Sinwu Nam of Code Black Coffee has won the Australian Specialty Coffee Association (ASCA) Southern Region Cup Tasters Championship.
“It’s been hard to summarise what it means to win. I’m very excited,” says Sinwu.
Sinwu, who also goes by the name Shaun, won in a time of approximately seven minutes.
Jae Kim of St Ali placed second and Ning Chi Cheng placed third, in a hotly contested event with 30 competitors.
This was Sinwu’s second time competing in the ASCA competition. He last competed in the Western Australian Region Cup Tasters and returned to his home state competition to take out the title for the first time.
“I knew I had a good chance to win. I was very confident,” Sinwu says.
“I wanted to get involved in the Cup Tasters Competition to train my palate. My dream is to one day own my own green bean trading company, so training my palate and learning what would be good coffee to sell has been the reason I’ve practiced so much.”
With this year’s new Cup Taster’s sponsor Minas Hill supplying the coffee, Sinwu says he had to adjust to the high quality standard and focused on accuracy over time.
“I tried to make eight out of eight triangulations correct, which I did,” he says. “I found the flavour and aftertaste the hardest. I tried to find sweetness and acidity but when the coffees cooled down it was really hard to find. My approach was to taste each coffee two times before making my final decision.”
Sinwu says thanks to his team at Code Black, where he has been Senior Roaster for almost one year year, he had been practising with lots of Brazilian coffees.
“I have been training for this event for the past two-and-a-half years. Because of COVID, it’s been hard to get involved in competitions, so I’ve also been practising at home where I have a Mahlkonig EK43 grinder and a Breville coffee brewing machine. With this equipment, I get to practice every day – a $60 coffee machine has been a good investment,” Sinwu says.
“Luckily, I’ve had a lot of friends and fans in Australia that have constantly given me coffee at home to practice with as well, such as St Ali, Code Black and Dukes Coffee. In preparation for the competition I also gave up two things I really love – alcohol and spicy food.”
Sinwu will now put his focus to the ASCA Australian Cup Tasters Championship, taking place from 17 to 20 August at the Melbourne Meat Market in North Melbourne, Victoria.
He says he will continue to train his palate, focusing especially on identifying texture, which he says are his current weakness.
“Each coffee can have a similar flavour so I need to focus on texture and body of the coffee, which are the two things I still find difficult. When coffee is hot it’s really hard to find the body, so I need it to cool down, but then it’s a matter of time as well,” he says.
With just a month to go for nationals, Sinwu planned to celebrate his win with the two things he has missed most in the past fortnight – spicy food and beer – before focusing on his national preparation.
“I’ll keep working hard, who knows I might become a national champion. I will definitely try,” he says.