Brewers Cup afterthought

The competition day.

I didn't know what to expect when I arrived at the Square Mile. My friends were late. Briefing barely explained what was going on. But somehow I was very chilled.

Prep time
I started with my coffee. I found the grind size relatively quickly. I brewed twice, established a recipe and noted down taste notes. I'm not sure if I pushed it hard enough, but the clock was ticking. Marginal gains were not an option.

Compulsory coffee. Up the dose, lower the temperature and hope for the best. It didn't taste bad, even seemed to be better than what I had trained with before.

Open service
Quick and easy setup. Positive attitude. Friends watching. My music plugged in. Everything was perfect.

Maxwell approached me to clarify pronounciation of my name. We had a quick chat to loosen the stress. I genuinely started to like him. That's how you make friends a minute before the competition.

Just after the setup time I've realised the cups are not aligned with judges' chairs. I was about to correct it, but it was not allowed. Allright, forget about it.


Hello. Good luck. Thank you.

Can I get my music on please?

Forgot to start my kettle. My first brew started after 3 minutes. Not ideal when I brew one by one. But I kept non-judgemental attitude.

Third jar with predosed coffee was overdosed, even though I decided to dose them exactly 15 grams. I love you Hario... Try go get the excessive grounds from the dripper. I felt pressure as my kettle had already boiled and my hands were shaking. Spilled coffee grounds. I felt shadow judge's breath on my back. Being afraid to mess with my scales I decided not to wipe it. I was short on time.

From then I felt a bit stressed. But I relaxed somewhere mid-brew, I've even focused enough to hit exactly 250 ml of brewing water. Not too bad.

Timer reports 5 min left and I didn't even started my second brew. Moment of confusion. I said "thank you" and came back to talking about resting on bodegas. I guess that's when I started rushing a little bit. 27 s bloom. Pouring time 6 s shorter than intended. 249 ml brewing water. Marginal time gains.

I was definitely too late with my third brew. Ran out of things to say, started improvising - at least I'm good at it. Rushed the brew. Only 43 s of pouring instead of 70. I hit 255ml of brewing water. Shit! I took V60 off before it stopped dripping. 5 seconds to go.

It was a pleasure to serve you. Thank you. Time!


Lost 4 points on time. I didn't even want to think about fucked up brewing.

I felt happy. That was good. No matter the mistakes.

Compulsory round
The previous competitor had just had a freak out, because of the grind size. I made a choice to go courser than in prep time. Probably it didn't help me at all.

I set up as quickly as possible and spent the rest of my time sorting out the beans. All I could really do. I ground a 100g of sorted coffee during my competition time. Again, I was short on time. I was dosing brewers while pouring. It felt like being behind the bar at the peak time.

Anyway I managed to brew and serve all 3 in time.

Coffee beds were extremely uneven. I still don't understand how all of them scored exactly so uniform

Scoresheets and feedback
I got 60,84 in Open Service and 62 in Compulsory Service. Unpredictable.

The feedback I got after the competition is the best thing around the whole experience. I was approached by Head Judge Jeremy Challender. That was the most valuable 20 min of a past couple of months for me. Much appreciated.


1. Read through rules more - I understood many points AFTER the competition. Simply because I have something to relate to.  I could understand more BEFORE the competition.

2. Crowdsource - ask people for everything, try, make them taste your coffee. I didn't have a big panel of tasters before the competition. That could be a reason for losing points in flavour description.

3. Have spare stuff - one of my cups was cracked. I didn't notice that until I got my cups back from Judges' room, but it was already on the scoresheets. 

4. Get a habit of starting the kettle immediately - I'm pretty sure I would get my coffee scored higher and didn't get time penalty.

5. Be specific on all attributes - medium juicy body is not enough.

6. Link more information to the cup - varietal, fermentation etc.

7. Be more engaging mid-presentation - strong opening is not enough.

8. Wipe those coffee grounds no matter what - earning 4-6 points in service that would take less than 5 s (3 points penalty if overtime).

9. Don't rely on one technique - in the Compulsory Round I didn't have time for the same continous pour as in Open Service.

And most importantly

10. Get serious straight away - at first I just wanted to see how the competition looks like, learn something, do it on budget. But 3 weeks before the competition it has changed. I didn't care about money, performance at work or social life.  I wanted to perform really well. Mindset is crucial. Get it right asap!

I have achieved my primary competition goal: being able to brew 3 brews while talking about coffee and brewing with confidence.

I didn't get as consistent with brew ratio and TDS as I'd like to.

Of course I didn't get to another round, but it was less of a goal than an ambition.

From this place I'd like to thank everyone who helped and supported me along the way. In particular other TSB competitors, Lisa-Laura, Diana, Kuba, Jokubas; Andrew and Roosa for feedback and Jamie for roasting the coffee. Thanks a lot!

All these beautiful pictures by @allthesinglelattes and @superdorii


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