A brewing workshop with World Brewers Cup Champion 2014 Stefanos Domatiotis
Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend Stefanos Domatiotis’ from Taf Coffee brewing workshop in Basel organized by the Swiss Chapter of the SCAE. It was a tough day, quite overwhelming with information. Stefanos gave us all the tips and tricks of competing in a brewing championship. Which when you think about it had a lot of common sense in them. He started with explaining what is a competition – an event, often judged, at the end of which the best participant is elected. And in our case the participants earn points. So to win a brewing championship, you have to earn the most points.
For the people who does not know what this competition is about, I’ll just synthesize it. It is a brewing competition consisting of two rounds – compulsory service, where you are given a coffee to brew it the best way possible and open service where you have chosen the coffee and you brew it and present it to the judges, again the best way possible. The judges have to give points for the brew (aroma, flavor, aftertaste and so on), for the taste description – you have to describe what’s the taste of the coffee like to the judges (and they need to taste what you’re describing), and for overall impression.
So as I said, it is mostly about following the rules, Stefanos really stressed on that. He explained thoroughly how to get the most points from every section of the scoring sheets. But that was the easy part. When we put the rules aside for a moment you actually need three things to compete – coffee, water and story. Story – that’s the seed-to-cup information you’re going to present to the judges. Water – well 98% of your brew is water. You have to know your water’s mineral composition and how it affects the brew. You have to consider a lot of things when choosing the beans like variety, who’s going to roast it and the date of the competition. Why the date is important? Because coffee is a fruit, therefore it’s seasonal. So you have to think about it is your coffee going to be available during the actual competition. This is just one tiny detail to consider when choosing a coffee. Stefanos said that all specialty coffees are good for a competition, but only the sexy ones win. So it’s up to us to find a really sexy coffee.
Initially, the plan was the workshop to be four hours long, but it easily took up the whole day. Thank you Stefanos for the useful workshop! The information we learned is definitely going to come in handy!