Goshen at 2024 Coffee Qualifying Competitions
I decided to once again compete in the Qualifying competition for US Roasters and US Cup Tasters. The 2024 season event was held in Houston from January 16 - 19. This year the roasting competition was pretty tense as it was the first time we would be roasting on site to qualify for the national competition. All the competitors were given the same coffee and information on this coffee. On the first day we were given a small sample of it so we could do a green grading before performing a sample roast of that coffee. The next day we were able to evaluate that sample roast by taking a color reading of the roasted coffee and tasting it brewed.
With this knowledge you were required to then create a roast plan where you write out what your intended start temperature, end temperature, start weight, end weight and roasted color reading would be for your final submitted roast. On this sheet you were also required to write down what the judges should be tasting in your coffee. We had to describe what the judges should smell, taste in flavor, the aftertaste, the perceived sweetness, acidity and body. This sheet would be used in determining a score based on how accurate your roast plan was compared to your final submitted roast.
After the sample evaluation was done, we were allowed 30 minutes to practice what our roast plan would be, however we would not be able to taste any of the roasting we got done during this time. That’s a difficult part of the competition as you are left to use your intuition and previous roasting experience to make any changes to your roast plan without being able to confirm if your predictions were correct.
We did our final production roast on the third day. Before the roast started, we submitted our roast plan. We were then given 30 minutes to create a final submitted coffee. The competitors were not allowed to bring notes with them on how they wanted to roast the coffee but had to rely on memory and instinct. By the end of that 30 minutes your final roast had to be sealed in a bag and handed to the judges or you would be disqualified from the competition.
On the last day of this competition, the judges would evaluate the roasts and roast plans while the competitors participated in an onstage Q & A about their roasting plan. The whole thing was really tough, but compared to previous years it is much more aligned with what the national competition would look like. By the time that Q & A happened though, I was ready to turn my brain off!
While all this roasting was happening, I somehow found some time to compete in the Cup Tasters Qualifiers. Here I would have just one chance to taste six different sets of three cups. In each one of these sets of three, there are two cups that are the same and one that is different. You then have six minutes to find the outlier in each set. The person with the most right in the fastest time is crowned the winner.
I like putting my noise canceling headphones in for this competition to help tune everything out. I prefer listening to some fast paced jazz as it helps me focus and move at a quick pace. This time I was listening to “Take Five” by The Dave Brubeck Quartet and it really got me in the zone. The whole thing went by pretty fast, but I didn’t really have a good indication on where my time landed.
Super happy to say that I placed well enough to bring me back to the national stage for both competitions! In the US Roasters Qualifiers I placed 4th out of 32 competitors. In the US Cup Tasters Qualifiers I placed 1st out of 31 competitors with 6 out of 6 right in the fastest time of 01:14! I ended up having a really strong showing at this event and I’m thrilled to be able to advance representing Goshen on the national stage once again. Keep an eye out as we will be posting live at these national competitions, so wish us luck!