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.
What a day! The TOP 10 announcement of A Shot in the Dark presented by Genio Roasters was exhilarating and full of surprises. You can watch the entire announcement on the Instagram link below.
A huge "Thank You!" to all of the 50 Roasters that entered, to the Judges and the Sponsors and everyone involved in this incredible community coffee roasting event! We are so excited to see what this TOP 10 can do in the FINALS ROUND, with a new specialty coffee for cupping and the blending challenge for best espresso roast. The Finals judging and the A Shot in the Dark panel discussions will all happen at CREATIVE COFFEE WEEK, in Durban 15- 17th September.
Your Top 10 Finalists for A Shot in the Dark 2021:
1. The Black Sheep Coffee Co - Rory Lambson - 77.916
2. Beethoven Coffee Co - Trevor Fitz - 77,25
3. Tribe Coffee Roasting - Jake Easton & Team - 77,166
4. Toro - Ettienne Broodryk - 77,083
5. Scuro Coffee Crafts - Dwain Riccardo - 77,00
6. Gegrond - Frederik Dreyer - 76,75
7. Infood Coffee Roastery -- Percy Chikwira - 76,666
8. Cuppa Coffee - Marthinus Greyling - 76,083
9. Home Roaster - Jacques Strydom - 76,083
10. Favour & Grace Coffee Co - Werner Gous - 75,75
If you told me in March last year that we would live through 2 editions of A Shot in the Dark in lockdown, I would've laughed (albeit nervously) in disbelief. Well, here we are!
And you know what, if we've given these roasters a purpose and positive activity to focus on in this time, then our mission has been accomplished! Just look at the smiling faces below, getting stuck in to learning more about their craft, an amazing coffee and the SA roasting community! That makes us happy in the midst of all the turmoil this pandemic is putting everyone through.
We're tucking and rolling with the restrictions and the judging panel of Nicodemus Nabakwe, Cuth Bland and Matt Carter, ably assisted by support team at Sevenoaks Trading in their SCA cupping room will cup the coffees over the course of three days in a random order.
We caught up with our judges to hear how they're feeling about this year's competition.
"What I’ve tasted of this coffee, I’m excited to see what the competitors will make of it - it’s just complex enough to be a challenge but still be an accessible, tasty coffee. A great example of why Burundi coffee is being sought after across the world. And it’s always good to see independently owned and operated washings stations producing coffee if this quality."
Head Judge, Nicodemus Nabakwe
"Excited to be part of coffee professionals involved in ASITD 2021. From roasters, judges, sponsors and event organizers, this will be an exciting competition. I must reiterate that we chose Burundi as our event coffee because of its delectable taste, nuances and overall being an African coffee. I would like to wish all competitors the best. You know your roast so bring it on…. We are ready!"
"ASITD 2021! What an exciting time to be in the coffee industry. I am looking forward to tasting some of the best coffee’s roasted by some of the finest roasters in the world. With everything going on at the moment in the world, i am looking forward to a delicious distraction!"
The coffees have arrived in JHB and we couldn't be more excited !!!
Huge thanks to the positivity of the team that makes A Shot in the Dark possible! Genio Roasters, whose unfailing belief in the SA coffee community is truly inspiring! Sevenoaks Trading who are hosting the judging and are responsible for the delicious coffee in the preliminary round. BWT and Equipment Cafe who undertook to send perfect and standardised water across the country for all competitors. And Lizzard for the epic tees that make all our competitors fell like part of the Team!!!
Ok, listen up Roasters! Your A Shot in the Dark competition coffee is on its way!!!
We know you have all been chomping at the bit to get your hands on this coffee, but the wait is over now and all 49 competitors will be receiving their A Shot in the Dark packs via courier in the next few days.
Putting together this competition is a massive logistical exercise! Over 800kg of green competition coffee arrived at our offices, courtesy of Sevenoaks Trading, and we then have to re-pack it all into 5kg lots, insert all the ASITD goodies (tee-shirts, merchandise, stickers, competition coffee bag, courier bag and a few other odds and ends) then pack and ship them off!
We ate a lot of jelly babies, drank a lot of coffee, listened to the best 90s Rock Anthems and it took two full days, but it was totally worth it! We are so excited for this competition!
This is what our Coffee Mag office looked like this week!
This year we take the A Shot in the Dark competition up a level by providing each competitor with 10 litres of specifically made water for brewing coffee. This means that the coffee will be brewed using the same water at every level of the competition and the judges will taste the coffee exactly how the competitors brewed it in their own roasteries. We are only able to provide this because of the BWT Africa Team and their partners at Equipment Cafe. They will be sending each of our 46 competitors this amazing water to brew with. We met with the BWT team this week to talk logistics, and got to see the Reverse Osmosis and Remineralising counter top machine in action. These guys really know their stuff!
Coffee is 98% water! Nicodemus Nabakwe seen here at last year's judging session.
Why is the water element such a critical part of the competition?
Most of us think that “surely water is just water". Well, we are here to tell you that you this is not the case.The relationship between water and coffee is far more complex than most people realise. Considering that water typically comprises of more than 98% of filter coffee and 88-92% of espresso coffee, it is not surprising that the impact it has is bound to be huge.
