U.S. Cup Tasters Championship: The All-Oatmeal Diet

Previous U.S. Cup Tasters Champ Ben Kaminsky cups through the table.

One of the coolest events to watch this week at the SCAA in Boston in the Activity Hall (where all the competitions will take place), IMHO, is going to be the U.S. Cup Tasters Championship. These folks are bonkers, and I mean that in the best possible way. The Cup Tasters Championship is about identifying coffees blind via a series of triangular tests. In each test, the competitors are presented with three cups of coffee, two of which are identical. The competitors must identify the odd cup out of the three. And the cupper competitor who identifies the most odd cups wins. In case of a tie, the competitor who identifies the odd cup the fastest wins.

Previous U.S. Cup Tasters Champ Ben Kaminsky cups through the table.

Previous U.S. Cup Tasters Champ Ben Kaminsky cups through the table.

So do you get why I love this competition? It’s fast and furious! It’s so exciting! These folks slurp through the three cups as fast as they can because they want to identify their cup first. But they also want to be right. It’s awesome!

The race to be first—and right.

The race to be first—and right.

I also love chatting with cuppers about how they’ve prepared for the competition, because you want to have the cleanest palate possible. Just ask any of the Cup of Excellence judges, you avoid spicy foods, you eat as blandly as possible, and you absolutely don’t drink alcohol or smoke. I remember talking to Casper Engel Rasmussen, one of the owners of the Coffee Collective in Denmark, and the winner of the World Cup Tasters Championship in 2008, how he prepared, and he said he ate nothing but oatmeal for a month prior to competition. That shizz is cray!

Be sure to plan to watch the U.S. Cup Tasters Championship this week in Boston. To make it easy for you, here’s the sched:

Thursday, April 11

12–12:10 p.m.:
Jordan Barber, Intelligentsia, NY
VS
Jon Ferguson, Dogwood, Minneapolis
VS
Samuel Demisse, Keffa Coffee, Nottingham, Penn.

1–1:10 p.m.:
Charles Babinksi, G&B, Los Angeles
VS
Chris Finch, Volcafe, Petaluma, Calif.
VS
Navin Sivakumar, Independent, Manilus, NY

2–2:10 p.m.:
Michael Callahan, Intelligentsia, Los Angeles
VS
Paul Massard, The Roasterie, Kansas City
VS
David Stallings, Blue Bottle, Brooklyn

3–3:10 p.m.:
Jeff Duggan, Portola Coffee, Costa Mesa, Calif.
VS
Liz Clark, Gimme!, Ithaca, NY
VS
Bill Guddeck, Wicked Joe, Brunswick, Maine

Friday, April 12

11–11:10 a.m.:
Erin McCarthy, Counter Culture, NY
VS
Andy Kwon, Elabrew, Los Angeles
VS
Andy Sprenger, Independent, Annapolis, Maryland

12–12:10 p.m.:
Anne Cooper, Dallis Bros., NY
VS
Wee Jin Chiew, Ceremony Coffee, Annapolis, Maryland
VS
Mark Inman, Olam Specialty Coffee, Sebastopol, Calif.

1–1:10 p.m.:
Matthew Swenson, Dallis Bros., NY
VS
Erin Wang, Molinos de Honduras, Danville, Calif.
VS
Camila Ramos, Panther Coffee, Miami

 

The semifinal AND final rounds will take place on Sunday, April 14. Here’s that sched:

12:30–12:40 p.m.: Semifinals Part 1

1:30–1:40 p.m.: Semifinals Part 2

2:30–2:40 p.m.: Finals!

 

See you there!

 

 

About the Author

Sarah

Sarah Allen is co-founder and editor of Barista Magazine, the international trade magazine for coffee professionals. A passionate advocate for baristas, quality, and the coffee community, Sarah has traveled widely to research stories, interact with readers, and present on a variety of topics affecting specialty coffee. She also loves animals, swimming, ice cream, and living in Portland, Oregon.