NZSCA: it’s never too early

By Ria Lingad, Cerebos Gregg’s 2016 New Zealand Brewers Cup Champion.

Next year is fast approaching and it’s time to start thinking about competing in the 2017 coffee championships – if you haven’t already done so.
No one can testify this sentiment more than me. Last year I decided to compete in New Zealand’s Brewers Cup simply to take some of my basic brewing skills to the next level. At the same time I gained the opportunity to zestfully share good cups of coffee with other people.
Winning the NZ Brewers Cup provided the outlet I needed to exploit my creativity and travel through a quest of discovering new tastes and connect with people with similar passions.

Here are my top five reasons to compete in Brewers Cup:

1. You are forced to deeply understand basic concepts and build a solid foundation
Understanding and mastering the many variables in brewing takes time and practice. Systematically, practice for the Brewers Cup compulsory rounds using coffees of varying roast degrees and development.  It is as important to practice for the compulsory round as much as for the open service.

2: Practice and experience sharpen your taste buds
n When you accept taste is relative, that it is built upon taste experiences from when you are born, it opens a whole new dimension in understanding flavour and how ethnicity can influence your taste buds. Where we were raised or live, and our environment, plays a big part. In a competition like brewer’s cup where accuracy in describing taste is key, this poses a real challenge. There’s a lot of human element, such as ethnicity, at play.

3: Get to sweat the small stuff, at least in competition
Continual practice gets you to a point where the little things get noticed, reviewed, critiqued, overhauled, and eventually changed. Anyone who has competed on the world stage will know how important the minor details are. Consider breaking down score sheets in percentage rather than points, so you can see the weighting of each attribute and prioritise the high weight attributes in your presentation.

4: Meet amazing people as passionate as you
I have forged friendships that would never have happened if I’d not competed. From Tim Grocott, my cup maker, to Jose and Ailenne Gallardo, my coffee producers in Panama, and all the people I’ve met through this journey.  It’s an incredibly magical thing to connect through coffee and I’m fortunate to have met genuine people who went the extra mile to help out.

5: Springboard on other people’s experiences and learnings
n Reach out for help – more often than not, people are keen to offer a helping hand. Don’t even think about snobbery and rejection. We all need help and I would definitely make it my mission to assist competitors next year.

Why not listen to that voice inside your head and give it a go? Start your preparations now.

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Image credit: Dianne Jialei Wang

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