Republished with permission by Mike Perry, Klatch Roasting
One of the great things about the coffee industry is the friendships and relationships. Even though we all compete and strive for the perfect roast or espresso, we still work together and help each other out. Often we travel together and even buy lots of coffee together. One such person I do a lot of this with is my friend and co ‘Roaster of the Year’ Jeff Taylor of PT’s Coffee Roasting Co.. And that’s how this story starts. You see Jeff found these wonderful lots of Kenya and offered to share with myself and another friend, Chuck of Bird Rock Roasters.
- Just a note: This is a blog originally written and re-posted on our blog with permission from Mike Perry at Klatch Roasting. Originally I was going to write my own account of the friendly competition, but his blog really says it all and I’m sure I couldn’t have written anything better. So with his permission we decided to just post his blog. ~ Jeff Taylor
But like all real friends, we often joke, trash talk and challenge one another. And that’s where the bet was born. When the coffee arrived and everyone was cupping, Chuck came up with the idea of a Kenya Roast Competition and challenged Jeff and I to a roast off. The rules were simple, we would all roast the same Kenya lot to where we thought it was best, then submit to an impartial 3rd party to judge and pick a winner. For the judge we commissioned Ken Davids of CoffeeReview.com to evaluate and score the coffee. Ken is the Godfather of cuppers and his reputation is beyond reproach. The losers would have to pay the winners expenses plus drinks and dinner on a future origin trip.
And that’s when the friendly trash talking began and fun ensued. Jeff and I offered new comer Chuck tips on roasting, including the perfect “30-minute roast” and how to achieve the elusive “3rd crack”. Chuck, not to be outdone, said he could roast the beans just fine by “rubbing his hands together and tanning one bean at a time.” Jeff and I reminded Chuck we drink Blue Label, Johnny Walkers Top Shelf Scotch. Chuck reminded us how sweet it was going to be to beat not one but two ‘Roasters of the Year’. And I think that’s were Jeff and I started to wonder what we had gotten into. After all, he had nothing to lose and everything to gain. But the jabs continued anyway until finally we all sent our production roasts to Ken to pick a winner.
Then everyone became a bit quiet. It was no longer in our hands. Reality sinks in and we all became a bit nervous. Several days past, then a weekend, then most of the following week. Finally Chuck sent an email to Ken to inquire and Ken replied the decision was very tough, that he cupped two times, but he would give us results before the weekend. Late Friday at 4pm the email arrived and the decision had been made….. Klatch was the winner, but only by one point, 93 points to 92 for both Jeff and Chuck.
Now most people would think this would be the end of the fun and joking, that Jeff and Chuck would hide from their computer and phones, but that’s not how friends operate. Jeff was the first to see the email and call to tell me the results were up and he beat me by 5 points. After I saw the real results I emailed all to remind them both I drink Blue Label. Chuck said he took it easy on the old guys, Jeff made nick names for everyone, and the fun continued for another 50 emails. Already we are talking about the rematch.
Friendships and Relationships……gosh I love this business.
- MIKE PERRY
IN CONCLUSION (We are friends after all): After receiving the results from coffee review, we all agreed we wanted to cup the comparison for ourselves. We (PT’s) received the samples from Mike and Chuck on Thursday and immediately rushed to the cupping room, with our own adjusted roast profile version of the Kenya, to review the roasts and compare the samples. Naturally we had our Director of Quality Assurance, Maritza Taylor, set the table as a “double blind” cupping. Meaning, not one of the 6 people who would be involved in our in-house tasting would know which coffee was which. In the end, the winner was clear. PTs defeated both of the other roasters with a score of 93.5. All six or our cuppers agreed we were the victors! We like our results better. I think Mike should buy me a Blue Label instead or a Zacappa would do nicely!