What happened in Australian Coffee Roasting Championship? Part 1
This time I wanted to challenge myself...
It’s been 4 months since the competition. I am so honored that I won the title of Australian Coffee Roasting Championship. Many people have asked me how this happened so here it is.
The Preliminary Round
In October last year, I saw an invitation to a roasting competition. It was my first coffee competition ever. A part of me thought, I don’t need to prove my skills but another part of me was just scared to lose. Competing isn’t just about winning and losing but, I knew it was a big part. Maybe, this was the reason I didn’t participate in one.
This time I wanted to challenge myself regardless of winning or losing. I wanted to go out of my comfort zone and be open to criticism from professional judges. So I looked up the ASCA website and set the date. Only 20 tickets were available to enter and they sold-out within a few hours. I was one of the lucky ones.
A few weeks later, 3kg of green bean coffee beans arrived in my apartment. There was no description of the coffee. Each competitor received 3kg of green coffee and had to return 500g of roasted coffee. 6 roasters would be selected to move into a national competition.
The green coffee had a yellowish color, was large and smelt fruity. From this, I guessed the coffee was natural process Pacamarra variety from Central America, perhaps Guatemala. 3kg isn’t a lot of coffee. I am used to roasting on Diedrich CR model that normally handles 25kg, but I had access to a smaller model made for 1kg batches. I knew that I could get a good result with a 200g roast. This would give me 15 batches to experiment with.
The due date was in four weeks and I had already booked a Christmas holiday overseas for 3 weeks, which meant I only had 3 days to complete the roast and submit it. It was a bit of pressure, but I came up with an interesting experiment. I separated three kilograms of coffee by screen sizes from 14, 15, 16, 17,18, 19, and 20. My hypothesis was that roasting the beans of uniform screen size together would result in even roast development, thus cleaner and sweeter tasting coffee. I was also curious to see the taste difference in each screen size. This method is not practical for everyday production, but could work for only three kilos.
I tasted them straight after the roasts, and the results were fascinating.
The bigger beans pronounced tropical fruit notes and rich mouthfeel. On the other hand, smaller beans were juicier, brighter and had a cleaner finish. Particularly, screen size 15 was the juiciest, and screen size 19 was the sweetest and fruitiest of all. So l I decided to combine 2 parts of screen size 15 and 1 part of screen size 19 to make up the 500g. I vacuum-sealed it in a plain white bag and sent it to the judges.
At this stage, I had done everything I could, and I was ready to enjoy my break ;)