Slater St Bench’s Devin Loong competes in first round of World Brewers Cup

Australia’s Devin Loong of Slater St Bench and the Bench Projects competed in the first day of the World Brewers Cup (WBrC) heats on 23 June.

Devin took the stage with confidence, despite a technical error with his music forcing him to commence his presentation without it.

He told the judges he wanted to “recreate” the amazing moment he tried a Panama Esmeralda Geisha coffee for the first time, and feel in love with coffee.

To bring back those same emotions he felt five years ago, Devin choose to use a Panama Esmeralda Noria Geisha, produced by the Peterson family at the Hacienda La Esmeralda farm.

This coffee was hand picked four months ago on 18 February for ultimate freshness. Small Batch in Melbourne roasted the coffee.

“What makes Noria even more amazing is the perfect combination of processing, my brew method and my brew water,” Devin told the judges. “Noria is a natural but unlike any natural I’ve ever tasted. It excedes my expectations with vibrant fruit and acidity.”

He then spoke about the need to remove expectations and preconceptions surrounding coffee tasting.

“I’m sure when you were told you were judging the Australian Brewers Cup Champion you must have pictured a tall, blond, tanned, surfy type. Right? I hope I’m a pleasant surprise,” he said to the judges. “Such similar situations happen in specialty coffee when we are told the coffee’s country of origin, variety and processing. We already start to create an expection of what it tastes like.”

For his routine, Devin used a V60 brew method, which consisted of 15 grams of coffee to 250 grams of water at a constant 97°C, agitating it vigorously to ensure all coffee grounds were saturated.

“Its impossible to overexact at this point because of the concentration gradient of coffee to water,” Devin said.

At the 30-second mark he added 250 grams of water in a controlled pour (counter-clockwise) to create a stable temperature mass and produce a consistent yield at 80°C.

To finish, he gave the brew a light stir to draw the grinds into the centre. His total brew time was 2.5 minutes.

“I love this brew method because it highlights the consistency and efficiency that’s a simiar way to what I use in my café,” he said.

To get his perfect brew water, Devin collaborated with Dr. Monika Fekete of the Australian Coffee Science Lab and Dr Christopher H. Hendon, author of the book Water for Coffee, to fully understand the effect of minerals in water and extraction.

His brew water had a total dissolved solids (TDS) reading of 190, pH of 8, general hardness of 150, and equal parts calcium and magnesium.

For his flavour profile, Devin told the judges to expect fresh blueberries in the aroma of this coffee, ripe stonefruits of white peach and nectarine, and a hint of elderflower

“Noria is really amazing because its aroma translates into a beautiful toffee finish,” he said. “In aftertaste [you get] raw sugar and a very clean finish. As the coffee cools all these flavours work in perfect synergy to create pristine balance in the cup.”

To conclude his presentation, Devin asked the judges to “focus” on the coffee.

“Leave behind any expectations or preconceptions, similar to the time when you first had that perfect filter coffee,” he said.

We wish Devin the best of luck. Fingers crossed that he can make it through to the next round.

To view the second day of first round performances, tune into LiveStream. To view Devin’s first round performance, see below.

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