World of Coffee 2023 Athens
World of Coffee review.
The atmosphere at WoC is electric. If you have ever been really passionate about something and you don’t always have the place to share it, well for the coffee world this is it. From coffee cuppings, and barista competitions to environmental and packaging seminars this is the festival.
I was lucky enough to meet up with some of our producers whom we have been working with for years. Some for the first time and some for the first time since Covid. Athens was a rare chance to really get a feeling of how life is in the broader coffee community. The coffee business is built on the shoulders of producers, and when they aren’t thriving, there is a problem. These grand shows are funded by all things expensive and shiny but are hollow if we don’t wake up, as the environment is changing at such a pace. Radical coffee change is happening in (some places) as little as 5 years time if we don’t act. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be any coffee, it means that “we” won’t be able to produce all of the same coffees that we do now, to the current standard, if things don’t change. This is a broader discussion as some countries like Rwanda are supposed to still be producing their best coffees over the next 4-5 decades according to an ICO (International Coffee Institute) paper.
One of the most fantastic things, in Athens was meeting other roasters who came with similar questions to mine. Young baristas, less than 2 years into the business with an amazing ability to articulate and share flavour and processing than I have seen in a very long time. Inspiring. It is just a wonderful thing. Talking with fellow roasters in this neutral environment is healthy too. For many of us, The World of Coffee is an environment where you can just strike up a conversation with anyone. Even for an introvert like me, I found myself just talking to strangers and the only thing that enabled me to start the conversation was this one thing we had in common, and for the record, it was coffee.
Overall I learned a lot, reconnected with some old friends, and realised that I am the old guy at the party now. I am fine with that, as long as I am still welcome!