Freitag, 15. Februar 2008

German Competitions 2008

The championships are over, and I've had a little bit of time to face reality again (though sleeping in my own bed only for one night in over a week doesn't help there). Bad news first: I placed 14th. Which is not too bad considering the amount of training I've done.

The good news next: I placed 8th. Of 18. In the cuptasting competition. I'm pretty proud of that. Not familiar with this type of competition? It's actually quite simple: you're given eight sets of three cups, of which two contain the same coffee and the third a different one. You're given a cupping spoon (thanks IAC, the spoons were great!). Spot the odd and push the cup away. If you're lucky it has a red dot beneath. This year, I spotted 6 of the 8 sets right - the winner spotted 7, so I'm quite in the ballpark I believe! At the competition in 2006, I only did 3 cups right, though you can't really compare the numbers because the coffee of course is quite different through the years, this looks like quite an improvement to me.

Barista competition.

Jule is always blazingly fast Jule Runge of the Coffee Store in Bielefeld placed second (and first in the latteart competition!), and Thomas Schiessl of won the competition. Congratulations for both and all the best for Copenhagen!

Walter of roasted the coffee for me, and he and I both put quite some work into finding the right coffees. He listened to my suggestions about how I'd like the roast to be (a little bit on the light side), and he took a great effort to get this coffee to me in time. My blend was two thirds of Costa Rica coop. Libano CoE and one third of Dominican Republic Montaña Verde, roasted just into the first pops of second crack, rested about a week - it had a very appealing fruity acidity kick to a balanced smooth round body type with some edges and odds in the cup but very satisfying (if pulled right), or just in-your-face acidity (if pulled wrong). Walter told me it's a risk, and in retrospective I believe he was right. Not quite the italian taste of espresso that this years jury seemed to have been so fond of. I do like this blend this way, because I think when taking it a little darker it really loses what makes it shine, it gets a little rounder but also quite a bit more boring for me.

The other coffee I used for my signature drink was a Yemen Matari Mokha, a blend of two roast degrees: ca. 75% taken into second crack and 25% taken into rolling second. I wrote about this coffee before and it's stunning, different from everything else alas somehow a real archetype of a coffee. It's earthy, spicey, heavy, thick, and has very cool notes of wood and toasted wood that I really can't describe any better (Jan tastes blueberrys in there. I whish I had his tastebuds!). The second part of my signature 'drink' was a bit of chocolate - a Domori Puertomar, which is a single-estate single-varietal chocolate from Venezuela (if I read the description right - I don't know nothing when it's not about coffee) that had some really crazy fruitiness going on. So first chocolate, then the Matari, should set some cool fireworks of taste in your mouth - certainly did in mine!

I talked quite a bit I think I really messed that one up. For the signature drink to really work, you must have the chocolate about a minute before the coffee. So I told the judges they should have a bite while I prepared the shots - and then I had to redo a couple of shots because I messed up dosing, and it appearantly took ages for my mind to make itself up wether or not I should repull and whatnot. So they had the chocolate, waited, waited, and waited, and around twenty gazillion hours later had the espressos. Damnit.

So, the most important thing I learned last weekend: training. If I want to compete ever again, I need to get myself the time and possibility of constant training, especially the months before the competition. Four evenings on a two group are not enough. I may have the passion, but I don't have a two group nor the other ressources needed for training!

The same goes for cuptasting: If I ever want to win that competition (and I will! There, I said it!), I have to become much faster. Seven minutes for 'only' six right won't get me into the finals, whereas five minutes would have. Feels good.

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