When I first starting posting in 2006, incorporating a blog into a corporate Website was pretty cutting edge. After publishing about three to five entries a month and covering just about every subject that crossed my path and mind for four years, I have become bored with the format and its limitations — so this will be the final blog I will post on espresso101.com. Watch this spot for a link to Bellissimo’s and my new blog.
It was fun to go back and read some of the old entries… many made me smile. Others were sad, especially the ones regarding the passing of both Ward Barbee and Dr. Illy. But in reality, my blogs were merely thoughts in a point in time and a way to reach out and communicate. I am excited to make this my last blog here and move to a format that will incorporate more real time posting and imagery.
A week from today I will be in the air heading for Morocco — Casablanca and Fez. Stay tuned for updates from the Marrakesh Express.
Five days ago we ushered in not only a new year, but also a new decade. When I think back to the turn of the century, we were facing Y2K and I remember returning from Africa in mid-December, finishing a year of extensive and exhausting travel — close to 150,000 miles. I have read about those who travel for weeks on end, and know it seems impressive and glamorous, but in reality, since I have been there and done that — for me, "not so much". I am quite happy with three to five International trips a year.
A lot has happened in the past ten years. The American Barista & Coffee School was born in 2004 and in the past six years has graduated over 700 students! Bellissimo, which was based in Eugene, Oregon for more than ten years, moved its offices and operation to Portland in 2006 — and we’ve never looked back. All of us love Portland — a city we consider the hotbed of the 4th wave of specialty coffee. We continue to work to improve ABC's by adding new classes and training opportunities for groups and large companies in what may be the best coffee-related learning environment in the U.S. We have three such trainings scheduled in the first quarter alone.
Twenty-ten will be a year of change and challenge, but most of all success, as Bellissimo continues to set the bar for excellence.
Matt just returned from an invitation only, all expenses paid, conference in San Jose where the nation’s top web designers got together to share knowledge and plan for the future. In addition to this honor and opportunity, Matt's Barista Exchange website also garnered him recognition earlier in the year from National Public Radio and the Wall Street Journal.
We have a busy day or two ahead of us, and a sold out class is arriving at ABC’s bright and early Monday morning. We will have students from Canada and Ecuador, and a number of other participants from outside the U.S. As a result, Matt and I only have two days together in the "office" before I leave for Arizona at the end of next week. Yikes… lots to accomplish before the holidays.
For me, 2009 was a fulfilling and wonderful year of coffee-related travel that took me to Russia, Alaska, Beijing, China, Nicaragua and Brazil. In February of 2010, I will travel to the Middle East and Morocco on consulting assignments. I am fortunate that my job allows me to travel to so many amazing and vastly different parts of the world.
In early 2010, I will announce other special projects that will further the distance between ABC's and other coffee schools in the country, even though right now we are positive that any student who compares our program to any other sees that at ABC’s he or she will receive a coffee PHD, not the high school diploma bestowed by other coffee schools. Quality, responsible, and, most of all, "honest," practices will always win out in both life and in business.
No rain so far in Portland this December — just beautiful, cold sunny days. The city is very much in a holiday spirit, and while I’m enjoying the festivities, I’ll soon need to switch gears and get ready for a Christmas with palm trees. It will be nice to experience the holidays in Arizona, with cactus and cowboy boot ornaments hanging off the Christmas tree. Mix that with warm days, fun nights and the Oregon Ducks in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, and you have a recipe for a great Christmas.
Life is certainly good, and I am thankful for all the wonderful, positive and gigantic changes that have taken place this year at Bellissimo — stay tuned for even greater change in 2010.
None of this could be possible without our "team"; after all, our staff is Bellissimo. Their dedication and positive attitudes are what make it all happen.
I've just returned from Brazil and the experience was wonderful as usual - the weather was hot and it was an honor to speak at Encafe and a pleasure, of course, to spend time in Bahia...so beautiful.
But now I'm back in Oregon and the news is:
The technical problem that prevented me from uploading my blog has been solved.
Our office has been going crazy this week, and I have numerous meetings to attend and work to catch up on after two weeks of travel. I do hope that says something about the entire U.S. economy and the health of other coffee companies.
The Bellissimo staff is back in full force —Danielle and Kris have returned from visiting family in Iowa and Minnesota, respectively.
