A roaster’s guide to WOC Athens 2023

Esther Gibbs
July 13, 2023
World of Coffee Athens, WOC 2023, WOC Athens, in an article on A roaster’s guide to WOC Athens 2023

Any roaster wanting to keep their fingers on the pulse of what is happening in the industry would have attended the World of Coffee (WOC) trade show in Athens, Greece. 

As the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) flagship European event, World Of Coffee takes place in a different city across the continent every year. This year, WOC attendees flooded Athens – one of the oldest cities in the world. Greece has a thriving and unique coffee shop scene, which is influenced by traditional coffee culture, as well as specialty coffee. 

The event hosted over 10,000 attendees from 130 countries. Several guests were there to watch history in the making, as a Brazilian competitor won the World Barista Championship for the first time.  

Learn more about key aspects of the event that every roaster can benefit from.

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Innovations in technology

Making the coffee trade more sustainable is a priority at every link of the supply chain. While the 

focus has predominantly been on coffee farms, it is now shifting to roasting equipment itself. The 2023 Best New Product Competition recognised five innovative products that could help drive this change. Each was judged on its quality and value to the specialty coffee, tea, and beverage industry. 

The future of roasting may be hydrogen

Probat showcased its P05 Hydrogen model, scooping up the Best New Product award in the Commercial Coffee Preparation Equipment category. The brand has developed new burner technology that uses hydrogen as the primary source of fuel. 

This advancement represents the first board-scale introduction of hydrogen power systems in the coffee industry. The aim is to address higher greenhouse gas emissions often associated with traditional roasters that rely on natural gas. 

Coffee blends made easy

Another innovative demonstration was Acaia’s Orion Nano. Launching later this year, the Orion Nano is a smaller version of the brand’s original Orion bean doser. Notably, the original doser won the in the Coffee Accessories category. 

The new doser can be connected to other Orion Nanos to create an on-demand blending station for green or roasted coffee. Additionally, the Nano features precision dosing capabilities that significantly reduce coffee waste. 

Quality coffee made easy

Winning the award for best Consumer Coffee Preparation and Serving Equipment was Ceado’s HOOP Coffee Brewer. The HOOP is a manual pour over brewing device that uses radial infusion. The cylindrical brewing chamber is surrounded by a circular water reservoir.

When water is added to the HOOP’s outer ring, it seeps through 12 holes around the inner cylinder. According to Ceado, this allows for a soft lateral infusion that occurs at a consistent rate, without any special pouring technique from the barista. Essentially, the HOOP allows consumers to achieve a full and high-quality extraction with no effort. 

“As a roaster, the expo blew me away,” says Dagmawit Abebe, the CEO of Kedemt Coffee in Ethiopia. “It was incredible to see the innovation and technology that focuses directly on end-consumer service and specialty coffee brews.”

“It’s clear the coffee industry is becoming more digital: the innovations in brewing technology, the new equipment entering the market,” she adds. “If we Ethiopians don’t up our game, technology-wise, we may lose our position as a top coffee producer.”

An image of a participant at World of Coffee Athens, WOC Athens, WOC 2023, in an article on A roaster’s guide to WOC Athens 2023

Understanding the updated SCA cupping protocol

In addition to workshops on green coffee defects, espresso extraction, and water quality, the SCA took time to help coffee professionals understand the new Coffee Value Assessment System. The SCA says the new cupping form and protocol will provide industry professionals with a more “complete and high-resolution picture of a specific coffee”.

Essentially, the new protocol and guidelines can be split into four separate assessment stages: 

  • Physical: Evaluating the moisture content, physical appearance, and any visual damage to green coffee. The results of this can be applied to a number of grading systems. 
  • Extrinsic: Evaluating factors such as the coffee’s “identity”, certifications, and origin. 
  • Affective: An evaluation of the cuppers’ opinion on coffee quality based on the 100-point scale. 
  • Descriptive: Evaluating a coffee’s flavour and aroma attributes, with no positive or negative implications. 

Players within the coffee industry can use these separately from one another or collectively.

The presentation by Quinn Sandor Kepes, Senior Director at Verité, on Farm Labour Due Diligence, was also an eye-opening experience. The lecture aimed to educate coffee professionals on the rapid evolution of human rights and labour due diligence requirements in major coffee-importing countries. Furthermore, it communicated the potential implications to coffee companies, and the steps they can take to meet these requirements. 

An image of the MTPak Coffee booth at World of Coffee Athens, WOC Athens, WOC 2023, in an article on A roaster’s guide to WOC Athens 2023

The best in the Coffee Design Awards

The Coffee Design Awards highlight coffee businesses with innovative marketing methods, focussing on factors such as branding, digital communication, and promotional materials. Additionally, the awards programme identifies some of the most compelling coffee packaging designs on the market. 

The SCA Design Awards is divided into three categories: branding, packaging and spaces. Each is judged on a criterion of innovation and improvements, design, education, agroecology (or how it affects origin), and science. 

Empowering women in coffee

The winner of the spaces category was Fiorencia y Fortunata Cafe, a cafe located in Cusco, Peru. The cafe actively empowers women in the coffee industry by selling coffee from female producers. Furthermore, the cafe has female baristas behind the counter. 

“We’ve created an atmosphere that invites you to slow down and connect while learning about the specialty coffee industry in the region,” owner Carolina Peralta Minaya was quoted. “We wanted to make sure that we were creating a homelike space where everyone felt welcome and where customers understood our purpose, combining the freshness of a young woman-led brand in a building full of history.”

Branding to keep an eye on

The branding on Hard Bean’s cans of Nitro Vegan Caramel Latte scooped the award for best branding. The brand’s use of various fine-line yellow illustrations on a deep blue background are eye-catching in contrast to the solid black can. Illustrated packaging is becoming an increasingly common sight in the specialty coffee sector. It can help capture a brand’s identity and make it stand out on the shelf, while also creating packaging worth keeping for customers.

Alf & Bet’s innovative use of paper tubes won the brand the award for best packaging. The brand’s unique cylinder tubes feature bright, bold colours and geometric shapes which instantly attract the eye. Additionally, the combination of colours that usually sit on opposite sides of the spectrum ensures the coffee tubes stand out. 

At the MTPak Coffee booth, attendees were eager to browse through our newly launched coloured stock bags. “Our latest stock bags are available in seven vibrant new colours,” says Alan Lun, managing director at MTPak Coffee. 

“We want to give our customers more choice. Our red bags, for instance, would be ideal for promoting a special Christmas-themed coffee. Plus, we’ve added a new square-shaped bag, which is quite different from our standard-sized bags. This will help the product stand out on the shelf, while still being affordable and easy to transport.”

“As more consumers demand sustainable coffee packaging, roasters can benefit from exploring the ways they can incorporate environmentally friendly coffee bags into their production line,” Alan adds. 

If you have any questions about adopting sustainable coffee packaging, contact our team today.

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