For those of you not familiar with the Pacific Coast Coffee Association (PCCA), let me bring you up to speed. The PCCA is an organization, founded in 1932, that strives to encourage growth and prosperity within the coffee industry. The PCCA has many events during the year, and the two events that I usually attend are the Pete McLaughlin Memorial Cupping Competition and the annual PCCA Coffee Convention. I have attended numerous presentations in the past regarding the current state of the coffee economy in countries such as: Ethiopia, Colombia, Sumatra and Kenya. Being that I do not travel to most of the source countries, it is my way of keeping up to date on current affairs in those countries.
The PCCA’s 10th annual Pete McLaughlin Memorial Cupping Competition is at the end of April. This is one of my favorite things to do every year because it lets me pay homage to my late uncle, Pete. Pete was a co-owner of Royal Coffee, the importing company from whom we buy our green coffee. Pete was not only a good businessman, but he was a great uncle to my brother and me. His sense of humor and fearlessness were second to none, and there has never been, nor will there ever be, anyone like him. I had the extreme honor of winning this award as “PCCA Cupper of the Year” in 2005, just two years after I joined the business. The coffees that we cupped that year were from Sumatra.
In the cupping competition, the PCCA selects coffees from a specific country of origin to judge. A judging committee is selected, which usually consists of some of the most esteemed coffee minds and cuppers in the industry. The judges narrow down a large field of coffees, from farms and estates from that specific country, to ten finalists. As cuppers, we taste all ten finalists side-by-side and rate them based on a number of categories. Some of the main categories are: aroma, body, flavor, and acidity. There are usually about fifty to sixty individual cuppers, and once all of the results are tallied, our scores are then compared to the judges’ scores to determine a winner. I am really looking forward to seeing which country of origin we will be cupping this year.
In September, I will be attending the 79th Annual PCCA Convention at Silverado Resort in Napa, California. I am very excited because not only it is close to home, but, as an avid golfer, I cannot wait to test my skills on one of the most beautiful golf courses in the greater Bay Area. I look forward to sharing my experience of the cupping competition in my next blog. Until next time!