But most important of all, my beloved Oregon Ducks play the Oregon State Beavers tonight on national television for the honor of representing the Pac 10 in the Rose Bowl. Now that is something really important to blog about — GO DUCKS! Love that team!
I am off to Bahia, Brazil today. For years I have wanted to go there, and, as luck would have it, out of the blue a few months ago a contingency of Brazilian coffee people visited our offices and asked me to speak at their conference (ENCAFE) — in Bahia!
It is an honor to be speaking twice at a conference in the country where most of the world’s coffee is grown. It will be my second trip to Brazil — previously I was there for three weeks when we filmed the Passionate Harvest. When I think of the many countries I have had the opportunity to visit, Brazil is in my top three favorites, not far behind Italy.
Matt is back from Vanuatu, and last evening I saw his photos of this South Pacific paradise. He will be writing articles about his journey for two different magazines, and I’m sure he will post a report on Facebook soon.
Travel, which seems to be a frequent subject of this blog, will end for me from an international standpoint with this trip. A long holiday trip to Arizona at the end of December will be the last of my 2009 journeys. I have penciled in a lot of trips for 2010, which I will need to fit into an already crammed Bellissimo schedule.
As usual, there is a lot going on in this crazy world we call coffee. I am not sure how the planets are aligned (or even if that makes a difference), but something has happened in our offices... similar to a dam breaking. Believe me, I’m not complaining about the flood. I hope it means we are doing something right, rather than that the world has just gone insane. Nonetheless, in this economy, out-of-control-rushing water is a very good problem to have.
On other fronts, Matt leaves Saturday for Vanuatu, where he will be a judge in the country’s national barista championship. In addition to enjoying events surrounding the competition, he and his wife, Kylene, will certainly love Vanuatu, a place that most people (including me) would have to characterize as paradise.
I leave for Brazil soon, which seems a bit boring by comparison, but maybe not, considering I’m going to a part of the country that I have always dreamed of experiencing — Bahia. I speak twice at a conference (Encafe) and then will visit some friends on their fincas. I return to Portland Thanksgiving weekend.
This coming weekend, Bellissimo (among other coffee notables) will be taking part in “Coffee Fair” at the World Forestry Discover Museum in Portland. “Coffee Fair” is a special weekend being held in conjunction with a three-month traveling exhibition called “Coffee: The World in Your Cup,” which runs from October 17, 2009 - January 10, 2010. The exhibit originated at the Burke Museum in Seattle.
Did someone say that the big event in November was Thanksgiving? Well we at Bellissimo are giving thanks today!
We are a bit beyond the midway point of this week’s sold-out class at ABC's. Once more, we have a great group of people eager to learn every aspect of coffee and retail.
This morning representatives of the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum visited our offices to discuss Bellissimo’s/ABC’s participation in events being held in conjunction with their current exhibit, Coffee: The World in Your Cup, which runs from October 17, 2009 - January 10, 2010.
The exhibition explores the journey of coffee from farm to cup, and the hidden stories behind one of the world's most widely traded commodities. The exhibition investigates how coffee affects cultures, economies, and environments around the world. Engaging maps, photos, text, selected artifacts, and audiovisual presentations illuminate the fascinating world of stories behind the coffee we drink and will enable visitors to become informed consumers. The exhibition originated at the Burke Museum in Seattle, Washington.
Bellissimo’s Passionate Harvest will be shown twice on Saturdays during Coffee Break Weekends, which will be held 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. each weekend of the exhibition. Coffee Break Weekend includes samples, presentations, demonstrations, cuppings and traditional coffee ceremonies from around the world.
Bellissimo/ABC’s will participate in Coffee Fair, November 7-8, which is a special weekend event that brings the Pacific Northwest’s most notable coffee professionals to attendee’s fingertips. Bellissimo and ABC’s will have a booth at the event to answer any questions consumers may have about coffee and will also conduct classes on home brewing methods.
The World Forestry Center is located at 4033 SW Canyon Rd, adjacent to the Portland Zoo. Click here for more information about the exhibit.
I returned from Nicaragua last week to stacks of mail, and, of course, new projects that will keep us busy until the end of the year and well beyond. It’s too early to divulge details, but by the first of the year, expect to see a flurry of press surrounding the exciting happenings at Bellissimo and ABC’s. Let’s put it this way: Recession equals innovation, and we’ve been innovating like mad. Bottom line: All of us have been running very fast on dozens of new projects.
