Heat and Passion
"Hot." That was the response of most exhibitors and many visitors when asked, "How's the show going for you?"
With a Roman heat wave reaching 43 degrees Celcius and an air-conditioning system installed as an afterthought by Mussolini when lie constructed the Fiera Di Roma exhibition venue, the 2003 Tea & Coffee World Cup Exhibition and Symposium at times resembled a Turkish Bath, especially on the set up day as contractors struggled to erect imposing and lavish booths on the alarmingly sloping floor of the main exhibition hall while the venue’s engineers attempted vainly to effect repairs on the ancient air conditioner hanging ponderously under the hot ceiling.
By the second day of the show, the unit made a brave effort to co-operate. moving puffs of cooler air into the sluggish, humid atmosphere, by now redolent with the aromas of
fine coffees and teas. The word spread amongst exhibitors that removing light bulbs from displays would reduce the ambient heat slightly, and the venue dimmed noticeably during the afternoon. Ice became a valuable commodity, as samples were served chilled rather than hot by many tea and some coffee exhibitors.
By the final day. either everyone had adjusted and got used to the heat or the air conditioner actually did get itself fully operational again, because it seemed a bit cooler. Or perhaps it was the memories of the excellent party the organizers threw the evening before that saw fine wines and spirits, fantastic food and frenzied dancing into the night, set in the lavish grounds of a secluded Roman villa, a bacchanalian celebration of Roman proportions, that had
chilled everyone out.
Nonetheless, although gripped in a hear wave the likes of which Rome hasn’t experienced in decades that made moving around during the day a major effort, thousands of visitors roamed around the floors of the two halls and attended the Tea & Coffee World Cup Symposiums held at the more modern - and much cooler - conference halls from the moment the show opened its doors.
Rome is, after all, the capital city of Italy, and Italy has a long and proud coffee
culture. Italian espresso machines and coffee blends are regarded as the benchmark of excellence for epicurean coffee lovers the World over Its European neighbors include the U.K., whose love of tea has established as the second largest tea importer in the world. So it was hardly surprising then that both tea and coffee were both well represented at the show, together with most major manufacturers of equipment from all segments of the industries. Exhibitors and visitors came from around the world to celebrate the two most popular beverages on the planet, and throughout the three days of exhibition and conferences, there was a constant, seething mass of well-qualified visitors, and most exhibitors were kept very busy talking to them.
"The quality of visitors is astounding: this morning alone we have met many old clients and lots of potential new ones," according to one exhibitor we interviewed. "We have met buyers from around the world. Despite the heat, this is the best show we have ever exhibited at: we've met more people here than at all the rest of the shows we have attended this year combined," said another.
Tea and Coffee interviewed dozens of exhibitors at the show, and learned of many innovations, trends and ideas, saw new machines and technologies, and tasted some of the best teas and coffees from around the world. Have you ever had a Laotian espresso? Well, why not? You should! The French, the leading importer of Laotian have apparently been keeping it a secret for years!
The symposiums were very well attended by audiences from around the world representing all aspects of the industry. A broad range of topical issues were discussed and the quality of the speakers was clearly impressive. Presentations included synopses and research on the
over-production of tea - and ideas of what to do about it, the latest findings on the health benefits of tea and coffee, analyses and strategies for developing new markets, an overview of European legislative topics of concern to tea exporters, and how to set up your own tea salon and succeed.
Innovations and Trends
There were so many interesting and innovative products unveiled at the show that there really isn’t enough space to detail them in this show summary.
Some random items to whet your appetite indude seamless, four-sided pyramid tea bags from NASA Corporation of Japan; Neuhaus Neotec’s new Rotating Fluidized Bed (RFB) Roaster technology; the LCD display on Fetco’s latest Luxus coffee dispensers that shows how much coffee is left in the pot and how long it has been there - in code; the incredible range of specialty teas from Floropharm, laced with bits of orange, apple, coconut and more herbs and spices than we ever dreamed possible; the amazing tea bag and hard and soft coffee pod packaging systems from IMA of Italy; the aero-mechanical conveyor systems of Entecon
from the U.K., whose minute power consumption belies the fact that they deliver consistent product in large quantities while leaving no contaminants behind thanks to a patented jet cleaning system; and the latest wave of highly sophisticated but simple-to-operate automatic espresso machines of Italian company CMA (manufacturers of the Astoria range) and WMF of Germany.
There was no shortage of passion amongst many of the exhibitors and delegates. Fueled not so much by the heat but by their devotion and love for their chosen beverage or field, whether it be growing, cupping, roasting or brewing coffee, cultivating, marketing, processing, marketing or steeping tea.
Passion. Such as you will find in Florapharm’s ebullient c.e.o. Georg Kroll. Kroll welcomed us to his booth, resplendent and redolent with the exotic aromas of his unique specialty herb teas. "Tea is a philosophy for me," he said. "It’s not a fixed point. If you drink tea, you should be free, high spirited." Georg serves a very specialized market; mostly tea shops around Germany and Europe. He saw exhibiting at the show as an opportunity to test new markets, to further promote his goal of gently introducing his flagrant fragrances to new countries. "This show has been very good for us," he said, "and I will definitely be exhibiting in Hamburg in September 2005, and quite possibly in Singapore in October 2004. Does the air-
conditioning work there?" he quipped...
