Miguel Vicuña: Swiss Army Knife of Specialty Coffee Talks RMCCA and SCA with the Zine

“To encourage interaction with our patrons and colleagues to illustrate what craft coffee endeavors to be, fostering a passionate atmosphere within that relationship, and to transform “consumers” into “enthusiasts”.”Rocky Mountain Craft Coffee Alliance Charter

By Colorado Coffee Zine

January was a busy month for the coffee community in Colorado.The Huckleberry TNT, the announcement of the Rocky Mountain Craft Coffee Alliance (RMCCA) Executive Council, and the first Qualifying Competition for the US Coffee Championships. Miguel Vicuña, who can best be described as the swiss army knife of specialty coffee given his decade plus of experience, was involved in all of it. He sat down for a chat with the Zine after the Friday coffee rush at Sweet Bloom in Lakewood, his current headquarters for local and national work including but not limited to Retail Manager and Trainer, Barista Guild of America Executive Council, US Barista Championships Head Judge, World Barista Championship Sensory Judge, and SCAA Specialized Instructor.

 

Before getting into the story behind an exciting decade of passports, education, and of course Starbucks, Miguel gives the Zine a look at the RMCCA, the regional coffee organization that brings together specialty coffee professionals. “Its not just geared towards roasting, extracting and brewing. We’re trying to really just get past all that and dig even deeper into what specialty coffee is, from seed to cup,” said Miguel. The RMCCA stays involved during the year by organizing 3 major events that range in theme and focus.

 

Among the most memorable RMCCA events, Miguel named a lecture on wild coffee in the Sudan by Denver-based  Coffee Scientist Dr. Sarada Krishnan, current Director of Horticulture and Center for Global Initiatives at Denver Botanic Gardens. The lecture was part of a series of 10 to 15 minute presentations in a Ted Talk format. Miguel described another memorable presentation, “a grinder chamber that was blown up 5 times made out of wood and we talked about the wobble that happens in that grinder,” showing the range of topics that you might  come across at an RMCCA event.

 

Ultimately, the RMCCA aims to give local specialty coffee professionals the opportunity to grow and develop without the pressure to attend the higher profile events hosted by the Specialty Coffee Association. “While we were all kind of volunteering on a national level, we saw that there was a slight disconnect happening from the local community to the national level. Not everyone can go to the coffee expo…so we wanted to bring that to the local level” Miguel told the Zine.

 

Miguel’s involvement the Specialty Coffee Association, which hosts high profile national and international events, has helped create a bridge with stronger resources for the RMCCA. One of the biggest shifts in the coffee community announced in 2017 was that the Specialty Coffee Association of America and the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe have officially become one organization, the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA). “This is a really big step for specialty coffee in general, its more on an international worldwide level, not just America saying this, Europe saying that, but its a unified voice coming together, working towards promoting and exemplifying specialty coffee not just around the countries but around the world” said Miguel of the announcement.

The newly elected executive council for the RMCCA was announced on January 12th at the Huckleberry TNT where Miguel participated as a judge. “The future looks really bright with these younger, more innovative coffee people that have emerged onto the scene within the last 5 years” Miguel said of the announcement. He looks forward to a year packed with local, regional, national, and international learning opportunities in the specialty coffee world, excited and eager to see what’s next, “I think we are seeing a resurgence of concepts, ideas and different ways of thinking, which is really refreshing. Nobody’s just doing it just because that’s how they’ve always done it. People are pushing boundaries and I think that always progresses us forward.”

 

Rocky Mountain Craft Coffee Alliance
Specialty Coffee Association
Barista Guild of America
Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters
US Coffee Championships 2017
Denver Botanic Gardens Coffee Research
SCAA Flavor Wheel