The National Automatic Merchandising Associations coffee, tea and water event has evolved in a short time into one of the best reasons that refreshment service operators should belong to their national association.From humble beginnings in Cherry Hill, N.J. in 2008, the annual coffee event has emerged as one of the most important annual gatherings in the highly fragmented U.S. coffee industry. It has the potential to become the leading U.S. coffee show.The event has grown in every way. The education, networking and table top exhibits have all improved in quality and quantity in response to the needs of an evolving industry.When NAMA absorbed the National Coffee Service Association (NCSA) in 1999, some dedicated coffee service operators objected to the merger on the basis that their industry could not be adequately served without a dedicated association. NAMA has proven them wrong.Hal Steuber, a coffee service pioneer and the last NCSA chairman, commented in receiving the Coffee Legends Award this year that the event is much better than anything ever done in the way of a coffee service show. Those of us who know Hal (co-founder of Associated Services Coffee Co. in San Leandro, Calif.) know he doesnt comment lightly.Education remains the shows focus. The sessions this year addressed all major issues facing the industry: the rise of e-commerce opportunities, new product opportunities, sustainability, people management, sales techniques and more.The number of exhibits reached 89 this year. To make the exhibits more meaningful to attendees, the hours were extended and electricity was added.NAMA, in changing the name of the show to CoffeeTea&Water this year, has honed thefocus of the event and made it more beneficial to its members.The CoffeeTea&Water event is on its way to becoming the nations leading annual events for the fastest growing market segment of refreshment services.Thats a great benefit to industry members.