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Highs and Lows of 2003
Highs and Lows of 2003
Posted January 5, 2004 11:05pm
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It's been an eventful 2003 for me in the world of coffee - lots of highs, some lows. In what will probably become an annual tradition around here, I'd like to recap some of these events.

The Highs
There were so many highs this past year, I'm probably going to be leaving lots out. But here's what comes to mind right now.

CoffeeGeek launching V2 A long time coming, but I was very happy the day we rolled out version two of the website. Visitors were happy too. In the first two months, our visit count was up over 30%.

Raising money for CoffeeKids I really liked doing this, and made it my personal mission to try and raise awareness of the organization. I feel we haven't done enough (we meaning the CoffeeGeek community) but that's only because I wanted to raise a million dollars if I could.

All the Press I've gotten lots of mainstream press this year, and I'm extremely fortunate that all of it, save for one tiny Italian language newspaper, was overwhelmingly positive. Put your bragging blinders on, here's a roll call from memory: New York Times (twice), New York Sun, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Reuters, Newsweek, Newsday, Business Week, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Seattle Times, Canadian Business, Vancouver Sun, National Post, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Richmond Review (and Richmond News), Edmonton Journal, Toronto Star, Winnepeg Free Press, LA Times, Mens' Health, and someone said they read about me in the Globe and Mail, but I never saw that article.

SCAA Boston Definitely a weekend filled with highlights. From meeting a lot of people I know on the Internet, to having a very brief hello with Dr. Illy, it was all good.

PNW Barista Jam Last February was an honour and a privilege to participate in that event.

Canadian Barista Championship Our first ever, and I was involved behind the scenes and as a judge.

US Barista Championship I was a judge in a marathon first round, and it was all good.

Cupping with Ken Davids a thrill, even if a lot of it was robusta.

Meeting George Howell Technically, this happened in the fall of 2002, but who's counting

Getting a La Marzocco The epitome of the espresso machine. Sitting in my basement. I'm extremely lucky.

Long Term Testing of an Elektra Micro Casa Semiautomatica Not only is it one of the most beautiful machines out there (in an industrial way), but it brews an amazing shot

Meeting Hundreds of Serious Coffee lovers from pro Baristi to enlightened consumers, I've met so many - again, I'm incredibly lucky.

Being Surprised by a Francis! Francis! X3 I'm always willing to eat my words if a machine ends up being better than its reputation. The X3 made me a Francis! Francis! fan.

Sunday Barbeque after the Canadian Coffee and Tea Expo Jeanette and I had a barbeque for many out-of-towners, and it was a thrill to have them over.

Friday Cuppings at JJ Bean Something I resolve to do more of in the new year, I'm very honoured that I have an open invite to drop in on these coffee cuppings.

Joshing Don Holly I took the micky out of one of the most knowledgable espresso heads on the planet, then spent the rest of the weekend worrying about the offense I did. It was all good :)

"Is that Mark Prince?" Hearing David Schomer say that when I shouted out, in the midst of a huge crowd, "how about a ristretto, Dave?"

Working with Frank Dennis I was in awe when Frank (ceo of Swiss Water Decaf) came over to my home one weekend to work on a proposal for the marketing plan for the SCAA's cMembership category. The guy's brilliant.

Constantly Learning This year has seen my own coffee progression go in leaps and bounds. It never stops. The people who think they know it all in this biz are the poorest.

The Low Points
There definitely were some low points in my coffee life this year. Here's a couple.

Coffee hurts my business In September, my company went through a very tough time with people upset at the amount of time I put into volunteer efforts with the SCAA, in light of some bad business on the organization's part. Also throughout the year, some of our clients (non-coffee) suffered or were put off for a time because of my unavailability. This won't be happening in the new year.

Long delay to get CoffeeGeek V2 out It was supposed to launch in the spring. Then the summer. Then September. Finally, it rolled out in October.

Slowness of the CG Site A constant worry of mine.

People who can't be pleased This past year, I've been accused of: being a racist; ripping people off; misleading people; being a snob; being stupid; and of being a combination of the above. Fortunately, these people are in the vast minority of the communications I have, but it still hurts.

Rancilio doesn't launch a prosumer machine I had high hopes that Rancilio would bring out a heat exchanger, $1200 retail machine at the Milan trade show in November. Instead, we got a revamped skin for the Silvia, and the Class 6 machine which is a total commercial machine. Rancilio's still missing the boat.

Slow pace of the Detailed Reviews I made this hole myself. My Detailed Reviews are so bloody detailed, doing one takes months and months to roll out. Vendors are pissed, readers are hungry. What to do...

Sad state of espresso in my home town That would be Ottawa, not Vancouver. Vancouver's got a long way to go, but Ottawa is scary bad.

Strained relationships with a few people in the coffee biz I'm not liking this. Joe Monaghan told me in Seattle at CoffeeFest "Mark, no one's risen faster in the world of coffee or made more enemies than you!" Yikes. There's only a couple. I wouldn't call them enemies either, but the fallout with the SCAA hurt most. I could care less if Nestle or Sara Lee thinks of me as public enemy number one.

My Mom fighting and slowly losing a battle to cancer That sucks beyond belief. But I got to spend another Christmas with her, and even see in the new year. The hospice she's in takes good care of her.

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