The Finals judging of A Shot in the Dark, presented by Genio Roasters, took place yesterday at the Sevenoaks Trading Premier Training Campus in Johannesburg, where the TOP 10 coffee roasters in this year's competition were subjected to two challenges: Cupping and Blending.
The Sevenoaks Trading Premier Trading Campus.
The Cupping portion of the competition is the same as the first round - bringing out the best potential of a delicious Nicaraguan coffee from La Cueva del Tigre.
The Blending Challenge is unique to the Finals round, where each competitor has to roast and blend three specified coffees - Rwanda, Nicaragua and Burundi, to come up with the best blend for espresso.
Nico and Cuth getting ready to taste the cupping round.
The Top 10 Finalists had to submit their coffees along with Roasters notes describing to the judges their aims and their techniques in order to achieve the best possible flavour potential using the provided competition coffees.
The Judging panel, now in their fourth year of judging this competition, were Nicodemus Nabakwe, Cuth Bland, Mike McDonald and Matt Carter.
We spoke to Head Judge, Nicodemus Nabakwe about this year's competition:
"This year’s ASITD 2021 competition has highlighted how thriving our coffee industry is. It has been incredible to see newcomers hone their skills and challenge the old guard in battling it out to become SA’s Best Roaster with success in the first round." says Nico.
"This week, we had the opportunity to judge the finals blind where top 10 roasters battled it out. We had amazing roasts and the bar was set high from the first competitor to the last."
"My highlight of the finals took me back to my golden years as a barista", says Nico. "I was the distinguished barista where I had to pull espresso shots and judge at the same time. Pressure was on me to deliver, and I must say that it was such an amazing experience.
"The coffees tasted amazing and at some point, we had to deliberate for long during our calibration moments to give fair scores. Every coffee brought to us was a mastermind of great individuals who worked tirelessly in their efforts to earn bragging rights in SA’s coffee industry. We are proud of them all"
"It was also a great opportunity once again to work with an experienced team of professionals. Cuth Bland, Matt Carter and Michael MacDonald are awesome people we have in this industry. Their relentless attitude when called upon once again has showed us that we can achieve more when we work together."
Conferring over the scoresheets. Nico, Matt, Mike and Cuth.
"The team behind ASITD competition planning has achieved what we thought was difficult. In their respective capacities, they have created an atmosphere where everybody in the industry is valued regardless of their status. A big thank you to Mel and Iain, Carol Corlette, Paulien Swanepoel, Thoriso Mafisa, Shawn Cloete and all sponsors who played their part in making this a great achievement."
Nico, Mike and Thoriso.
"To all competitors, you have delivered and once again I can say thank you for giving me this opportunity to be your judge. You are special and play a big part in your roasteries. You are the reason why we wake up every morning and look forward to enjoying a delicious cup of coffee."
Cuth scoring the cupping round.
Matt cracks a smile and the coffee crust!
"There were quite a few standouts for me, " said Matt. "The quality of the coffee was exceptional, and the way these Finalists interpreted the best flavour potential of the coffee was very interesting, you could see the individuality coming through with each submission".
"The blending was also super interesting - how the competitors interpreted the rules around the challenge and the way they then combined the three different coffees to get a unique set of the flavours combining".
Head Judge, Nico.
Mike, in the zone!
The Flavour wheel.
The announcement of the winners will take place next Friday, 17th September at Creative Coffee Week from 14h30 - 15h30 and it will be LIVESTREAMED on Youtube. Subscribe to Coffee Magazine's youtube channel for notifications.