Yesterday, at the very end of the Easter Holiday, I took the night bus to Da Matteo in Gothenburg, where the SAC 2012 * was held. Also on the bus were competitors Simon Westerlund and Joanna Alm of Drop Coffee. Nice to have company on that godawful bus trip that lasts forever. Good if you sleep, less good if you are let on an extra bus that is 45 minutes quicker than the connecting bus, leaving us freezing half to death at 3am at Jönköping Bus Terminal, which of course was closed for the public. Not a good start…
Arriving 6am in Gothenburg saw us going straight to the Torrefazione for breakfast and sleep. Soon, Per Nordby arrived and he roasted up some samples from The Collaborative Coffee Source which was extremely interesting to cup. Per was one of the judges for the SAC 2012, together with Pernilla Gard (Da Matteo) and Anders Holzner (J&N). The judging was made up of the three, Per being the head judge casting the heaviest vote if a draw between three cups would occur. All competitors were evaluated blindly, which Charles Nystrand (Koppi) was part of making sure happened by being the middle hand between competitors and judges (and sort of semi-MC).
18 competitors came to the event, all with their own take on the same coffee (El Majahul from El Salvador, roasted by Christian Gullbrandsson at Da Matteo). Even though a super tasty coffee, I bet the judges were pretty sick of it after yesterday. Tasting the same coffee over and over again, with varieties within the brewing highlighting different things, still must be a tough gig! Coffee in Sweden is so small, that even though I hadn’t met everyone yet, I had been in touch with most (almost all) participants at one time or another on Twitter, so it was nice to finally get faces to those odd 140 characters shared at times.
Unfortunately I never made it to a second round. To be honest, the Aeropress has been my least favorite brewing method for quite some time. Not only do I find it rather unsexy (the penis pump look, plastic fantastic feel etc.), but also I’ve left it to focus on other methods. When working at Ristretto in Perth, we sold the Aeropress there, and used it frequently. Emotionally, that’s where it’s still attached to me, and after leaving Australia I’ve sort of never picked it up again. I bought one at The Coffee Collective this autumn, but it was actually collecting dust until the competition came about.
Now, this is what I like about coffee competitions. I tend to have this unwritten rule that whatever filters I buy (be it for V60, Syphon, Chemex etc.) I need to use them up with that method before purchasing new filters. Timing was perfect, I was almost out of filter for everything else, and so I brought the Ghetto Trifecta out of its hiding and started using it. And since I had to, and had no other choice, I went from not wanting to, to actually enjoying it a lot!
My recipe was simple. I ground for filter (4 on the Ditting at Da Matteo), poured the 16,5g of coffee in the Aeropress and pre infused it at about 55g of water for about 20 seconds. Then filling it up all the way to 225g of water and stirred well. Waited for another 20 seconds. Then stir again well, before pressing down and stopping just before that sucking noise occurs. It wasn’t a winning recipe, but I tasted it and it was very good (and it got one out of three votes, so it wasn’t completely useless).
In the end, Emil Eriksson of J&N, coffee prodigy who previously has taken the titles Swedish Barista- Cupping- and Brewers Champion, took first place, runner up was Reggie Elliot, founder of TNT GBG, and third place was Eskil Ingvarsson of J&N. Well deserved and good work guys!
This event was interesting in many aspects, not just to participate in from a competitors point of view. 18 people showed up willing to kick ass and take names with an Aeropress, in a small coffee lab away from any larger audiences, but strictly among peers. Some were in the area for Easter anyway, but others had travelled from Örebro, Stockholm, Malmö and Helsingborg to participate which is quite impressive when there is a Brewers Cup at this years Barista Cup held in Stockholm in two weeks, where hardly anyone is competing! Why is it so?
I have a theory: every now and then there is a paradigm within any given context of cultural event. I’d say there was a paradigm within the WBC when James Hoffmann won the title in 2007. I’d say there was a new paradigm in 2011 when Alejandro Mendez won. Usually when a paradigm occurs, people sometimes tend to think it (in this case, the WBC competition format) has been taken as far as it can go. How could you possibly top this? At the same time, the WBC are moving forward from a competition with and for enthusiasts, to become a profitable competition with ambition and potential to really reach out to the more mainstream audiences. When such paradigms occur, geeks and idealists tend to look at smaller competitions and happenings among peers that are more community building and less public. Ironically, since our very core for business is not brewing quality coffee, but to sell it to a hopefully growing audience that appreciates our efforts. Unfortunately, the Brewers Cup seems to lack that credibility of an independent competition, which in this case I think is up to the SCAE Swedish Chapter to push among potential competitors not just by saying “Last Chance” and “C’mon Brewers!” but informing of the format more thoroughly and make it more accessible.
I wouldn’t mind seeing the SAC as an annual competition, and I certainly wouldn’t mind keeping it in Gothenburg. But I would also like to see other competitions, such as the Syphon Competition, as well as seeing the TNT-format include Brew Bashes and other fun stuff to promote SCAE competitions and make people feel they are relevant!
Thanks everyone* for a lovely weekend, and see you all soon!
NP: Talking Heads Burning Down The House
* sponsors of the event were; Da Matteo, J&N, DCILY, Aerobie, Able Brewing and Kaffemaskinen.