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Re;co: Regarding coffee

From the January 2015 issue.

Re:co is taking place from 15 ā€“ 16 June 2015 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

It’s been five years since a few hundred people gathered in a room for the first Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) Symposium.

Peter Giuliano, now Senior Director of Symposium for the SCAA, remembers well the thought process that was driving that first event.

More than just hosting “another conference” Giuliano was keen to put something on that really set it apart, fulfilling a vision of driving change in the specialty coffee community.

“Coffee conferences have been around for a long time. At a certain level, they’ve been about just what’s going on now, and an overview of the basics. They weren’t so much about spurring innovation and long-term thinking,” he says. “We took it pretty seriously. We really wanted to be an agent for change.”

Six symposiums later, Giuliano seems to have found a formula for success. The SCAA Symposiums regularly sell outs, as one of the most widely attended and respected coffee conferences on the planet.

So when World Coffee Event (WCE), the company founded by the SCAA and Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) that oversees the World Barista Championships among other events, was looking for help in launching its own global brand of symposiums, it made sense to turn to Giuliano for advice The result is Re:co (Regarding Coffee) a new event set to make its debut in Gothenburg, Sweden this June.

Giuliano says the Re:co brand will embody the format that has helped make SCAA so successful, featuring a line-up of 18-minute talks inspiring people to “think differently”. It’s no coincidence that this format mirrors the globally successful TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Talks, the group that popularised the 18-minute format. Giuliano has been involved with the TED organisation since they approached him a few years ago to provide coffee service for its event.

Giuliano admits he’s taken inspiration from TED, as well as various other ideas conferences, to inject energy into the SCAA Symposium. He’s now looking forward to  working with WCE to spread that energy via the first Re:co event.

The content of this first event will be set by James Hoffmann, the head of London’s iconic Square Mile Coffee Roasters and a former World Barista Champion. Hoffmann is no stranger to the symposium stage as a past speaker, and has worked regularly for the past few years with Giuliano on lining up content for the SCAA Symposiums.

Hoffmann says that it’s a natural move for Re:co Gothenburg to take on lessons learned from Giuliano’s experience and SCAA’s success.

“The SCAA is very successful, we would be fools if we didn’t take advantage of that,” says Hoffmann.

Re:co Gothenburg will be an event catered to the challenges of the regional European market. “The European community is not very coherent across borders,” says Hoffmann. “There is a diversity of coffee cultures, languages and styles. It’s what makes the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) so necessary.”

Hoffmann explains how until recently, Italian espresso was the main specialty in Europe. Then, in the past five to 10 years, “out of nowhere” Hoffmann has witnessed an explosion of coffee culture.

“We don’t really talk about Third Wave coffee culture here. We have cities with 400 years of coffee drinking cultures, you can’t really break it down to two to three waves,” he says.

The challenge now for Hoffman and Giuliano will be to bring all these cultures together, and see what they can learn from and about each other. It’s a challenge Hoffmann says he’s up for.

“The point of the symposium is about bringing people together, sharing their ideas and generating some discussion,” he says.

With all of this context to take into account, Hoffmann says it makes sense to start off the first European Re:co by trying to define what specialty coffee is in the continent. 

“We can’t really define where we’re going if we can’t define who we are,” he says. “The first part of the event will be all about understanding where we’re at in the market.” 

GCR Magazine is proud to be the premier media partner to Re:co, taking place from 15 – 16 June 2015 in Gothenburg, Sweden. For details see recosymposium.org

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