While we eagerly await the next stage in U.S. Coffee Competition, I decided to write a brief review of my experience of CoffeeChamps in Austin. Really, CoffeeChamps provided coffee enthusiasts the chance to completely geek out, and professionals to share their work: whether they were competing, presenting at a booth, or brewing up some coffee to share.
Most of the coffee professionals I spoke with were really excited to have competition in such a cool city like Austin, allowing them an opportunity to eat tacos and soak in the sun on their time off. They were also really impressed with the amount of home-brewers and enthusiasts (such as myself) present. This is most likely because this year, CoffeeChamps has emphasized participation from non-professionals, providing guest judge and volunteer opportunities. In addition, people in Austin do love specialty coffee.
The event was in a large auditorium with the competitions occurring along each side of the room with seats and standing areas to watch, while roaster and product booths were set up in the center. It was quite easy to walk around and watch a little bit of every competition and demonstration.
What most impressed me was a shot of espresso I tried from one of the barista competitors, Chelsea Rae. She brewed up a shot of Repetition Coffee’s (of Kansas City) Colombia/Cauca #4. This coffee placed 4th of 766 coffees entered into Cauca Best Cup. The shot of espresso instantly hit me with flavor and was a pure lemon bomb; the best shot of espresso I have ever had. I loved the sweet and citrusy flavors, and couldn’t help but ask more about this roaster. Chelsea was also so friendly and open to talking about her process in choosing coffee for competition.
I felt very lucky CoffeeChamps came to Austin this year, providing me the opportunity to speak with such talented and hard-working coffee professionals while witnessing the competition-hype firsthand.