Making Coffee at TED Vancouver

Making Coffee at TED Vancouver
Alexandra Glass

Earlier in April I had the opportunity to spend a week in Vancouver working with La Marzocco and attendees at TED Vancouver 2018. I was able to spend 5 days with people from all over the world and teach them how to make espresso.

For those of you who may not know, TED is a nonpartisan nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas in the form of short, powerful talks. TED first began in 1984 as a conference that focused on Technology, Entertainment and Design. The focus now is much broader and can range from science to art and global issues.

La Marzocco was founded in 1927 in Florence and specializes in producing high-end coffee machines for both professional and home enthusiasts. At TED, we were showcasing their line of single group espresso machines (the GS3 and Linea Mini) perfect for at home use! The team at La Marzocco is insanely customer oriented and knowledgeable - awesome people to spend the week with.

As I mentioned before, TED draws a super diverse crowd, from scientists, actors, artists, to computer engineers and business tycoons and philanthropists - the attendee list is pretty wild (here’s looking at you Ryan Coogler & polar explorer, Ben Saunders! Hope you liked your latte Zach Braff! Was that cappuccino too cool Al Gore?). The one thing all the attendees do have in common is a general intrigue about things they may not know much about and an openness to learn about those things. This happens to be pretty handy for us trying to teach people about espresso! We had a bar with 5 espresso machines on it and used some of the machines as normal to pump out drinks for the thousands of attendees.  The other machines were turned around to face the attendees so they could learn how to make their own drink.

I know, I know, making coffee can seem pretty intimidating but honestly, it’s just a matter of a few calculations, a few repetitions and you’re well on your way. It can be pretty fun watching people have the experience of making their own coffee for the first time and actually enjoying the drink! Yes, even you can make good coffee at home. If there is one thing I really enjoy doing it’s helping people realize that making coffee can be done easily. While people love to complicate things and make coffee overly fancy or inaccessible for no reason - if you have good coffee and good water you’re most of the way there :)

After a week at TED, hearing many talks about global issues I’m inclined to quickly mention the harsh reality in many, if not all, coffee growing regions - almost exclusively of which are all developing countries. Many coffee farmers are paid astoundingly low prices for a product we pay $5 a cup for, warmer global temperatures are quickly destroying plots of crop due to an increased spread in roya (coffee leaf rust) and eliminating some land as viable to use at all, and political unrest and gender inequity is all too common. And while that is an all too brief overview of the compounding issues that revolve around a cup of coffee I hope it is an encouragement to some to create an awareness and activeness in spreading knowledge and actually acting on it if you are in the position to do so. If we don’t begin to create a sustainable future in coffee we will become bystanders as it disappears.

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