CoffeeCon San Francisco 2014It’s no secret that CoffeeCon’s classes are one of its strengths. As fun as tasting coffee from 30 exhibitors is, the real meat of our event is in the classes and hands-on labs we offer. Here’s my quick cheat sheet on how to work through all the choices. While I can’t decide what matters to you, I know each presenter and their content and describe the courses.

Jim Schulman is a well-known online expert. As I’ve written before, Jim’s an amateur as is Sherlock Holmes. Like Holmes, the industry consults him. His Ultimate Water Class will make you realize how critical that 98% plus ingredient is to your brew, whether you’re making automatic drip, a manual pourover or espresso. Schulman’s Home Espresso Class is world-class, and he insists upon teaching it using a mainstream consumer machine, so it’s not just a high-end toy love fest. Our Chemex Lab is hands on. We’ve got a number of Chemexes to practice with. Believe me, the ability to brew hands-on with a guide is revelatory. Our Latte Art Class lets you see a top barista, Donny Morrison, show off his techniques and even slow it down a bit as he explains this or that motion. Imagine what this adds to entertaining, to be able to add these designs to a perfect espresso at home. Unless you’re brewing with distilled water, all coffee apparatus needs to be keep clean. It actually affects performance and taste. I’ve long used Urnex. Learn why and learn how to keep your costly gear in top condition (cafes do!) thanks to the Coffeemaker Cleaning and Care class.

We’re adding two (!!) Hario classes. The first will teach the Hario V60 Manual Pourover Class. This single brewer has converted lots of folks to abandon automatic machines. Learn why and the best techniques. More rare (cue drum roll) is the Hario Siphon Class for its siphon (or do you say vacuum?) brewer. This most theatrical of devices is rarely used or understood. It’s long been one of my favorites, and I must admit, after writing about it in two books and demonstrating it on a video, I re-learned the process at CoffeeCon. Even if you’re a veteran siphon user, you won’t want to miss this one. Proyecto Diaz is part of a family farm in Mexico. His Building a Direct Trade Class will explain how a family approaches farming coffee. A big part of making specialty coffee really work in our consuming world is to learn and understand how it works, which leads to how we can make it sustainable.

Chocolate is often considered coffee’s twin. It shares several common traits, including being from a bean, from similar terroir and can be treated as a commodity or a sustainable treasure (guess where we stand on this?). I met Cho in San Francisco and was so smitten, I invited them down to share their chocolate knowledge… and samples, ones we can drink at their Tasting Chocolate class! Klatch Coffee was just elected Roaster of the Year, and they’re Los Angeles-based. Who better to take you on a journey from seed to cup? Learn from the best. Kenneth Davids invented coffee reviewing ala Wine Advocate, and he’s here to equip you to be your own reviewer as well as learn to maximize any reviews’ usefulness in his How to Review Coffee Class. We’ve also got an Aeropress Class. This most unpretentious of manual brewers actually has such flexibility – it’s the only brewer I know of that has a legion of fans using it upside down (!); anyway, you’ll learn new and different ways to use one to maximum benefit. We have classes devoted to exotic preparations.

Altered Brews takes a new look at flavors and how to understand the tastes we get when we indulge in flavoring coffee, but with a sophisticated twist. Bulletproof Coffee is being hailed the ultimate energy drink. Learn how it works and how to prepare it for maximum effect and taste in the Butter Coffee Class. I’ve been predicting a resurgence of Turkish coffee here in the US. Turkish Coffee World’s Mustafa Arat is a compelling instructor for this oldest of all brewing methods in his Turkish Coffee Class. Kenneth Davids moderates a panel discussion titled:

The Future of Coffee Panel, which asks what’s next after the Third Wave? But, it’s more than a discussion of fashion. There are online technologies that may lead to online brewing interactivity. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. You won’t want to the “Ted-style” discussion. The French press seems the most basic of all brewing methods, but Espro has taken and rethought it and has a Press Brewing Class devoted to the brewer that so many have, but few have mastered. Home roasting is perhaps the ultimate enthusiast step. We’ve feature two indoor roasting demonstrations. Todd Goldsworthy conducts one our most vital Grinding Class. The grinder is the easiest to test, and equally important to the final cup quality. Why isn’t more attention paid? Todd will explain everything you need to know.

Sustainability is the idea that next year we’ll have access to great coffees equal to this year and so on. It is simply the most important topic of the coffee enthusiast, because addressing it keeps us supplied. Drew Zent of one of the most respected green coffee growers and importers gives us an insider’s look at this vital topic in Coffee Sustainability. Learn what farmers know that most others in the industry do not about sustainability. You and the industry will be better for it. Ever wish you could see Henry Ford talk about inventing the automobile? We have Alan Adler, whose Aeropress is the current darling of hipster home coffee aficionados, explain the hows and whys in the Aeropress presentation, as well as share his own brewing secrets of this amazingly simple, yet adaptable cylindrical brewer. Finally, George Howell will be again presenting his famous “For the Love of Coffee” tasting seminar. It lasts two hours. It is life changing. It also costs $15 extra to cover lab costs, including tasting glassware so you and one hundred others can taste what George is tasting and talking about, brewed onsite courtesy Bunn. This is a long post, but there’s lots to do. Hope it helps.