Critiqued and Judged:
the Value of Competition
As we all know, the coffee industry continues to evolve and our customers have become increasingly savvy on coffee. They are asking us more educated questions and want to learn more about source, brewing techniques, and the latest trends. In the Office Coffee segment, it is not uncommon to find espresso equipment, and 3rd wave equipment offering singe origin small lot varietals as a method to retain and attract top talent to their firm.
More coffee customers are looking to coffee competitions to what are the new on trend coffees and roasters. The Golden Bean Competition is a yearly competition that captures the essence and movement of coffee from what it was to where the industry is going. This competition is the world’s largest roasting competition that started in Australia 19 years ago and was introduced in North America 8 years ago. This event brings the best roasters both regionally and around the world to bring their very best coffees to be critiqued and judged ultimately showcasing the best roasters and on trend coffee origins.
Roasters and coffee experts across North America attend the event every year to network, taste and judge amazing coffees, attend seminars from industry experts and participate in various networking functions and coffee cupping sessions. There are 10 categories that a coffee roaster can enter, but in order to qualify for the overall champion of the Golden Bean they must submit to at least 3 categories: Espresso, Milk Based, and Filter. Roasters need to submit their coffees with the prerequisite that the coffee is available commercially pre and post competition.
Prior to entering the competition, every year coffee roasters identify which of their current blends and single origins would best represent their work and achieve the best results. They then carefully select the coffees by testing them using the specific parameters for espresso brewing, milk steaming and a pour over making. During this process there are many aspects within each category being evaluated.
When roasters test the espresso, they can look for a complexity and a balance between the flavors. A smooth, silky and syrupy espresso that leaves a long, memorable, pleasant aftertaste…
For the milk-based beverage roasters look for the synergy that coffee and milk create when they meet. It should taste like a desert that you want never to be gone.
For a filter category, they make a pour-over and sip in different stages to assess the aroma, flavor, body, aftertaste, acidity and balance. The coffee needs to perform well from the moment it is brewed until it naturally cools down. Coffee roasters then look for unique coffees that are enjoyed by all, whether by coffee competition judges, people with more refined palate or someone looking for a nice cup to start the day with.
Nelson Mandela wrote “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” In our industry the more we can continue to learn about the products that we sell, the more comfortable and beneficial it will be for our business.
Lenka Bohorova (SCA Certified Coffee Trainer and Coffee Training Manager at Canterbury Coffee) and Brad Gesell (Director of Sales Eastern Canada at Canterbury Coffee)