On another note, Matt will be in Vanuatu in November judging at Barista Vanuatu 2009 and I’m off to Mexico before heading to Brazil to give a lecture at Encafe. I had to turn down a speaking engagement at Fiero Milano, which was difficult, but I need to be in the office to oversee the development of our new projects.
I returned from Nicaragua late last night — just in time to celebrate my birthday today. I awoke to a beautiful fall day, and the weather is predicted to be in the low 70s all week. That alone is a great present.
Milestones are often a time of reflection and a chance to take stock of your life. The build up to my birthday was spent in Nicaragua with the Let’s Talk Coffee professionals from Sustainable Harvest, which supplied even more fodder for contemplation.
Every aspect of the entire coffee chain was present at the conference, including hundreds of growers, middlemen, roasters and buyers from around the world. The event even attracted world champion caliber baristas — the only missing link was the consumer, the people that in the end appreciate all the hard work that goes into that cup of coffee they drink each day.
It was a trip I truly will never forget and in this very special moment of reflection I am reminded how truly blessed I am to be part of the beautiful extended coffee family that encompasses the globe. Not only am I thankful for the coffee part of this life — and knowing the differences I can make — but also for the chance to grow and find happiness.
A lot is happening at Bellissimo. The staff returned yesterday evening from Seattle after a very successful Coffee Fest show. The trade show drew a good crowd and the attitude was very positive. The best part of the show for me, as usual, is meeting up with some of my closest friends in the world. I get a little sad when I think I will not see many in my extended coffee family until next spring.
On Friday, the International Institute of Coffee Tasters (IIAC), in collaboration with Caffe Umbria, will be holding an Espresso Italiano Tasting Course at ABC's. The course will be taught by Carlo Odello, trainer, board member and the Director of Communication for the IIAC. Mr. Odello is also the Communications Manager for the Italian Espresso National Institute and a board member of the Taster Study Center, the most advanced Italian company in sensory analysis. In this intensive full-day course, you will learn how to distinguish a good espresso from a poor one and how to get a precise sensory profile of the cup in front of you. Click here for more information and to register.
Next week we have yet another corporate training session scheduled at ABC’s. I received a text message on the trade show floor last Friday that said the final slot in the October five-day business and barista class October had just been taken — ABC’s is sold out yet again. We are scheduling a few guest speakers for the November ABC’s class, so if you are thinking of attending, register as early as you can. Our one-day consumer class on October 30 is also filling fast.
As I mentioned in my last blog, tomorrow I am headed to Nicaragua for a week to speak at “Let’s Talk Coffee,” a conference sponsored by Sustainable Harvest. I know this trip will be an amazing experience on so many different levels.
Fall weather has finally arrived in Portland and I love the crisp air. Students for the September ABC’s class will arrive this Thursday — school starts on Friday to allow them a full day to explore the many independent cafes in Portland before heading up to Coffee Fest in Seattle next Thursday. ABC’s sold out again this month, and I am looking forward to teaching the business training the first day.
Then things get a bit crazy. Two days after Coffee Fest Seattle (come visit us in booth 714), I fly to Let's Talk Coffee in Nicaragua. I considered it quite an honor when David Griswold of Sustainable Harvest (the host) asked me to speak at the event. This year Let’s Talk Coffee is being held at a beautiful resort — Barcelo' Montelimar Beach. The resort’s website boasts that it’s the perfect spot to relax and soak up the sun on fine white sands. Over the course of my stay (in addition to some beach time), there will be numerous networking opportunities and workshops to attend. Hasta la vista!
It is so nice to be back in the office after spending nine days in China for the opening of the China Barista Coffee School (CBC). The CBC is the first international affiliate of the American Barista & Coffee School, and the principals of CBC made five trips to the United States over a period of eight months to meet with us and make this school a reality.
We found China absolutely fascinating and our host partners could not have been more wonderful. Our week in Beijing was a full one — we needed to tweak the ABC’s curriculum to fit the particular needs of the Chinese, while making sure the concept fit the ABC's model. Their training room is extremely serious, with more than ten two-group espresso machines, each from a different manufacturer. This was the first of many trips we will make to China to insure their trainers are properly trained.
Stay tuned for other news in the coming months for more exciting news of ABC's expansion both here and abroad.
Bruce Milletto is president of Bellissimo Coffee InfoGroup and founder of the American Barista & Coffee School.