Roasters' Challenge 2022
One of the highlights in October 2022 for us was having fun at the one and only specialty coffee roasting competition in Finland a.k.a Roasters' Challenge. The event was organized by Helsinki Coffee Week and it focuses on finding the best-tasting profile of the same coffee roasted by specialty coffee roasters all around Finland.
Each competitor receives 10 kg of mystery green coffee from Cafe Imports (just a black bag of green beans, no label, no text), and the goal is to make the best out of it. Each roaster then brings 1 kg of roasted coffee to the competition after a month of preparation, and the participants also act as judges to taste and score the coffee. The roaster whose coffee receives the highest points from others is the winner. This year, there were 17 roasters that took the challenge!
After signing up for the competition, my first guess was a washed Kenyan since the theme has been consistent with Kenyan coffee throughout the chain of events organized by Helsinki Coffee Week this year (the regional Aeropress Championship and the Finnish Moccamaster Championship). But when I opened the bag, the beans looked smaller and rounder than the Kenyan coffees that I have seen, so my guess changed to Ethiopian coffee. The aroma and appearance of the green coffee didn’t give any sense of a natural processed coffee so I was pretty sure it was a washed coffee. During the first test roast, it behaved similarly to some washed Ethiopian coffees that I have roasted. There was a lighter line in the middle of the bean, which usually translates into “I am a washed coffee”, says the bean. More on this topic in later blog posts.
Since we have a Probat sample roaster with a capacity of 100g/batch, it is very convenient to do as many test roasts as I could to find the one that suits my taste the most. So, I tested with 8 roast profiles, and each of them differed slightly from the other. One of them stood out on the cupping table and it was chosen for the competition. We were ready!
On the evaluation day, 17 roasters brought 1kg of their roasted coffee to the venue for the organizer to prepare. Before the actual evaluation, we went through a round of calibration cupping. The point is to help everyone find out what is considered a good cup and what are the possible roast defects. During the evaluation cupping, there were 17 different cups of the same coffee (same green bean, different roasting equipment and styles of course), and each roaster/cupper went through every single one of them (without knowing which cup belongs to whom) to taste, score and rank according to the event’s cupping form/scoring sheet. Basically, each coffee was judged based on 5 elements: flavour, sweetness (x2 points), acidity, body, and aftertaste. Sweetness is given more attention because it is a desired trait of good coffee (according to specialty coffee standards).
After all the rankings from the participants were gathered and points were calculated by the organizer, we had the result of the top 3 coffee roasters from Roasters’ Challenge 2022. Huge congratulations to:
- Espoon Kahvipaahtimo
- Sample Coffee
- Good Life Coffee
Roasters' Challenge is an amazing opportunity for roasters around Finland to be in the same room to talk coffee, network, catch up with old friends and make new ones. Moreover, it gives roasters learning experiences to approach a new coffee and most importantly have fun with the process.
Oh! I almost forget to tell you what was the mystery coffee. Well, this year’s Roasters’ Challenge coffee was a washed Ethiopian coffee from Kayon Mountain Farm in Guji, brought to us by Cafe Imports.
And last but not least, many thanks to Helsinki Coffee Week (organizer), ROST (host) and Cafe Imports (sponsor) for making this happen for the 3rd time.
Until next time!
- Long Nguyen -