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by Alex Stoffregen –


I recently had the opportunity to compete in the 2016 US Brewers Cup national coffee championship in Atlanta, Georgia. In this contest, baristas manually brew three cups of coffee in 10 minutes, while talking to the judges about the choices made in sourcing, roasting and brewing the selected coffee.

This was my first year competing in the Brewers Cup, but Atlanta wasn’t my first time brewing in front of judges. I first competed in Kansas City earlier this year in a qualifying round before advancing to the national competition. In Kansas City, I was accompanied by Tamara from the Coffee House, Erin from Beans and Bagels, Helena from River Rock Coffee and Daniel from Mars Café—all of us competing in the US Barista Championship or Brewers Cup. Competing is great, because it gives you the ability to really focus in on one coffee in detail and learn all about the variables involved in making it great. You focus on manipulating variables in roasting and brewing until you achieve a fleeting moment of satisfaction with the cup’s quality.

I advanced to Brewers Cup using our Ethiopian Worka, which was tasting delicious. But for Brewers Cup, I switched to a fresh crop coffee from Boquete, Panama. The farm that grew this coffee is called Hacienda La Esmeralda. They became famous in 2004 for submitting the world’s first taste of the Gesha varietal to the Taste of Panama Cupping Competition. This variety is known for its intense sweetness and delicate florality, which is similar to what you would find in a really good Yirgacheffe.

Since then, the Gesha varietal has been planted all over the world and has continued to gain a reputation for cup quality. Hacienda La Esmeralda has won 15 international prizes for this coffee in the past 10 years.

If you live in Milwaukee, or are just passing through, for a limited time, our Kickapoo Café in the Historic Third Ward (232 E. Erie St.) will be serving this coffee. We hope you stop in to say “hi” to Scott and taste it!