For our National Brewers Champion, competing at the World Brewers Cup is all about the craft, the coffee, and striving to be worthy of representing the UAE coffee community. And competition, which has always been part of our core, is what drives us towards excellence and to always strive to be the best.
OLYMPICS OF COFFEE
Casually called the Olympics of Coffee, World Brewers Cup is the most prestigious competition for manual brewing and customer service. It’s an annual event that different countries take turns to host, along with the rest of the World Coffee Events. It started in 2011 with only six competitors and has since grown five-fold, attracting 30+ National Brewers Champions this year.
Each competitor vying for the world title performs two types of service, a Compulsory Service and an Open Service, both scored against exacting standards by certified World Coffee Championship judges — coffee people and sensory experts themselves.
In Compulsory, brewers are required to use the same whole bean coffee provided by the competition. This constraint emphasizes mastery of all the brewing variables, as the brewer is compelled to perform an unpracticed routine they can only tailor on the spot. In Open Service, while brewers use the coffee of their choice and would have had all prior opportunity to rehearse, the challenge is heightened by the need to accurately describe the sensory attributes of the final cup the judges should perceive.
In both, the ultimate goal of the competitor is to deliver an exceptional taste experience that is validated by the judges as such.
A PERSONAL CHALLENGE, AND PASSION FOR GREAT COFFEE AND THE CRAFT
Last December 2021, our very own David Disuanco joined the UAE National Brewers competition, arguably one of the toughest national coffee competitions in the world because of the well-experienced and well-informed coffee community composed of dedicated consumers and professionals. While he joined simply as a personal challenge to further his craft in brewing great coffee, he ended up taking home the top prize as National Brewers Champion. It was an achievement made possible by our access to Aurora, an Archers exclusive lot produced by Jamison Savage of Savage Coffees, and with rigorous training and practice guided by coach Kemal Risyad, Head Roaster at Archers.
This esteemed title granted us the opportunity to carry the UAE coffee community’s banner in WBrC, which was part of the Melbourne International Coffee Expo just this past September 2022. We will always take every chance to say that we are incredibly proud and truly grateful to have been able to represent the UAE on the world stage.
A MILESTONE FOR OUR COMMUNITY TO CELEBRATE
In case you missed it, UAE ranked 7th in the world! This was the first time we broke into the Top 10 and came quite close to the Final 6 since 2017, when the UAE first competed at WBrC.
We managed to make it that far with a lot of determination, what we believe to be the best coffee, and taking inspiration from our past and present National Champions across the different categories, most remarkably from current World Ibrik Champion, UAE National Barista Champion, and World Barista Semifinalist and 9th Overall, Mickay Ruazol-Recera, current UAE National Cup Tasters Champion Sulaiman Khamis Alalawi, and our longtime industry friend and former UAE National Barista Champion, Romeo Perello, also part of our coaching team.
NIRVANA AND A STELLAR SUPPORT SYSTEM
We took our preparation for the world stage notches higher than for the national. After all, the responsibility of representing the country we are all so fortunate to call our home far outweighs the prestige associated with it. We traveled to different coffee producing countries — Ethiopia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Rwanda, and Panama, where we finally found our WBrC coffee, Nirvana.
Colloquially, the word nirvana connotes a state of otherworldly bliss, not too far from our experience after tasting this Nitrogen Macerated Geisha produced by Jamison Savage of Finca Deborah, a natural rainforest paradise itself. That made the decision to use this coffee quite easy, because we felt and believed (and still do) that the ultimate taste experience can be brought about by a coffee that is clean, sweet, and vibrant, with high clarity of flavors. And this is exactly what the 2022 crop of Nirvana is. Kemal Risyad, competition coach and our head roaster, masterfully roasted Nirvana through a Roest Roasting machine.
To say our practice routine was rigorous would be a severe understatement. With the guidance of Kemal Risyad and Romeo Perello, two months were spent repeatedly running through and fine-tuning the routine for Open Service and the thought process for Compulsory. Mornings were for Open Service, and afternoons for Compulsory, every single day.
All this effort, the team’s hearts and minds, all focused on one goal, to represent the UAE well and win.
OUR BEST CUP FORWARD
On game day, we used a Hario Mugen dripper paired with a flat bed paper filter. Having spent countless hours configuring and refining the Open Service routine and the Compulsory thought process, we found this combination worked best for our technique called “Bypass Based on Roast.”
This is a technique that came alive because of our quest to always serve clean coffee with high clarity of flavors — no matter the roast level of the coffee a brewer has on hand, at any given moment. The key idea is to avoid over-extraction while intensifying the favorable attributes of the cup, which would then be balanced out through bypass, based on roast.
We think about it as a play among the parameters — temperature, grind size, a short ratio of 1:12, and a bypass of 20% brewing water for light roast, 30% for medium, and 40% for developed.
Applying this technique for our Open Service, we were able to present judges with our best cup of Nirvana. Aroma was of orange blossom, peach, and cherry. Flavor notes when hot were cherry, mango, and mandarin orange, and as it cooled down, included pineapple and blackberry. Aftertaste was long and sweet, with hints of blueberries and cacao nibs. Acidity was medium in intensity both when hot and cold, tartaric like grapes when hot and malic like mango as it cooled. Body was medium, and juicy while hot and really syrupy as it cooled.
Overall, it was a well-balanced cup with an upfront sweetness, delicate tartaric and malic acidity, and clear flavors that complemented the whole structure of our coffee.
Let us share with you the recipe we followed:17g of Nirvana : 204 ml of water
Medium fine grind size
88c of water
2:15 mins brew time
BACK AT WORK IN THE AFTERGLOW
Settled back in at the Roastery, David shared how he felt about the whole experience and what he thinks it means for our UAE coffee community.
In his characteristic laidback manner, he says “It was quite an experience. We placed high overall in the compulsory round and did great during the open service round allowing us to Rank 7th overall in this 2022 World Brewers Cup.”
Then all business, as Head of Marketing at Archers, he relates that this milestone sends a clear message that the UAE coffee community knows world-class quality, and that the UAE coffee industry is more than capable of serving its own requirements internally, while also having the capacity to serve the region and the rest of the world as well. Perhaps, a UAE or GCC-based home brewer or cafe owner can opt to try coffees from homegrown roasteries first before considering to take from elsewhere. Archers, for example, readily offers a wide range of different origins and flavor profiles, across cup scores and varieties, that are suitable for the intended brewing methods.
Endearingly modest, David closes our catch-up reminding us that, really, it has just been his great honor, and that he can only be thankful to have been entrusted by the SCA UAE with the great task of representing the UAE coffee community on the world stage.