The better the water, the better the taste of the coffee, and we know that coffee Is all about the smell and taste.
For previous competitions, competitors have just used a “supermarket” water - what is difference between that and the competition water that BWT is going to create for each competitor.
The disadvantages “supermarket” water present is inconsistency of water quality as well as the contribution to the coffee taste. BWT treats the water through a reverse osmosis which gets H2O in its purest form. We then remineralise the water with calcium and magnesium enough to meet the SCA Standards. We also believe it gives all competitors a fair chance with the same water quality that will be all bottled on the same day. Quality water supply does not only protect a valuable coffee machine, but it also allows the barista to brew tastiest cup of coffee. Why have normal water when you can have BWT Magnesium Water.
How do you “treat water”? Can you talk us through the process?
We basically treat all types of water that include ground and surface water, all the way to through to municipal water. Every type of water comes with different compositions, allowing us to have a vast range of technologies that can tackle it all. The previous question explains one of the technologies that BWT offers from domestic all the way through to industrial.
From a scientific POV - what is the ideal recipe that BWT is aiming for and why is this significant?
It is now well understood that the chemical characteristics of brewing water do influence the final coffee cupping experience.
The team of researchers have investigated what influence the ratio of alkaline-earth ions calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+) in water has on the sensory properties of coffee.
A statistically reliable flavour analysis (cupping panel) revealed a surprisingly clear picture: By shifting the mineral ratio in the water towards more magnesium (Mg2+), two important taste parameters change in the flavour parameters of the coffee extract: bitterness and astringency are decreased significantly.
The scientists' findings are highly consistent with the experience gained in practice by international baristas: magnesium-rich water ensures that balanced, full taste experience in coffee which roasters strive for in each of their different coffees. Less calcium, more magnesium in the water: the brew becomes less bitter and astringent.
BWT is well known in the coffee community in SA, having partnered with Equipment Cafe - tell us a bit about the relationship and why it works.
BWT has positioned themselves as a global player in the coffee industry and has swiftly moved into the South African market. Equipment Café represents international prominent brands and exposing them to the ever-growing coffee market in South Africa. This natural paved a way for BWT and Equipment Café to work together. This allows us to partner together and take part in growing the coffee community in SA.
This is the counter top unit that feeds coffee quality water directly into your espresso machine.
Is BWT just for coffee shops and coffee roasters or is BWT also for the home barista or coffee lover?
BWT Africa caters from household products such as water jugs that can be use for domestic coffee machines as well as home barista, reducing chlorine and smell. We offer coffee shops RO units that are compact and easy to install. The benefit of these products is that it allows coffee shops to treat their water at a higher capacity, removing unwanted chemicals that creates corrosion and scaling and introduces magnesium water to the coffee, which enhancing the taste of the coffee. In closing, BWT stands for Best Water Technology, and this is what we will always strive to achieve.
A Shot in the Dark 2021 - The Coffee
We have some very exciting news people! The official Shot in the Dark competition coffee is.....(drum roll please......!)
BURUNDI - GATUKUZA
Processing- Fully Washed and Sundried.
Altitude- 1600- 1800 masl.
Producer- 600 smallholder farmers families, processed at Gatukuza washing station.
Region- Gatukuza, Ngozi, Burundi.
Harvest period- March- July.
When Long Miles Coffee Project lost much of its 2019 harvest to spotty rain and a hailstorm that walloped cherry from coffee trees, it looked to local producers to elevate distinctive microlots. This is one of those gems. The all-Bourbon coffee was grown by farmers in northern Ngozi Province and processed at Gatukuza Washing Station, which is owned by Therence Nduwayezu. Normally, it would have gone into a larger blend, but Therence isolated the coffee based on quality. Winner of Burundi’s Cup of Excellence award in 2019, this unlikely prizewinner is crisp, juicy, and winsome with its lingering herbal finish.
Gatukuza washing station won the Cup Of Excellence in 2020.
Gatukuza washing station is named after the hill it’s built on. The word ‘Gatukuza’ comes from Kirundi, the local language spoken in Burundi, but has no distinct meaning or translation. For as long as people can remember, that’s what the hill has been called. The CWS was built just three months before its first harvest season in 2008. The same people who helped to clear the land and build the washing station now delivering their coffee cherries to it.
Gatukuza is nestled in the Gashikanwa commune, in the northern province of Ngozi. The people who call Gatukuza home grow almost everything they eat- bananas, potatoes, beans, maize, sweet potatoes, peas- wrapping the hill in every imaginable shade of green.
600 farmers from 8 neighbouring hills deliver the cherries to Gatukuza CWS. Therence, the owner of the washing station, and his team mapped out the regions that are far from the washing station or don’t have access to a nearby washing station. From the maps they picked 112 spots to set up cherry collection points in the coffee hills. The collection points shorten the distance farmers have to travel to deliver their coffee cherries.
