The Coffee Tea Cacao Russian Expo was held in Moscow in mid-May. Workshop sessions, taste-offs, professional competitions for barista, roasters and tea brewers were the part of the event. In particular, the participants and judges of the "Roaster of the Year" championship were awarded. This year Yulia Semenova, a Q-grader, a product developer and our colleague, joined the panel of judges of the competition for the first time.
The national award "Roaster of the Year" means a competitive selection among the best experts of Russia on roasting coffee. The contest welcomes representatives of coffee producers, restaurants, and coffee houses. The championship is held remotely in part, that is, the participants receive raw materials in advance and provide a ready (roasted) product to the judges for the final cupping. 100 candidates compete against each other in two categories.
1 - Set Roast
The organizers send the same set of raw materials to the participants, provided by the sponsor. The main task is to roast the coffee so as to maximize the flavor potential of the coffee bean. This category allows the judges to compare a flavor of the same coffee roasted by different participants, based on different roasts.
2 - Improvised Roast
The participant chooses any type of coffee, roasts it according to their own roast style and sends it to the judges for assessment. The coffee bean can be selected from any area (Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Brazil, etc.)
Then a team of 10 judges meet for a cupping to evaluate two types of roasted coffee from each participant. There are a lot of authorized SCA trainers who successfully teach all over the world, Q-graders and other experts acknowledged in the coffee industry among them. Yulia participated as a judge for the first time, she was invited by representatives of the Rusteacoffee Association.
The judging was conducted in two stages. 26 out of 100 participants were to be selected in the first stage. Then the judges were to assess and select 6 finalists out of 26 participants in each category in the second stage. The judges tasted the coffee, described the taste roast, filled out a special report and scored points.
They had to taste several hundred cups of coffee every day! Each stage lasted three days. According to the report, each coffee sample should be brewed in five cups to eliminate taste defects due to any external factors, and evaluate it at three different temperatures. At each temperature, a judge evaluates certain characteristics of coffee (flavor, body, acidity, etc.) and scores points. On average, the judges tasted about 500 cups of coffee per day.
After the selection of the 26 finalists, the selection of the 6 best roasters followed the same way. The judging was as fair as possible, the samples were codified, so the judges did not see who was the author of the brewed coffee. Thus, they did not know who eactly won the award, since the points were calculated just before the winners were awarded at the Coffee Tea Cacao Russian Expo 2022.
"I used to be only a participant before, so that time I fully experienced the burden of responsibility that lies on the judges. It is important to abstract from everything unimportant at the moment and be as focused on the coffee taste as possible. You must not let external factors like mood or work anxiety distract you.
This championship is an invaluable experience for me. I have had the status of Q-grader since last year, and in this championship I worked side by side with my teachers and guys with whom I was trained. You must not let down the teacher who gave you the knowledge, you must prove that you are a good trainee", Yulia said.
For MAY, participation in this championship is also mission-critical and prestigious. We thereby confirm our expertise in the coffee. In the future, we may again be invited to the championships as judges, as well as to other events as experts. We play a prominent role in the coffee market. Few companies can boast of having many Q-graders, while we have 5 of them. Let alone the fact that we are seen as a tea company in the market. The status of Q-grader is not so easy to obtain, and the fact that we have successfully passed all the exams on the way to this title indicates the great potential and prospects of our company in the world of coffee.
*Specialty Coffee Association