Coffee Fest Show is the first client I landed for Chalkboarder, a
company I founded early in 2009, that provides social media strategies and other services. The following is an Open Letter to members of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, distributed by Chalkboarder on behalf of our valued client, Coffee Fest.
~~ Jeffrey J Kingman, CEO, Chalkboarder


Open Letter to SCAA Members from Coffee Fest Founder Alan

Dear SCAA member,

Hopefully you recognize the name, Coffee Fest, the specialty coffee industry’s top retail trade show, consistently providing retailers with relevant information and new products to hone their business skills and up their bottom line.

I am writing to you today to ask you to consider the decisions the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) is making in servicing you and the specialty coffee industry across America as a whole. The management of SCAA is vigorously negotiating with the city of Seattle to produce the SCAA annual convention for six out of eight years in Seattle beginning in 2014.

We support the SCAA on the many good things they do for the industry and we have worked closely with them for all our years in business. We never have and never will encroach on the region in which they produce their annual show. If the SCAA came to Seattle once every 5 years, we would have no concerns. Coffee Fest has been produced in Seattle on an annual basis since 1992, for nineteen years. While Coffee Fest certainly doesn’t own Seattle, we do object to the SCAA’s plan to all but permanently locate here and expect that given the details and facts, you may object too.

Read more here on Coffee Fest's Slideshare document sharing site
. After consultation with Matt Milletto, owner of Barista Exchange, the decision was made that there is positive input to be discovered from all those interested in this matter. Please discuss with good humor :) Jeffrey

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In my mind...
Coffee Fest is a business first...and it's business is mainly to help our business to be showcased.

The SCAA however is firstly an association made up of businesses that has become more of a business in and of itself. That, it seems, is not necessarily the priority for an organization who's main point is the fruition of all member businesses. The point that Jay brings up about the apparent lopsided locations on the west coast or even PNW would be all well and good for Coffee Fest because they ARE a business. But for the SCAA it seems that it guides the assoc. further from being helpful or beneficial to its membership and closer to being helpful and beneficial to itself.
Taking the opportunity to have a TRUE balance of locations means thinking first of the membership and second of the viability. It may mean blazing a trail in a location that helps coffee in host area but makes it necessary to eat the cost of a less "successful" show. Just like the initial leg work in the business of opening a coffee bar...the sacrifice of having a less than ideal but more accessible show may not show itself to be profitable right off the bat but the principle of the thing will lead to a more sustainable membership and a more loyal one.
I do not have intimate knowledge of the assoc. or of what an immense task the running of it must be. Nothing but respect to Peter and every other hard working leader there.
Just sharing some thoughts.

Jared Rutledge said:
now this thread is just encouraging me to avoid both shows. it doesn't seem like anyone has their facts straight, and there isn't much transparency.
if i ran my business like this thread, i'd be bankrupt.
Deferio said:
Nothing but respect to Peter and every other hard working leader there.
Just sharing some thoughts. Blessings. -Chris

Shouldn't be necessary, but just to be perfectly clear, Peter G. was not in any of the conversations/emails/post exchanges I had with the SCAA regarding Pittsburgh. That all pre-dated his involvement with the BoD. Peter's never been anything but straight with me personally and I continue to hold him the highest regard.
I think Deferio makes an awesome point about the SCAA being obliged to serve its membership where its membership lives...And I think it needs to be more than just SBWs.

But IF, for argument's sake, both events are dedicated to the PNW then how about approaching Portland or Vancouver? I'm sure both those cities offer similar amenities for similar costs and I'm also sure both cities would LOVE to highlight their particular brands of the coffee industry. And I seriously doubt that attendance would suffer for either event. To wit: a show in Portland would probably attract more borderline attendees who would pay for a flight and hotel to somewhere similar to but distinct from Seattle. Many could argue that Vancouver and Portland have as strong or even stronger Coffee Pedigrees than Seattle.

Yeah, just thought I'd muddy the water. Here's to excellent organization wherever the events end up.

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