Frankie Shi wins 2024 Australian Cup Tasters Championship

Frankie Shi

Frankie Shi from Infinity Coffee Roasters has won his first ASCA Australian Cup Tasters Championship, 11 years after he first began competing.

“I feel unbelievable,” Frankie tells BeanScene. “I’ve put in a lot of effort and time into this, and in the end, I was able to do my best.”

Simwu Nam of Take Two Bagels finished second, and Ohkyung Kwon finished in third place.

The national competition took place at The Wool Mill in Brunswick East from 19 to 23 February.

Speed and accuracy were key to advancing to the next round. Competitors face eight sets of three triangulations of coffee, supplied thanks to Minas Hill Coffee. The goal in this event, is to identify the outlier from each set. The finalists were ranked by the correct number of outliers. The finishing time served as the tiebreaker.

Frankie and Simwu correctly guessed all eight sets in the final round, with Frankie finishing in the faster time of 4:29 seconds.

“I thought the final was a lot harder than the semi-finals,” Frankie says. “Sets three and seven had me really worried.”

Frankie says it was important to stick to his routine, and trust in his experience.

“I ran through all 24 cups, then took some time to figure out which ones were harder than the others,” he says. “I just had to dig in to find the real flavour difference.”

Frankie credits his lengthy competition preparation for helping him get him over the line. He experimented by tasting single origin samples and blends on a regular basis.

“I tried to do four or five rounds at least five days a week, with some weekends put into it as well,” he says.

After competing for more than a decade without a victory in the Cup Tasters category, Frankie wasn’t confident he had a chance of winning until the final results were revealed. As competitors lifted each chosen cup to see if it had the identifying mark on the bottom, the realisation of winning set in.

“It wasn’t until I lifted the seventh cup that I felt like I could win,” Franke says. “When I saw it was correct, that’s when I knew.”

Frankie’s attention now shifts to the 2024 World Cup Tasting Championship, taking place at the Specialty Coffee Expo in Chicago from 12 to 14 April.

“I’m looking forward to making Australia proud,” he says.

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