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Blue Ribbon Browns: A Roasting Competition at the NC State Fair

north carolina state fair

North Carolina 2012 State Fair photo by John Buie.

Sure, roasters may boast of exotic and provocative flavor notes, high-altitude growth or experimental processing methods, but until now they have not been able to boast of blue ribbons.

On Friday, October 14, among the livestock competitions, tractor pulls, fried dough and live music, the North Carolina State Fair will launch the first ever NC state roasting competition, an event based on good old-fashioned state pride in an industry that has thrived there.

“This really is groundbreaking because of the caliber of specialty coffee available in North Carolina,” NC State Fair PR Director Sarah Ray said in an announcement issued by the competition’s sole sponsor, Stockton Graham & Co. “We recognize the hard work these artisans put into their roasting and developed the competition with that in mind.”

Stockton Graham mentioned other large longtime roasters who call North Carolina home, including S&D Coffee & Tea and Counter Culture Coffee, while the roasting competition itself will include 12 roasters, representing a wide range of smaller independent roasting companies from throughout the state.

“We are excited to do this and bring the coffee community together,” Stockton Graham & Co. CEO and Co-Founder Jeff Vojta said. “Coffee has always been a collaborative industry, and this introduces a whole new group of consumers to appreciate great specialty coffee and promote North Carolina industry and jobs. It is a way for us to help showcase specialty coffee and the wide knowledge of coffee in our state.”

The twelve competitors will be judged on aroma, flavor, aftertaste, acidity, body, balance and overall quality. In addition to ribbons for the three winning roasters, there will be small cash prizes. Here’s who’s competing:

Anchor Coffee Company, North Wilkesboro, NC
Aromatic Roasters, Pittsborro, NC
Back Alley Coffee Roasters, Wake Forest, NC
Bethesda Roasting Company, Durham, NC
Café De Los Muertos, Raleigh, NC
Camp Coffee Roasters, Blowing Rock, NC
Carborro Coffee Roasters, Carrboro, NC
Larry’s Coffee, Raleigh, NC
Magic Beans, LLC, Pfafftown, NC
Mountain Air Roasting Incorporated, Asheville, NC
Pushwater Coffee, Charlotte, NC
Summit Coffee Company, Davidson, NC


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