Now that’s a competition! The back to the basics theme really got things started this morning with a very cool competition unlike any I’ve ever seen. And in an interesting twist, the attendees joined the teams in the challenge: build a primitive roaster and grinder, and roast and grind coffee.
The teams were given a stack of materials (and a student engineer from the University of Iceland), and the task of building a grinder and roaster. They had to assemble, without the assistance of any instructions (though you can see them here) a working roaster and a grinder (which used sandpaper to grind the coffee).
Then given a sack of green coffee the teams had to figure out the best roast profile and the best grind for the coffee, prepare it, and serve it to the judges. They had 3 hours to get it all done.
Every team got their machines built and delivered a drinkable sample for the judges. The word “interesting” was the most frequently used to describe the result. You can draw your own inferences from that about how good the coffee tasted. We then had a lunch break featuring a lovely typically Icelandic cod casserole and rye bread.
Afterwards we were able to clear our palate with a locally brewed coffee beer. The owner of the nearby brewery created four different coffee beers (he met one of the NBC organizers Sonja Grant at a party earlier this year and was intrigued by the NBC event). Each beer featured a different coffee and the teams were challenged to identify the country of origin for the coffees. Attendees were challenged to drink as many of the beers as they could. And the event featured a guest team composed of the judges to see if they could outperform the national teams.
Following that it was time for a second go round with the aeropress. The teams were given 10 minutes to develop a recipe, then five minutes to prepare and serve as many cups as possible. As the rain poured down (temperatures are in the 40s now with rain consistently increasing throughout the day), the teams worked without pause (and many were drenched by the end).
Spirits, however, are not dampened, and now we all take a break to warm up and enjoy a little rest. Afterwards, we’re going swimming… um, what?