What Is The Cup Tasters Championship?

You’ve mastered the pour, you can tell your arabica from your robusta and you’ve just invested in the best burr grinder money can buy but what on earth is the Cup Tasters Championship?!

To any passing observer this competition looks like a lot of slurping and cheering for those in the know. Here we’ll break down the rules so you can come along and cheer with all the industry pro’s at CUPS this November 9-10.

The Rules

Each competitor is presented with 8 sets of three bowls of coffee. Within each set is one coffee that is different to the other two. The difference in the first round could be a set with 2 coffees from Kenya and 1 from Ethiopia and as the competition gets harder in the Semi’s and Finals the difference could be 2 coffees from one lot in that Kenyan coffee farm and 1 from the same farm but a different lot. Eeeek!

It’s up to the competitor to identify the odd one out in each set in the quickest time possible. So where two competitors get 6 out of 8 sets correct, the competitor who finished all 8 of their sets in the quicker time will automatically be higher on the leader board.

The maximum time for each competitor is 8 minutes. The competitor must taste every coffee (they can’t just smell or look). They’ll push the one they believe to be the odd one out to the front of their competitor station.

Who Can Enter?

This competition attracts entrants from all areas of the coffee industry, from baristas to roasters to importers. Tasting coffee is a skill which unites all members of the coffee supply chain. Cup Tasters is a real chance for industry pro’s to flex those sensory muscles in front of their peers.

How Is It Judged?

The fun bit! Representatives from Speciality Coffee Association UK will be on hand to check each set one-by-one under the watchful eye of the audience.

Throughout 2019 regional heats have been taking place in London, Glasgow and Bristol in preparation for the Semi-Finals and Finals taking place this November 9-10 in Manchester.

The winner of the UK Cup Tasters Championship will head to represent the UK on the world stage in Warsaw, Poland in 2020.

Join us in November to watch the competition at CUPS — tickets available soon!

COMSA Come to Manchester – Tasting, Talks and Panel

Our pals at Heart and Graft have invited producers from a co-operative that they work with to come to Manchester. COMSA will travel from Honduras to visit Manchester, see where their coffee is being used and meet the thriving coffee scene in the city. 

There are two events happening next week during their visit. If you have the time then I highly recommend checking them both out!

Tuesday 11 July – 19:00 at Grindsmith Deansgate

Heart & Graft will host an evening panel discussion based on issues of sustainability in coffee trading. The panel will include Rodolfo (COMSA), Howard Barwick (Head Coffee Buyer, Bewleys UK), Holly Bowman (North Star Coffee, Leeds).

Provenance is a key part of coffee buying – this is a fantastic opportunity for the panellists and audience to dig into this idea of fair 'ethical' 'direct' trade of coffee, and what this actually means to the farmers whilst hearing from the farmers themselves!

Entry is free! You can sign up here.

Thursday 13 July – 18:00-22:00 at Heart & Graft

Heart & Graft will host a cupping event with a difference at their roastery – the main difference being that the farmers will be there to present their coffee! H&G will set up all sorts of interactive stuff so you can really dig into the elements that influence how coffee is grown and processed and how this is fundamental to its character and flavour. They’ll also be brewing and pulling shots…well, you will!

The cupping will be structured, and there will be a talk about COMSA's organic vision and how this contributes to flavour. However, they also want to leave lots of time for you to just hang out and socialise, brew coffee with the producers and chat to some awesome coffee brains, and ask all those questions you’ve always wanted to ask coffee farmers about!

This event is ticketed at £10 each and will include a bag of coffee. All the proceeds will go towards Team COMSA’s travel costs. Register here!

UK Barista Championship – Manchester Heat

We're honoured that SCA UK has chosen Manchester as a location for one of the regional UKBC heats this year. We're used to hosting the UK Cup Tasters at our annual festival in November so it's a pleasure to welcome SCA back to Manchester with more of their national competitions!

The UK Barista Championship is the UK's premier coffee competition and showcases current and innovative trends in the barista world. Each competitor will have fifteen minutes to produce three sets of four drinks, espresso's, milk beverages and a signature beverage. Set to music and with an accompanying presentation, each UKBC routine is a platform for new methods and tradition alike. 

The drinks are judged by two technical judges and four sensory judges who are all responsible for scoring the baristas in order to eventually identify the top twenty who will go through to the semi-finals this August.

You can catch the competition live at Ancoats Coffee during the daytime on Saturday 20th May. Entry for spectators is free to all and we wish the best of luck to everyone competing!

Address for Ancoats: 9, Royal Mills, 17 Redhill St, Manchester M4 5BA