There are barista competitions that get a lot of press because consumers are interested in fancy coffee drinks, perfectly poured lattes and a little bit of flair that goes in to giving a customer a good experience. But tasting coffee comes before making coffee, and professional coffee tasters have their own championships, too. The U.S Cup Tasters Championship, held in Boston this past weekend, was a relatively low profile event by contrast. The event featured importers and buyers who pick out some of the best coffee beans in word competing to see whose palate was the best.
The two dozen competitors – from all over the country – had to taste eight three-cup sets of coffee and identify the odd one out in each set. “Some cups are so similar they come from the same region but from a different farm,” according the the Wall Street Journal. At the end of the day, one taster rose above the rest with a perfect score and a time that was nearly twice as fast as her closest rival, 26-year old Erin Wang, of ED&F Man unit Volcafe. Wang will be representing the US in the World Cup Tasters Championship in Nice, France, in June.
You really do need to be a pro to compete, but there are plenty of ways to practice by developing your own palate. Tasting coffees from the same or similar regions and comparing the differences – just like with wine tasting – will help you fine tune your palate for picking up those differences from one cup to the next.