Battle of the Brewers Cup: Ireland 2017

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So I took a break from posting to try and focus my efforts on preparing for a competition that I decided to enter this April, called the Irish brewers cup. The competition is an SCA sponsored event with a focus on filter coffee, where competitors are required to brew three filter coffees for three sensory judges and accompany this with a ten minute presentation based on flavour note descriptions and origins. And while I was not entirely successful in my placement, I felt I should share my experience in case someone in the future decides to enter such a competition. I will discuss what I felt I did wrong and what I think I did really well, and what I would hope to improve on next year, if I decide to enter. First of all, it should be mentioned that I had no coaches for this event. I practiced and trained around my working shifts and in my free time, which many competitors are forced to do. In addition, there is not too much information given online by competitors about their experience and how they prepared, so my hope is that I can help someone in someway in the future.

First thing I would say, is that I decided to go ahead with this competition in February, but already by then I was researching my coffee and writing a first draft of a presentation. I chose a coffee from our shelf, I researched what I could on it's development, from farm level to production and roasting. With my coffee, I chose a washed Ethiopian called nitsu ruz that was produced by a company called Level Up, a subsidiary of 90 plus, and I made strict effort to focus on the coffee and not the competition. This was my first challenge. How do I discuss a product without mentioning the producer.

Regardless, with assistance from both my boss and my friends, I put together a script, a great receipe and some great info on this great coffee. My presentation I kept to 9 minutes and I focused on the flavour and not my life story. I read the rules to the event several times. And on this point you can never read enough.

Then how did I do? To be honest, I don't really know. I spoke for most of my presentation. I gave everything I had on this coffee. There were no slips, no moments of nervous silence, but still I did not place top six. But for some good reasons. And here they are

 

1. My presentation was too scripted.

In retrospect of my presentation, it was a bit too scripted. Learned lines with learned info. Of course. Some of this must be scripted. But I wanted to be as natural as possible, but by keeping it line to line as opposed to something from the heart, I perhaps came off a little more cold than I would love to have been. So next time, no script. I will have key points that I want to make and stick to it as a marker.

2. Not a strong team.

And this is not a criticism on anyone, but really , no act is successful with out management and support. Would your favorite football team really have any success without good teammates and a strong coach? It's the same for this. I failed to find myself a coach. Someone to come on a weekly basis as correct me on bad habits or movements, this silly things I say in my presentation, or even just on what I wear. That being said, the people who did have time to contribute, my bosses, a friend of mine who really knew how to play for extraction really did help and support when they could and for that I am grateful. But I am already hunting a proper coach for next years event. I will not make the mistake twice.

 

3. Not organized correctly.

I had an amazing water. It made my coffee so acidic. So bright and sweet it was delish. But I took it for granted that I could get the same products in Ireland. I turned up in Dublin without any distilled water to mix minerals too and unable to make up for this with bottled water from the shelf. This was my biggest mistake. My coffee didn't extract the same way with acqua panna the same way it did with third wave water and distilled water. So when you are going ahead with these things... organize. I thought of everything else, I had spare v60 I had spare servers, extra clothes, extra coffee everything I needed. Except my water.
So. There in three points I give my mistakes

That being said, it was a really fun experience, one that I would like to repeat. It pushed me beyond my comfort zone and forced me to act in a competitive manner. It also forced me to consider what I do in my day to day job and how I can make it better. If I was truthful, I would recommend everyone compete in some manner within their field. Go for that award or that funding. Always find new ways to challenge yourself and your peers.

I should close in saying thank you to whoever had time to help me. Even passing words and recommendations. It meant a lot considering how much work we all do. Next year we will do better.

 

Niall CurranComment