Photo thanks to The Sunday Club, http://thesundayclublondon.wordpress.com/

Apologies for the silence over the past couple of months.  My time has mostly been taken up with manning and attempting to develop the brew bar at Prufrock Coffee on Leather Lane (the new coffee shop opened earlier this year by Gwilym Davies and Jeremy Challender).  Anyway, more on that to come later.

Jumping to recent news, last weekend saw the first ever UK Brewer’s Cup take place at Prufrock.  This year bringing the first ever World Brewer’s Cup into being, the challenge was set to find someone to represent the UK at the World competition next week in Maastricht, Netherlands.  I decided to compete, with the goal of learning something and pushing myself out of the comforts of what I have learnt so far.

Round One:  Twenty competitors, one mystery coffee and brew method of your choice.  With fifteen minutes to play with the unknown coffee before taking the stage to brew 3 individual servings in a 7-minute timeframe,  I opted for a steep-and-filter method.  One thing I have learnt over the past six months, is that when working with something unfamiliar, simple is best. Cupping being the greatest way to uncover a coffee, it seemed like a good principle to follow – just needed an extra filtration so as not to serve up a cup full of sediment and grinds.  A bit of last-minute, late night playing and I decided to use a Chemex as the final filter.  Admittedly, cloth tasted much better with all the coffees I tried out, but practically, the shape of the Chemex and my rather foolish lack of planning made the decision for me.  It worked alright with the tasty El Salvador Finca La Fany roasted by James Gourmet, which we discovered at the end of the day to be the mystery coffee.

Not expecting to score too highly, I was pleasantly shocked and humbled to find myself in the final round.  Now though, a dilemma:  not being completely happy with the coffee I had chosen to brew.  The coffee sitting waiting for brewing was getting a little old, greens a while from harvest.  And next to it was a shiny new Rwandan Buremera Cup of Excellence which was delicious.  In the finals, during our 15-min prep time I dialled in the Plan A coffee.  Stepped up to the start of competition and decided at the last second to brew Rwanda instead.  Decided I was in it for the fun anyway, and would rather serve up something really tasty even if not perfectly brewed!

Nerves did get the better though, and fumbling through the presentation talk was not how I would really have liked to enter the finals.  Just another point to add to my “to-learn” list!

A lot of fun was had by everyone, a lot of intense learning too!  Huge congratulations to James Hoffmann who goes on to represent the UK at the World Finals in Maastricht.  Also worth trying to find footage of was 3rd Place Winner Sang Ho Park’s creative demonstration using simple, common kitchen towel to brew a pretty nice coffee.

Thanks to James Hoffmann, Gwilym Davies and Andrew Tolley for organising the event, and to the wonderful judges Grant Rattray, Lynsey Harley and Joanna Lawson – they endured a lot of coffees that day!

James put together a great highlights video of the day, which can be found here.

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