Tom Kuyken, Brewers Cup Contender

Despite being a small team here at CCS, we are in fact members of a much larger family including the roastery Kaffa, online coffee suppliers Kaffa Butikk, and the cafés Java and Mocca. The first three companies share a space in the former Luxo lamp factory in Oslo, and baristas from the cafés often join us for training with Head Barista, Tom Kuyken. 

We have seen quite a bit of Tom lately as he is using the space here to train for the upcoming Norwegian national Brewers Cup in Kristiansand. With only 3 days to go before the March 8 competition, Tom is doing little else. 

Tom performs a cocktail-worthy move while a Luxo lamp looks on. 

Tom performs a cocktail-worthy move while a Luxo lamp looks on. 

Preparing for the Brewer's Cup

Those in the coffee industry who have competed in this, or any, competition know well how much work goes into the preparation. Tom has invested hours of his time, choosing the right brewing device, training with his coaches Rune Åldstedt and Lise Marie Rømo, of Kaffa Butikk and Kaffa respectively, practicing his presentation, brewing, brewing, brewing, and selecting the right cups to serve the coffee. Tom consulted a ceramics expert on the best vessels to present and enjoy his chosen coffee, and decided on elegant and unique porcelain cups from MK Ceramics in Copenhagen. “An exquisite coffee is made more exquisite when served in a beautiful cup,” Tom said. 

Tom’s challenge is a big one. He will be up against a coffee professional who has dominated the field, winning the nationals four times and the World Brewers Cup competition in 2015. However Tom, with support from Kaffa and the rest of the family, is mounting a serious campaign to challenge the reigning champ. With the spectacular coffee he has chosen, and his dedication these last months, he stands a very good chance. 

The coffee, sourced by CCS, is a Sidra Natural, part of the Heroes Series from La Palma y El Tucán (LP&ET). 

On the the front lines for this innovative partner of ours in Cundinamarca, Colombia, is “The Elite Squad,” a group of ten women who are all heads of their households and living in the region. These women are the LP&ET coffee picking team, an finely trained and experienced group who wear nail polish of a particular deep shade of red to help them identify only the ripest cherries for harvest. 

Sidra Variety

The Sidra variety is a rare cross between Typica and Bourbon. It is vulnerable to coffee leaf rust, but has adapted extremely well to the microclimate on its lot on the LP&ET farm, producing some of the best cups the team has tasted. Even with humidity reaching 90% and higher, and lower oxygen levels due to the altitude, the plant has adapted so well that it's now producing over 400 grams of parchment coffee per year. This is extremely low compared to the national average of 800g to 1kg of parchment coffee per tree, however it is a high yield compared to the other high quality varietals grown at high altitude.

The Sidra tree can grow to over 4 metres in 3 years, but the LP&ET team prune theirs in order to make it easier for pickers to reach all the cherries. The architecture of the Sidra resembles the Gesha tree, with branches that exit the trunk close to 45 degrees. The leaves are a light green color and spear-like in shape.

LP&ET Washed Processing

The processing period in this part of Cundinamarca is during the rainy season, and the farm can experience humidity levels of 90% or more. The humidity and the rain keep the temperature down and affect the amount of light the trees receive, which LP&ET believe causes just the right amount of stress on the plants to positively affect the concentration of organic acids and storage of sugars. 

LP&ET have both high and low tech solutions to this problem. They dry the coffee on raised beds in green houses fitted with thermostats that automatically turn on fans if the humidity gets too high. They also dry their coffee in very thin layers, and have a well-trained team who regularly rake and rotate the coffee to avoid fungal contamination while drying. 

LP&ET Natural Processing

Two years ago Colombia began experiencing the harshest affects of the El Niño weather phenomenon which sent warm currents across parts of the country. A severe drought, accompanied by the highest temperatures recorded in 136 years, wreaked havoc on farms across the country. However, for LP&ET it presented a rare opportunity. The higher temperatures and lower levels of humidity opened a small window of time to process natural coffees. The team jumped into action. The result is this unique and limited cup.   

Tom chose this coffee for his competition because it is so different to every other coffee he has experienced. While Gesha is the go-to coffee in brewing competitions, Tom is betting his Sidra will stand out from the pack. This natural coffee is very clean and sweet with strawberry candy, rhubarb, jam, dried mango, floral hibiscus and tart cherry notes. 

CCS has sold out of the Sidra Natural, but we do have a few bags of other limited edition Sidra Honeys, Lactics and Mixed lots, plus some other spectacular coffees in the La Palma y El Tucán Heroes Series. See our Colombian offers here and order a sample.  

If you’re in Oslo, you can also pick up a bag of beans roasted here at Kaffa, available in Java or Mocca. 

Go Tom! 

Update 10th March, 2018

Tom is the new Norwegian Brewers Cup champion!!!