Maybe you saw a little chatter on Instagram earlier this month about the Coffee Champs event in New Orleans. What was that all about? This is an event put on by our trade organization, the Specialty Coffee Association. New Orleans was 1 of 2 qualifying events prior to the national event in Seattle later this Spring.
There are 4 main competitions and I got to participate in the Brewers Cup event. Matt jumped on a last minute opening the week of the event, so with no prior plan of competing this year, we had 4 days of prep to get my routine down as well as the logistics of traveling to New Orleans. Crazy? We saw it as a fun challenge to take on.
Brewers Cup involves 2 performances: Open Service and Compulsory Service. Open service involves brewing 3 separate manual brewed coffees (I chose to use V60 pour-overs) while giving a presentation about the coffee in front of a panel of judges and an audience. You can’t go over 10 minutes and you are judged on the quality of the coffee, the precision of your 3 brews, and your taste description accuracy. The other half, Compulsory Service, you get a blind coffee that every other competitor gets, and you have 45 minutes to decide the best way to brew 3 cups of it for a panel of judges in another room (keeping it blind).
The coffee you use for Open Service is arguably one of the most important things. I decided to use my current favorite off our menu, our honey processed coffee from Aponte, Colombia (More on honey processing in a soon to come post!). This coffee pops with sweetness, red berry notes, a good silky body, and a bright tartness kind of like rhubarb. This coffee has the complexity to shine in a competition. We will have it around for another few months so make sure to try it!
We love how these events push us to re-evaluate our quality and consider how we can push things further to make tastier coffee. Coffee Champs also allows us to meet and chat with good people in our industry, good connections are formed, and a lot can be learned from the other competitors. Did I mention how much coffee there is to sample? You have to watch your intake!
While we didn’t advance on to Nationals, we were very happy with our performance considering such a short notice for prep, ending up middle of the pack. If you are interested, check out Matt’s video of my performance below (or on Facebook).