coffee machines and accessories, the ‘Business of Coffee’ conference, a conference within a conference that looked at key developments within the industry and featured guest speakers from companies like Nespresso and Keurig, a coffee photography exhibition and contest, and a forum called ‘Tamper Tantrum” with talks from a panel of presenters with a live audience.
The World of Coffee was also all about education. Committed to a “never-ending pursuit of coffee quality,” its host the SCAE provides vocational training and also offers a Coffee Diploma Program with international opportunities. This expertise within the industry was on display at the event with twenty different professional coffee workshops, including one on how to open your own coffee shop. There was also the Brew Bar, which had a rotating circuit of baristas who happily exhibited different brewing techniques and methods to any passerby who, of course, was given the opportunity to taste the results. Here, I had the chance to meet Marty, a friendly barista from Square Mile Coffee out of London, who exhibited a manual pourover method using a the Hario V60 dripcone, which is a ceramic dripper that allows for individualization and complete control of each single cup of coffee. With the chance to customize everything from temperature to speed of pour, this technique results in a cup that fully brings out the flavor of the beans that made it. It’s also somewhat of a spectator sport; “there’s a theater to it,” Marty said.
When my visit came to an end, I left with something more than just a caffeine high. The coffee industry is one that is equal parts tradition and trend, and my time at the World of Coffee also gave me a newfound appreciation for both the talent and technique that go into making the daily Cup of Jo.
Photography by Kristen Riedrich
To read more great articles from Kristen, please visit her site here