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Coffee at Slow Food Nation, Part 1

Let the eating and drinking commence! At least, I hope I’m correct in saying that Slow Food Nation has begun. This event, which promises to be the “largest celebration of food in America” has so many disparate pieces that getting a bird’s eye view is proving difficult. When you add the unofficial list of pre- and post- activities, it’s likely that festivities began sometime last April. In trying to learn more about what is and isn’t going on, the Slow Food Nation website is a good place to start, but this guide by the Chronicle provides some meta-level analysis that might also be informative.

What’s most exciting to me, however, is the fact that this will likely be one of the biggest celebrations of coffee in America. It may not best the annual Specialty Coffee Association of America’s annual conference and US Barista championship (oh, and next year’s World Barista Championship in Atlanta), but those events are largely for professionals. Slow Food Nation is decidedly consumer oriented, providing tremendous opportunities for the average joe to taste, learn and appreciate some of the best coffees going.

The center stage event has got to be the coffee tasting pavilion (an early peek here at the larger pavilion space) which will be curated by Andrew Barnett of Ecco Caffe, Eileen Hassi of Ritual Roasters and Tony Konecny of Tonx.org. The pavilion will consist of coffees from at least 10 of the country’s top roasters prepared on some of the country’s top coffee equipment by some of the country’s top coffee talent. The goal is to educate participants about coffee by providing them with ample opportunities to taste various high quality coffees prepared in different ways and to hear about the production of coffee from people actually producing it. (Be sure to check out the Ritual and Tonx links above for further details on the coffee pavilion).

Other events include: a coffee and chocolate paring, the coffee portion headed up by James Freeman (of Blue Bottle); a chance to cup coffee with the producers of the coffee being cupped; a discussion between Peter Giuliano of Counter Culture Coffee and a handful of coffee producers; a coffee dinner at Coffee Bar; and Blue Bottle’s cart at the slow-on-the-go market.

The bad news is that pretty much everything is sold out. The good news (or possibly bad news, depending upon your tolerance for this sort of thing) is that the copious quantities of caffeine to be consumed at this event combined with the Bay Area’s disproportionately large population of coffee bloggers is likely to result in considerable amount of coffee coverage. The Shot, for example, promises some detailed and witty discussion and I’m hoping to find some humorous coverage with an out-of-town perspective on Twitchy.org. There will certainly be others as well. Of course, there’s also the potential for some interesting/amusing coverage coming our way from the mainstream press. I’ll be keeping my eyes on the press and attending the tasting pavilion (and possibly a couple of other events as well). So stay tuned. Part 2 is coming soon.

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