Our Head Roaster Eric Stone Advances to the Finals in Seattle!

Eric (third from left) in New Orleans with his fellow qualifiers. All will be competing in the finals at the 2018 U. S. Roaster Championships in Seattle in April.

We are fortunate and honored to have won a number of national awards in the past few years in coffee quality, roasting abilities, and company integrity: Good Food Awards, finalist in the U. S. Roaster Championships at SCAA, and Roast Magazine‘s 2017 Roaster of the Year.

Last week our head roaster Eric Stone went to New Orleans to compete the qualifying round of the 2018 U. S. Roaster Championships and he made the cut, along with 5 other folks. He will be traveling to Seattle for the finals in April as part of the Specialty Coffee of America’s annual convention.

Our head roaster, Eric Stone
Our head roaster, Eric Stone

Competing in coffee competitions has not only been a fun outlet for the Mudhouse team’s competitive spirit, but also a fantastic avenue for deepening our knowledge about coffee and the roasting process. The pressure to succeed has really encouraged the crew here at Mudhouse focus in on the minutia of our craft. Coffee being an ancient, yet ever evolving industry, requires a process of continual learning and ever expanding knowledge, a fact highlighted by the various challenges these competitions present.

In order to have success as competitors it is vital that we constantly question our beliefs about coffee, in particular our roasting process. For instance, the Specialty Coffee Association’s Roaster Championship allowed us to truly pick apart our roasting process at a microscopic level and narrow our scope of focus to the point where single degree changes in temperature, and seconds on the end of a roast, make all of the difference.

It also really helped open our eyes to the dramatic impacts origin information such as the density of a coffee, how big or small the beans are, and how the coffee is processed can have on the roasting process. We as a team have explored and learned so much since we began challenging ourselves through competitions and have really drawn in our collective focus. It is this focus that brings challenge, challenge that brings change and growth that allows us to operate at the tip of the spear in the coffee industry. However, with that being said, it is not only Mudhouse that is benefiting from this process; other roasters are experiencing the same thing, chasing the same goals. While we are competing against one another, we are also sharing ideas and exchanging knowledge, causing mutual growth, not only amongst each other, but the coffee industry as a whole. We are extremely lucky to have organizations like the Specialty Coffee Association, Good Food Awards, and Roast Magazine that put on these kinds of competitions.  They not only allow for recognition of companies hard work, but also foster the continued betterment of coffee.

Here’s our debrief with Eric after the semifinals in New Orleans:

“New Orleans was lots of fun. This was my third time competing in the SCAA Roasters Championship, however only my second time since they changed the competition a little bit. It used to be that you would just show up with your coffee at the national coffee convention and have it scored.

This has added a bit more weight and pressure to the competition. Instead of just being able to show up with something that tastes really good, you have to be able to demonstrate and explain your process.

My biggest challenge is the presentation component. Public speaking is what I’m focused on improving for the Seattle championship. My plan for nationals this year is to get my roast locked down right away then move onto saying my speech about a million times until it is flawless.”

Join us in wishing Eric good luck in April!

Eric (third from left) in New Orleans with his fellow qualifiers. All will be competing in the finals at the 2018 U. S. Roaster Championships in Seattle in April.
Eric (third from left) in New Orleans with his fellow qualifiers. All will be competing in the finals at the 2018 U. S. Roaster Championships in Seattle in April.