This year I can finally participate in something that’s been a dream of mine since I started working with coffee in 2017 and getting certified by the SCA… Corona has been forcing the competition to be postponed. I was going to first volunteer and help others participate, but I’ve decided to just dive in.
At the preliminary, you have to brew 3 cups of an unknown coffee bean in 15 minutes using your preferred brew method. You receive the beans on the day of your round and you get 30 minutes in advance to determine your best recipe using the beans provided, water present and a grinder to use.
The preliminary is held at Alleborgh coffee in Almere, a well known espresso machine dealer, who has a backoffice practice floor where you can setup. They’ve been cooperating with SCA Nederland forever, as far as I know.
Not knowing the water used and using a guest grinder is an extra complication. Baristas know their own equipment in and out and can fine-tune results often instantly to compensate for dinner ad-hoc deviation
I’m going to double check the requirements again before Tuesday Feb 22nd, when I’m scheduled to go on stage, but I believe you get 15 minutes total time and can use 8 minutes to set up and 7 minutes to produce 3 cups of 180 grams of coffee liquid.
I also learned that you’ll get 15 min additional time familiarize yourself with the grinder (a mahlkonig EK43 🥰) and can bring your own coffee to achieve the grind size you’re set on using. There are tools to help with this task, such as a Kruve sieve or a ruler that indicates particle size, but I don’t have those yet. Maybe if I make the finals…
This is not that hard at all but the complexity increases because you kinda have to brew 3 batches of coffee in parallel and start the 2nd while you’re still brewing the first. This is where timing gets tricky and routine is crucial!
The coffees are judged on flavors, taste and consistency by a professional jury who’ve sampled the same coffee for themselves, so they know what’s possible to achieve. In a way, it’s whoever is closest to what they achieved wins.