The New Zealand Brewers Cup was held in Wellington last weekend. It may of been a competition of four people, but these were four highly motivated, skilled individuals that had one common goal, and that goal was to go to Italy to represent New Zealand in the World Brewers Cup.
Some may say, it was not a real competition with four people, but the amount of skill and application that went into each competitor’s routine, I doubt there would have been any difference in the finals placing.
The competition consisted of two parts, a compulsory round and an‘open bar’ section.
For the compulsory round, the competitors were given 500gms of the sponsorship coffee to use. The coffee was Guatemala la Soledad, roasted by Coffee Supreme. The purpose of this round was to get the competitors out of their comfort zone, and use a coffee that we have never used.
We were given 30 minutes of practice time to dial in our grinders and find a grind setting that we were happy with.
The compulsory round itself, consisted of five minutes setup time, followed by seven minutes of competition time to prepare and serve their beverages, without any presentation or demonstration. Working in dead silence, but still have spectators watching you, was still nerve racking, compared to last year, where we did it backstage away from googly eyed people.
For the open bar, we were given five minutes of setup time and ten minutes of competition time to present, prepare and serve three cups of coffee, each brewed individually to three judges. In this section we were using our own coffee that we trained for. These beverages had to be accompanied by a presentation that enhanced the coffee experience for the judges.
Aymon McQuade, past New Zealand Barista Champion, World Barista Champion competitor and runner up in last years Brewers Cup.
Who was the biggest draw name, and more times than not, Aymon usually brings home the goods with faultless performances, but he was undone, buy a couple of ‘young guns’ in the eventual winner, Nic Rapp of Flight Coffee and myself.
Using the same coffee as mine, but an older harvest. Aymon believed his post crop coffee had ‘gotten’ better with age. Stored in GrainPro bags and kept out of direct sunlight at room temperature, he believed the sweet aroma of the coffee had improved over time, an ambitious statement, but after trying his coffee through the brew pot I was really impressed! His taste notes were very accurate and the cup really did shine.
Sam Boarchers, from Coffee Lab used a washed Kenyan coffee from the Nyeri region sourced through Nordic Approach, which had bright raspberry acidity and sweetness. Brewing the Kenyan coffee through the clever dripper, Sam used two different types of water at different stages of the brew to bring out those amazing characteristics she was after.
My brew method was a brainchild idea, which was born from the frustration of setting the “right grind” that would match the water volume.
Most people over look it, but when we brew small amounts of coffee, the water will pass through the coffee faster than if you are brewing large amounts, as there is less resistance for the water. Therefore our grind setting has to be finer, also espresso like, so there is enough contact time between the water and coffee bed. If you want to brew a much large volume and hit the same extraction and taste, you would need to grind coarser.
How I showcased this methodology, was in the form of a dripper brewer, which I appropriated from other brew methods. Using a tea strainer, paper filter and adjustable water flow taps. My concept of using restriction of water flow helps increase the body of the coffee, if we’re using a small coffee to water ratio.
The eventual winner, Nic Rapp of Flight Coffee used a 100% Red Caturra from the Huila region in Colombia. This was the same coffee Nick Clark used at the New Zealand Barista Champs this year. From what I remembered of Nic’s rationale, his roast profile was extremely light, almost to Scandinavian levels of light, it had lime acidity and orange sweetness. These notes were matched with grapefruit bitterness in the aftertaste.
Using his trusty AeroPress, Nic knocked out a winning brew!
1st Place: Nic Rapp 139 points
2nd Place Matt Hing 137 points
3rd Pace: Aymon Mcquade
4th Place: Sam Boarchers