While women make up only 20% of the producers who contributed to this coffee, they are without question the thread that holds coffee farming communities together in Burundi. They work incredibly hard- hand tilling the soil, growing, harvesting, sorting and hauling multiple crops- not just coffee. They often do it with a baby on their back or a child at their hip.
Gatukuza Coffee Washing Station is a branch of Ets NDUWAYEZU Therence, a self owner enterprise operating in Burundi with head office at Ngozi Cen- tral Market in commune and province Ngozi, exactly in SHIKIRO Quarter, Mubuga Street, Plot MA02.
The big branch of the group is Gatuku- za Coffee Washing Station which is located at Gatukuza village, in Gashi- kanwa commune , Ngozi Province. Its altitude is 1750m.
Since the opening of Gatukuza Coffee Washing Station in 2008, Ets NDUWAYEZU Therence is exporting common commercial coffee grades such : FWAA, FWA, FWB,FWTT, FWT and FW Triage ( FW= Fully Washed ) from a good coffee parchment depulped by Gatukuza Coffee Washing Station.
Gatukuza Coffee Washing Station is a big unit with a high coffee parchment production capacity due to its double system in every thing such double coffee depulper machines with eight discs each one, much drying tables etc…….
From the season 2013-2014,Gatukuza Coffee Washing Station has started producing specialty coffee FW 15+ Grade 1 and its aim is to produce more specialty coffee according to customers needs.
Total capability 96,000KGS of specialty green coffee and more according customers needs.
Other capability 384,000 KGS of ordinary commercial grades (FWAA,FWA,FWB,FWTT,FWT,FWTRIAGE)
Notes BURUNDI specialty coffee is of medium body. The taste is sometimes chocolaty ,other times cara- melly, sweety ,floral or of lemon or apple aroma
Description GATUKUZA COFFEE WASHING STATION is located at GATUKUZA Village, GASHIKANWA Municipality ( commune), NGOZI Province in north of BURUNDI. Most of the coffee depulped at GATUKUZA Coffee Washing Station come from villages which are near the station such GATUKUZA first and others like : KABAMBA,RUTANGA,RUHENGERI,MARURI ,GASHIKANWA and others.
All these villages are on an altitude of between 1750 meters and 1800meters above sea level. Around 1500 farmers sell their coffee cherries to GATUKUZA Coffee Washing Station and above 50% of these farmers are grouped in associations which at their turn are grouped in one confedera- tion named NKORERA NZOGUHEMBA.
On average, every one of these farmers owns about 300 coffee trees. In way to increase the production and with the help of BURUNDI coffee authorities and GATUKUZA Coffee Washing Station leader ,the farmers are improving their plantations by planting new coffee plants.
The Farmers who grew this year's A Shot in the Dark Coffee are:
PROJECT AGROPASTORAL MULTILOCALITE (PAPM)
IRAKOZE J MARIE
INDEPENDANCE M ROSE
NKURUNZIZA J MARIE
NTAKIRUTIMANA M ROSE
This coffee is proudly presented by Sevenoaks Trading.
And away we go! Entries have closed for 2021's A Shot in the Dark presented by Genio Roasters. We are so excited to reveal that we have 47 confirmed entries for this year's competition! Thank you to all the roasters who have put their names forward to compete despite the circumstances of the past year. We have will soon be able to reveal the INCREDIBLE Preliminary Round Coffee sponsored by Sevenoaks Trading and a full timeline of the events leading up to the First Round submission deadline.
It is the freshest possible crop and we are thrilled with the amazing work the Sevenoaks Team have done to secure this really exciting coffee that will both challenge and delight our competitors.
We're always so excited to scour this list and discover new coffee roasteries that we haven't tried yet, we encourage you to do the same!
Cuppa Coffee Roasters (Genio Wildcard entry!)
Jacques Strydom - Home Roaster
What a list! There are a few very stronger contenders from previous years - Father Coffee are back to defend their 2020 title, as are 1st and 2nd runners up Quaffee and Rosetta Roastery!
Other notable names include Bean There (previous winner in 2018!) Brothers and Routed Roasters (runners up 2019) and Top 10 finishers Highland Coffee Roasters, Gaansbaai, Scuro, Pause, Favour & Grace, Wings, Infood, Beethoven and Red Truck are all back in the hunt!
Then there are some very prestigious names in the coffee industry that are new to A Shot in the Dark, such as John Evans from Asmara Coffee, who has been a National Barista Competition finalist in recent years as well as Chang from Uncle Bear, who was Winston Thomas' sparring partner at WBC for two campaigns. Tribe are always a threat when they actually send their coffee in to be judged (lol!) , and of course a host of names that are always cropping up in coffee news such as Toro, Trinity, Black Sheep and the lifers, Stereo Cafe Coffee Roastery. Welcome back!
We are excited to get to know the newcomers - some roasteries like Roasters Mug are barely a year old, and hail from Dundee in Northern KZN (who knew Dundee would have a roastery!) and many more new names that we can't wait to get to know and interact with.
To all of you, good luck and let the games begin!
We put together a few FAQ's for the 4th Edition of A Shot in the Dark presented by Genio Roasters. So if you're thinking of entering or you want to know more about South Africa's premier roasting competition, have a look!