This past weekend (March 14 – March 17), our head roaster, Eric Stone, was in Kansas City, Missouri competing in the United States Roaster Championship. The U.S. Coffee Championships consists of three competitions: the U.S. CoffeeChamps Preliminaries, the U.S. CoffeeChamps Qualifying Events, and the U.S. Coffee Championships. These competitions are an amazing opportunity for us at Mudhouse to learn how 200+ coffee professionals across the country are innovating. This was Eric’s fourth time competing in the national championship. He’s consistently made the cut in the qualifying rounds to advance to nationals and has placed in the top seven at finals each year. Eric was awarded with 6th place this time around. We can’t wait to see how he does next year!
Here’s what Eric has to say about his experience at the U.S. Coffee Championships 2019:
Every year the competition has completely changed, bringing both different formats and new rulesets to each stage. In my first year competing I placed 3rd in the country. That year we simply had to submit a coffee of our own choosing to be blindly evaluated. Since then presentations and multiple rounds of roasting have been added to the challenge, making for a fun and more active environment. This year, in order to make it to the final stage of competition, you first had to place in a qualifying event in Nashville, TN or Denver, CO. From there 12 finalists were selected to compete in the Championship.
This past weekend was like no other final stage before it. All competitors had to demonstrate they had the full skill set of a professional coffee roaster. Beginning with the “sample roasting” stage, all roasters were given 30 minutes on a very small 500g (close to 1 lbs) roasting machine to roast a small sample of the provided competition coffee. This sample was then to be used by the roaster to determine how they wanted to roast their final batch and what flavor and other characteristics they wanted to achieve in the brewed cup.
From there all roasters were asked to demonstrate their knowledge of green bean coffee (coffee before it is roasted) by sorting it by bean size, recording moisture and density levels, and by sorting out any defective beans. Using all of the information they had gained from the sample roast and green evaluation, each roaster had 30 minutes to roast a batch of coffee that would be tasted and scored by judges the following morning. When it was all said and done I took home 6th amongst a field of the best coffee roasters in the country!