UK Brewers Cup

So yesterday was the UK Brewers Cup – and I think it was a great event, and irrespective of the result I am extremely glad that it happened.

Initially there wasn’t going to be a UK Brewers Cup.  With the World Brewers Cup being relatively new, countries had the option to nominate someone to compete, and the SCAE UK asked me.  I’ll be completely honest – I did want to compete in the Worlds because I really like this competition.  However, it seemed a little unfair and I thought that it would be a fun competition to put on.  I made a deal that I would go and represent if I failed to organise the UK competition myself.  Because I had wanted to compete I planned to enter into the competition – competitions have always proven to be great learning experiences and I thought this one would be especially fun.

With WBC and all that goes into it, this was perhaps a foolish proposition but I was lucky enough to be able to drag Andrew Tolley from Taylor Street Baristas and Gwilym Davies into the mix to help organise.  As this was outside of the remit of the SCAE we also had to find funding and sponsorship and I have to say thank you to Paul and all at Marco for water boilers, Ed and Steve at Mahlkoenig UK for grinders, Paul at Coffee Hit for prizes and Peter from James Gourmet for roasting the round 1 coffee.

I was delighted with the response – we filled all 20 places very quickly (more seemed a little ambitious as we planned to hold both round 1 and round 2 on the same day, at Prufrock Cafe on a Saturday.)  There was a great cross section of shops and roasters in the running, and we just needed a few judges.

Those judges ended up giving a heroic effort.  They’d judge around 25 cups of coffee over a 9 hour period.  I was impressed.  Thank you to Grant Rattray from Cup of Excellence, Lynsey from United Coffee and Joanna Lawson from Twin Trading.  (Unlike the other two, Grant isn’t a Q-Grader, but he has some substantial cupping credentials….)

The day was fun – a lot more people showed up to hang out, drink coffee and support than we hoped.  The vibe in the place was lovely, and great coffee felt oddly accessible compared to so many other coffee competitions.

I made a little video – I tried to capture everyone during the day but in between organising, competing and just running around like an idiot I maybe didn’t do the best job.  It should show everyone and the brew method they used.  We’ll try and get some recipes up on the tumblr soon.  I am annoyed I didn’t get good footage of Andrew running things, doing the scoring, organising judges and competitors and generally being awesome – thank you again for your help! He should have been in the video, so my apologies there.

So, I ended up winning.  I have to say that I would have felt awkward enough about this, even without the mixture of cheers and groans that met the announcement.  Nonetheless I am very pleased this event happened – I hope all competitors had fun.  I shall do my best in Maastricht later in the month.

A big thank you to Jess for roasting some delicious coffee, it shouldn’t have tasted that good the day after roasting!  For those who want the details I brewed a Kangunu AA lot, from Nyeri, at a ratio of 60g/l.  The method was basically a filtered french press.  (I like simple brewing).  4 minute steep time.

7 Comments

  1. Brilliant job James, competing…AND managing a reportage (oh, and winning!)

  2. Well done James, always good to represent the UK by winning, not just going through. Who were the 6 finalists?

  3. Great video and congrats on winning. Seemed like all the hard work was worth a fantastic time for everyone.

  4. Hm, i like the brewers cup as a competition very much, perhaps even more than the barista championships. With the WBC/UKBC it seems (to me, in my opinion) that it is at the bottom of it, a game, a preformance. It should (again, in my humble opinion) take some clues from these events and perhaps take itself abit less serious. I love that it’s uncomplicated, accecible (for everyone, not just hardcore proffesional baristas). More of this!

  5. Congratulations James and everybody else…
    Tell us: what grinder, what grinder setting, water temp and paddling method for the winning French Press…

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