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US Coffee Champs

Posted by Honor Forte on

Last week Olympia Coffee had the opportunity to once again compete in the qualifying competitions for the United States Coffee Championships in Denver. Since the competitions have been such an important part of the history of Olympia Coffee I wanted to take a moment to update you on our current involvement and how the weekend went.
First, a little history. Since 2011 Olympia Coffee has won numerous awards and top 6 spots in regional and national competitions - I think 15 total awards from memory? One time we won 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th all at the same brewers cup competition during the 2012 season. 2 years later we won 1st and 2nd in Brewers Cup in Los Angeles, and the next year we won 1st and 2nd in Barista Competition in Palm Springs. These awards and many others helped move Olympia Coffee from a small Olympia company to national wholesale roaster, and a far more highly respected regional roaster. Which is one of the reasons we continue to compete now.
This year we got a chance to support Reyna in Barista Competition, Jeremy at Brewer's Cup and Sam at Coffee in Good Spirits. Reyna presented espresso and a signature beverage to the judges based on Ricardo Ariz's Pacamara Natural and she collected a lot of points, showing mastery of some skills - even earning a rare "Extraordinary" score on her "Attenion to Details" category -something that is rare enough that it takes a US Head Judge to sign-off on before it can be recorded. Reyna landed at 36th place out of 60, which is great for a first year competitor, and her scores reflect that next year we should be poised to move into the top 10. Jeremy also did really well, landing middle of the pack serving the judges El Socorro Java. Jeremy's scores serving Java were excellent enough to move on to the US competition with ease, but compulsory coffee scores held us back this year. Compulsory coffee is a coffee they give you at the event, and with little time to prep you are scored on how quickly you can master an unknown coffee. This year it was not a very good coffee and was hard to get great scores from. Jeremy is also in a position to advance next year if he competes again. Lastly Sam competed in the brand new Coffee in Good Spirits competition and totally dominated, winning first place overall, beating all other competitors by a margin of 30 points. In these competitions, wins are usually secured with tenths of points, sometimes up to 10 points of difference - 30 points is far more uncommon and shows how much Sam has competed in the past.
We also had 2 judges at the events - myself and Tyler Meurk. We participated in a full day of calibration and training with leading coffee buyers, baristas, business owners and professionals from all over the industry. During that day we learned the rules, inside and out, to help score competitors in the barista competition and get calibrated with other judges on taste. This is one of my favorite things I get to do as a part of my job and helps us to calibrate with our industry and get a feel for what is happening around the country. It has made me a far better coffee professional and much more tuned in to our national coffee culture, which is why I have volunteered to judge every year since 2013.
Last thing I'm excited to mention is the progress we see at SCA events this year that further aligns them with our company. This was the first year where we got to attend an Implicit Bias training as a group to help us examine potential preferences or biasses we may employ through judging. This is a positive way to include more people in the upper levels of competition, but it's also a part of a bigger thing happening in SCA. There is a hard push to lower barriers to competing and encourage people of different backgrounds and identities to come out and compete - and succeed. This was also the first competition to include only gender neutral restrooms, another small step showing that SCA is an organization willing to progress forward with it's members.
This was a small competition but we'll continue to participate, especially as Sam competes at the US level in Kansas City next year. If you have interest in participating in the future reach out to Sam sometime soon! 

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