Passion. Such as that of the Café Florian representatives. One of the oldest coffee shops in the world, Café Florian had as its stand a reproduction one of its centuries-old rooms; replete with panels of baroque art embracing its cozy booths. Founded in St. Mark’s square, Venice, in 1720, Café Florian is still flourishing today, not only as a coffee shop but an arts and cultural center and life style icon. We spoke with the charming Daniela Gaddo Vedaldi, one of the owners, and she told us that they had come to the show as part of their strategy to develop their own unique brand and export it outside of Italy.
"We have a range of Café Florian luxury products based on quality and taste, what Venice was and should be, that a discriminating client seeks," she told us. "This show has introduced Café Florian to many new contacts," she said. "It is so hot, perhaps you would prefer to have a cold drink rather than one of our trademark Brazilian Arabica espressos?" she asked. We took the espresso, of course.
Passion. Such as that of Darjeeling tea exporter and managing director of Golden Tips Tea Co. Pry., Madhav Sarda, who told us, "Tea is God’s "gift to mankind." Sarda obviously believes God has a preference for Darjeeling, as he mentioned later, "My dream is to see Darjeeling tea in every home around the world." His flavorful, exotic blends are found at supermarkets and duty free stores throughout India, are served on Air India, and are recognized worldwide as being of the highest quality available.
Available in regular packaging, Golden Tips also markets their teas in a fantastic assortment of eye-catching brass inlaid boxes, tins and caddies, beautiful hand-made works of art reflecting the diversity and color of Indian crafts, each containing the highest quality teas. Like many of the smaller, independent exhibitors, Sarda told us that exhibiting at the show was an important part of his strategy to introduce the highest quality teas to discerning customers across the world. He is already well established and accredited throughout India and has a
sizeable international mail order business, but Sarda has studied the market well and decided that he can source enough top quality teas to introduce his blends to a wider, more international customer base. "We have met many new friends here at World Cup," exclaimed Sarda. "We have had the opportunity to sit and talk with many buyers and dealers from around the world that we never otherwise would have been able to meet. To come to a show such as this is expensive for us, because we are really only a small company, but the benefits definitely outweigh the costs."
There was no shortage of specialty products to choose from, and exhibitors from the private and government sectors were anxious to extol the virtues of their own specific brands and categories.
The Sri Lanka Tea Board delegation, led by Ceylon Tea Promotion Division director Hasitha de Alwis, represented an internationally acknowledged icon of branding success by a government endorsed organization that has established Ceylon tea as a major specialty brand throughout the world for many years now. The teas on offer, as well as the knowledgeable and wise words flowing from the delegation, certainly acted as an inspiration to other countries seeking to establish strong brand recognition for their national teas, as well as to small entrepreneurs seeking to establish their own unique varieties in the specialty markets under the umbrella of an internationally recognized, quality-assured country of origin.
The Indian Tea board was likewise well represented. Several high quality producers
exhibited at the stand and the presence of H. K. Das, chairman of the Indian Tea Board ensured visitors were treated to a highly knowledgeable exposition of the value and quality inherent in Indian teas. Das also made a definitive presentation on the Indian tea industry, its domestic and export markets and what the future holds for the world’s largest tea producer. This includes a modern, fast and efficient IT portal designed to allow parallel bidding collation of information and processing of after sales paperwork in seconds, a task that previously could take several days. The tea party held at the Indian Tea Board booth on Sunday afternoon introduced many visitors to a variety of Indian teas (served iced in deference to the heat) and some delightful Indian savories and sweets.
Despite the ongoing SARS epidemic and visa restrictions that kept many Chinese delegates away, China and certainly her teas were well represented at the show. Several booths from China specialized in Chinese teas, among them Yitian Tea Export and YL Coffee & Tea.
Citing an interest in adding more European customers to her predominantly Japanese-based market, Michiko Kawatami of Ginga Corporation, which operates a tea factory in Songjiang, Shanghai and another in Kunshan City, Jiangsu. ISO 9001 approved since August 2002, told us that Ginko corporation buys, processes and packages tea from China for a variety of OEM customers and recently launched its own brand as well. "I am very satisfied with the show," Michiko San told us. "I have been very busy, many contacts. And very hot."
Roaster giants Probat took time out from meeting their many customers old and new to show us around their latest machine, which they introduced at the show. The L50 has a capacity of 200 kg per hour to cater to larger shops and smaller roasters and complements the entire range of
Probat roasters. Managing director Stephan Lange, told us that, despite the heat, the show was "excellent. We have made many contacts, from Argentina to New Zealand." Probat is another passionate coffee company, involving themselves in all aspects of coffee, from crop to cup. Its involvement with the World Barista Championship is perhaps well known, its association with La Marzocco coffee machines and Mahlkonig grinders, both also co-sponsors of the Barista competition, may be not. "Both these companies are trying to deliver a very high quality product, and are recognized as such worldwide. We work with them very closely," said Lange.
Rome’s Tea & Coffee World Cup will be remembered as the most important tea and coffee trade show of 2003, in part for the diverse range of industry professionals who came to the show as exhibitors, speakers, delegates, and visitors and because of the enormous amount of business generated in three short, hot days. So its arrivederci Roma and Ni hao Singapore, as next year’s Tea & Coffee Asia show, to be held at Singapore Suntec City Exhibition Centre in 2004, promises to be another exciting opportunity to meet and mingle with those who really matter in the Tea and Coffee Industry, the "quality visitors" and industry insiders that make and shake the globe’s two finest beverages.
Contact Analia Pereda, Tea & Coffee Trade Journal, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.tcworldcup.net for further information on upcoming shows.