The mail today included a plea from Coffee Fest, the coffee industry’s self-proclaimed “top retail show,” instructing members of the Specialty Coffee Association of America to express concerns with the association’s consideration to relocate its annual convention to Seattle for 6 out of 8 years annually beginning in 2014.

“While Coffee Fest certainly doesn’t own Seattle, we do object to the SCAA’s plan to all but permanently relocate here,” gripes founder Alan Silverman. “We believe that the SCAA locating in Seattle for a minimum of six shows in eight years will irreparably harm Coffee Fest.”

Coffee Fest also believes that many Pacific Northwest and all non-Pacific Northwest businesses will (or rather, should) object to the move for the following reasons:

  • Most of the SCAA membership is in California.
  • Seattle seems convenient to California if you ask me, furthermore it is reasonably accessible and inexpensive city for other U.S. visitors and many international origins

  • Coffee Fest also has an annual show in Seattle, so that would be too many annual shows in Seattle.
  • The weaker show will fail, no problem there

  • You would see all of same people at Coffee Fest that you do at SCAA.
  • we don’t already?

  • There is no fee to use the Washington State Convention Center
  • wow, I didn’t know that! …sounds like a good move for the SCAA, how is this a drawback?

  • …and one other point about the SCAA losing membership dues that makes even less sense than the last one.
  • (???)

After years of aggressively shadowing/copying the annual SCAA conference with a similar format, lectures, workshops, competitions (even a hastily organized facsimile of last year’s SCAA symposium series… you thought we would forget?), the privately owned and for-profit Coffee Fest now wants you (the SCAA member) to help them protect their most popular and likely profitable show from the competition threatened by… well, you. No such concerns were raised by the member-driven SCAA when Coffee Fest transformed itself from a local consumer coffee tasting event to industry-focused event.

Coffee Fest should innovate, improve and create new value for its attendees, exhibitors and sponsors and have nothing to fear. All parties are in favor of Coffee Fest succeeding to find new and untapped markets beyond SCAA’s reach to improve the visibility of our retail industry. Complaints about the difficulty of fair competition will not win sympathy from business owners who must overcome those same challenges and more each day.

I was not familiar with the SCAA’s plans to frequent Seattle in future conference years, but if indeed true, it sounds like a good idea. Seattle is a great town and the SCAA board has my support.