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A Shot in the Dark 2020: 5th & 4th Places

Wednesday, 29 July, 2020

On Day 3 of the big reveal we chatted to the incredible team from Sevenoaks Trading. 

When asked how they decided on the beautiful Guatemalan coffee (from Jesus Recinos of Vulcan Coffee) the roasters received in the Preliminary Round, Carol Corlett, head of the team, answered simply, "Because it's my favourite coffee!". From a woman who tastes amazing coffees from around the world on a daily basis, that is high praise indeed. Apart from the wonderful coffees, Guatemala proved the best origin country to visit because of the people and hospitality, "I lost my heart in Guatemala." (Don't you want to try this amazing coffee!!!)

Sevenoaks have got some exciting new Ethiopian coffees that have just arrived and some delicious offerings from Nicaragua are set to arrive in October, so get in touch with them ASAP!

We also chatted to Mike MacDonald who heads up the Cap Town branch of Sevenoaks Trading and has been part of the ASITD Judging Team since year One. He explained the evolution of the scoresheet and how his mind is constantly blown at what the roasters get out of these coffees!

Congratulations to the roasters who placed 4th and 5th!

4th: Favour & Grace - Werner Gous

How long have you been roasting coffee and how did you get into it?

10 months. I was a silent partner in an 'on the side' roastery where I observed the craft and later learned the craft through literature and other sources available. 

Why did you enter A Shot in the Dark?

There were nice prizes, haha. We took a shot 'in the dark' at competing against the best, and trusted that favour, grace would be displayed in our successes. 

What was it like to work with small quantities of these delicious coffees?

Challenging; with only a limited number of roasts, all variables could not be tested - so good planning, variable elimination and many cuppings was our go to solution. 

What was your biggest challenge and biggest lesson from this process?

Our biggest challenge was blending for an espresso and tasting 5 to 10 shots a session. Our biggest lesson was that you can't test all variables, so eliminate some early.  (Ed's Note: Favour & Grace scored the highest in the Espresso Blending round!)

5th: Highland Coffee Roastery - Chris Pefanis

How long have you been roasting coffee and how did you get into it?

I started late in 2009, after buying a bakery in Clarens and realising freshly roasted coffee would be a perfect compliment to fresh bread. 

I thought to myself, "I love coffee, so hard hard could this be?".

Little did I know that that would be the beginning of a continual learning experience, and that it was quite a bit more difficult than I initially suspected!

Why did you enter A Shot in the Dark?

Entering a competition is kind of a test of my abilities as a roaster. One can get a bit caught up in one's bubble, and it's helpful having an impartial test of your abilities.

What was it like to work with small quantities of these delicious coffees?

It's tricky to have a very limited quantity to work with. The pressure to get a good roast almost right from the first batch is high, especially when roasting on a larger roaster. My smallest batch I am comfortable roasting in my 5kg machine is 2kg, so the 10kg batch  gave me 4 test batches and 1 final to submit.

What was your biggest challenge and biggest lesson from this process?

The biggest challenge I think was the limited amount of greens supplied. Getting used to a new coffee is a trial and error process, so the margin of error is narrow. Light roasts are also always a bit of a challenge, especially when they're being judged! Refining my ability to roast a great light roast is my most important lesson learned.

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