Just sitting down to gather some thoughts and observations from the SCAA show in Houston. My trip was planned at the very last minute, so didn't see or do quite as much as I had in previous years, but I did see some stuff that I'd like to share.


Great as always to catch up with my bX friends (and meet some for the first time).


Here's what caught my attention:


1. Multi-colored LED and touchscreens everywhere! Seriously, anywhere a manufacturer could put an LED or touchpad it seemed like they did... whether it was the full-width strip and glass touchpads on the new UNIC, the lights on the Mythos grinder, the trim on the Rancillio Classe 9, etc. LOTS of iPod-esque graphical interfaces too. A mix of functional lighting and pure flash-factor.


2. Paul Yates (after sacking me for abut 5 yards!) practically dragged me over to see a nifty electric kettle with skinny s-curved pouring spout. I like this idea for home use, a lot... especially at the pretty reasonable price point they were talking. It's a new product for them (company name escapes me at present), but I think they got a great response. Looking forward to hearing what others thought about it.


3. The Rancilio temperature profiling system. It brings a multi-boiler system to their lineup, albeit in a slightly different way. If I recall correctly, it employs both heating elements and cold water mixing just prior to the group, allowing the user to select a flat, increasing, or decreasing temperature profile. Different settings and temps can be chosen for each group. Interesting stuff.


4. The Bunn Trifecta team has rolled out a site to help users find and share recipes and secrets for dialing in coffees. This seems like a good way to address what has surely been a challenge for new Trifecta users - figuring out what to do with all of those variables.


5. Scales on grinders. Both the team at Baratza and the team at Bunn now have weight-based dosing systems. Didn't stop to play, so hoping others can jump in here.


For other attendees, what caught your eye?

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There were a selection of new hot water towers, none that impressed me as much as Bunns. The one in particular that caught my attention was apparently a "prototype" and they are evaluating customer response. To which I told the rep, "customer response?? Here's my response...why was this not available a year or two ago?!"


What was so great about this Bunn hot water tower? 3 settings for variable temp control, either C or F, adjustable on the fly. Three portion control settings, in ounces..meh...also adjustable on the fly with a 3 gallon tank. Beat the new Fetco tower hands down and yet it's not available yet...c'mon Bunn. Totally out of touch with the demands of your customers. And yet you continue to pump money into super automatic espresso machine production?!


The other hotness that stuck out was a Strada Ep with built in digital scale in the drip tray, designed in conjunction with Marco. If you're not familiar with their Uber line, the scales are the same concept...all stainless and residual coffee drippings simply wipe off and there is a drain underneath the scale that the coffee can drain into. Really cool. To the Strada itself, pre-programmable pressure profile recipes and /or pressure control at each group along with temp adjust / stability at the group, on the fly. Love it. Much more useful in a boutique / progressive shop - especially one that would be able to work closely with a roaster who understood the machine and might be able to develop roast profiles to shine through on certain temp levels / pressure levels. Temp adjust was my favorite thing, though I don't think this was a new thing for them this year.



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