Vermont Cup Tasters Preliminary Competitors (Photo: Patricia Trafton)
Competition Program (Photo: Patricia Trafton)
On the weekend of October 28th, we welcomed coffee professionals from near and far to the first major national coffee competition ever hosted in the state of Vermont. The US Coffee Championships Cup Tasters Preliminary is a test of palate refinement and confidence in discerning the differences between coffee flavor profiles. Competing in a Cup Tasters Preliminary is an exciting opportunity for coffee roasters, educators and baristas to gain recognition for their craft and represent their companies in the national spotlight. Plus it's an easy and fun entry point into the all-alluring world of coffee competitions.
Demi Mirsky, John Pang, Erica Jackson (Photo: Patricia Trafton)
Cupping tables replaced production stations at our roastery and The Soda Plant filled with excited spectators as 24 competitors rapidly sipped their way through five sets of brewed coffee in a sensory test of “triangulation.” Within the five sets of coffee, two cups are the same and one cup is an outlier, which must be identified by each competitor with speed and accuracy. The top three competitors receive a guaranteed spot in a Qualifying round, where they will compete again in hopes of continuing to the Championship Finals in 2023.
Magda Van Dusen, Lauras Ostendorff, Tara Edens, Will Shurtz, Nate Van Dusen (Photo: Patricia Trafton)
At Brio, our goal is to be vibrantly active in the local coffee community and to place Vermont on the map as a renowned destination for specialty coffee. Hosting the Preliminary competition and bringing the event to Vermont has been a dream come true. So many of Vermont’s specialty roasters were represented in the competition. Our very own Production Assistant Sean Coyne and Barista Andrew Shelley threw their hats in for their first competition ever! Over half of the Cup Tasters competitors traveled to Vermont for the first time for this event - showing up from as far as Kansas City, MO and Greenville, SC. Coffee folks are often as friendly as they are caffeinated. The atmosphere of the weekend was overwhelmingly celebratory over competitive in nature. Our good friend, Glitter Cat Barista Director of Positive Outcomes and Founding Partner of Ghost Town Oats, Eric Grimm, joined us as MC of the event, keeping the room filled with laughter and levity. We couldn't have asked for a more amazing MC (thank you Eric!!!).
Eric Grimm, Julien Langevin (Photo: Patricia Trafton)
Chi Sum Ngai, John Pang, Erica Jackson, Umeko Motoyoshi, Julien Langevin (Photo: Patricia Trafton)
On competition day one at the Cupping Tables, the team from Methodical Coffee out of Greenville, SC showed up in full force. Laura Ostendorff and Tara Edens immediately swept the board with five accurate cups each. Ostendorff placed with a time of 1:44s closely followed by Edens with 1:46s on the clock. Day two finished with an amazing effort by Tom Bomford of Black Fox Coffee from Brooklyn, NY with five cups in only 1:11s. From the Brio team, Sean placed 6th overall with four cups in 2:06s. In Sean’s words “Preparing for the competition gave me an opportunity to develop new ways to understand the coffees I was tasting and to connect with other community members over our shared experiences on the cupping table. Over the course of a month we ran through different combinations and strategies that always ended in smiles and laughs. I am glad to have had that experience.”
Tom Bomford and crowd (Photo: Patricia Trafton)
Nate Van Dusen (Photo: Patricia Trafton)
Our Production Manager and Assistant Brew Master of the competition Emily Bean was a solid force alongside Brio's cofounders Nate and Magda Van Dusen in executing the logistics of the competition. Emily adds “From a hosting perspective, the Cup Tasters’ Prelim was a smashing success. Between the many indispensable helping hands within the coffee community and the enthusiastic support of our local community, the energy all weekend was absolutely infectious, and as invigorating as the coffee. I made so many new friends and got to see old ones (not to mention some of the best karaoke performances I’ve ever seen.) I can’t thank my team or our competitors, sponsors, volunteers, and spectators enough.”
The Vermont USCC Cup Tasters Preliminary in Vermont was made possible by support from our generous sponsors: Oatly, Acme, Eight Ounce Coffee, Hotel Vermont, Hacienda La Minita, Venetian Ginger Ale, Brewista, GH Grinding & Brewing Solutions, Supergood, Northfield Savings Bank, and Democracy Creative.
Our local business friends also made the event extra special by contributing to door prizes and giveaways throughout the competition: Alice & the Magician, Alkame Co., American Flatbread, August First, Charlotte Dworshak, Dedalus, Pitchfork Pickle, Recycle Mo Savoure Soda, The Cafe Hot, Thirty Odd, and others.
Plus, we couldn't pull this event off without the group of amazing volunteers, who greeted everyone as they came through the door, helped brew coffee and what may have been the most important and technical aspect of the competition - expertly roll out the many many cups of coffee and place them in the correct order for the competitors. Thank you volunteers!!!
Volunteer with Acme cupping bowls (Photo: Patrica Trafton)
Emily Bean and volunteer (Photo: Patricia Trafton)
Carrier Roasting Company Team (Photo: Patricia Trafton)