'The Golden Bean', sounds like something out of the Willy Wonka realm doesn’t it? Or maybe 'Jack and the beanstalk'. No matter how it sounds, one thing is for certain. Its full of magic!
Run out of an airport hangar in the tiny rural NSW town of Port Macquarie, the awards don’t just aim to, they make the sometimes daunting world of coffee, accessible. From home brewers like you and me, to the biggest cafe chains in Australia, the environment gives off a festival vibe. More of a Splendour in the Grass feel, rather than Bluesfest, if you know what I mean.
With ten categories for legit / professional roasters and two for home brewers, this competition gives almost everyone a shot at gold. For everyday Sally and Sams, its not just the medals, but the chance to get their home brew judged at a national level, that gives the thrill.
With 1300 entrants and 200+ roasters in 2014, the competition is more than thriving. Rob, the director at Cafe Culture had this to say "like the wine industry with its many different tastes and origins, coffee runs a similar affair. This has resulted in a glorified award based cultural system that the broader public have tapped into"
In the end, The Golden Bean is a pretty simple, yet awesome concept. Bring a bunch of cool people, to a special and unique place, drink some amazing coffee and talk it out.
For those of you that would like a little further detail.
The competition essentially aims to target three aspects of coffee: sweetness, flavour and aftertaste. Thes entrants are split into 12 categories, that I've listed below and judged over a 4 day period. Judges have 2 intensive cupping sessions per day with a rotation system in place after tasting, to ensure fairness and accuracy in their assessments.
Category 1 Espresso (Short Black)
Category 2 Milk Based (Latte)
Category 3 Australian Grown (Milk Based)
Category 4 Organic (Espresso)
Category 5 Single Origin (Espresso)
Category 6 Decaffeinated (Milk Based)
Category 7 Pour Over Filter (Chemex)
Category 8 Pressed Filter (Espresso)
Category 9 Chain Store / Coffee Franchise (Espresso)
Category 10 Chain Store / Coffee Franchise (Milk Based)
Category 11 Home Roaster (Espresso)
Category 12 Home Roaster (Milk Based)
The awards are given in a tiered structure, that is a bronze, silver and gold medal for each category and then an overall winner. Trends have tended to show that winners don’t need to be excellent in one particular category to wear the crown, rather more consistent over all platforms. Hence the widespread endearment towards the prize.