Still excited after the Queensland Barista Championships we rocked up to Coffee Supreme Brisbane for the Queensland Brewers Cup and Cup Tasting Championships. We arrived as the Brewers Cup was on and ran into Ash, runner-up last time the event was held.

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Ash had taken his turn first and was happy it worked out that way. Ash explained, ‘I’ve been working with an Australian coffee farmer in the NSW hinterland to get the green beans. I then roasted them myself for the pour over method. I felt that was the best brew method to extract the most from the coffee.’ Already we were impressed by the amount of effort baristas put in for this competition.

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The format of the Brewers Cup is each barista prepares filtered coffee by hand, promoting manual coffee brewing and service excellence. As opposed to last time each barista had chosen the pour over method. We watched Scott, who won the competition last time, hoping to pick up tips for brewing at home.

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Scott chose to sit all three pour overs onto the one set of scales and place makeshift lids (cup saucers) over the Kalita Wave to keep the heat consistent. This strategy was not for the mathematically challenged as he had to constantly keep doing the sums for three brews, while lifting the lids, pouring water and keeping his eye on the weight reading on the scales. At the same time describing to the judges what they can expect from his Ethiopian Harewa Gatira roasted by Coffee Supreme Brisbane (the same coffee Josh roasted for us on the CityBus Coffee Tour). It’s a good job he’s an engineering student! We also wondered if he was a juggler in his spare time.

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The setup began for the Cup Tasting Championships and an interlude for James who had also competed earlier to share his brew. James chose something from Kenya, highlighting that African coffee drinking was in full swing. It was a really good coffee and so nice of him to share with anyone he could find. Lucky we were close at hand … Was it the winner though? We would have to wait until later.

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We ran into Dragan owner of Dramanti Artisan Roaster who had been judging the Brewers Cup. He explained the format of the Cup Tasting. ‘Competitors taste eight sets of coffees at the same time. Each set has three coffees to slurp from a cupping spoon. The objective is to pick one coffee that does not taste like the other two,’ Dragan summarised. The competitor has to do this as quickly as possible because in the event of a tie, the person who picks the correct ones quickest is the winner. Judges count the chosen eight coffees and give a score on how many the competitor chose correctly. The competitor with the highest score wins!

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The siren went and the four competitors were off, spoons flailing, slurping, no time for spitting. Twenty-four cups of coffee to taste … and then find the odd ones out. The race for time was certainly apparent, some smashing through them, some going back to them at the end to make sure of their choice. After a frantic couple of minutes the judges descended to the arena for the count. One judge per contestant meticulously checked one at a time to ensure the correct coffee had been chosen. This was the fun part with the tally announced continuously the crowd got to ooh and aah. Yes, No, Yes, Yes … aah. Yes, Yes, Yes, No … ooooh! Eva said, ‘it was great fun but a little stressful with the time pressure!’

The results:

  1. Merryn (Woodmans Axe)
  2. Andrew (Veneziano Coffee Roasters)
  3. Eva (Coffee Supreme Brisbane)

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The judges then had to deliberate before announcing the placings of the Brewers Cup. The strategy of Scott had worked with first place, James in second and Ash in third. You can taste the winning brews for yourself:

  1. Scott (Coffee Supreme Brisbane, Woolloongabba)
  2. James
  3. Ash (Ltd Espresso + Brew Bar, The Valley)