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Everyone’s a Winner (sort of) at the Third Cascadia Roaster’s Competition

Cascadia Cup Coffee Roasting competition in Portland

At the third Cascadia Roaster’s Competition at Buckman Coffee Factory in Portland, Oregon. Photo by Mark Shimahara.

Now in its third year, the Cascadia Roaster’s Competition at Buckman Coffee Factory brought together scores of roasters in the spirit of collaboration and collegiality last weekend in Portland, Oregon.

But of course, as the strictures of competition dictate, only a select few roasters were named as winners. Brian Clemens of Relevant Coffee (Vancouver, Washington) and Lynsey Douglas of Water Avenue Coffee (Portland) taking first place in the Judges’ Choice and People’s Choice categories, respectively.  

Cascadia Cup Coffee Roasting competition in Portland

Judge’s Choice winners in attendance. From left to right: Lauren Robertson, Gareth Welker and Brian Clemens. Photo by Mark Shimahara.

Roast magazine was proud to yet again sponsor this year’s competition, along with the roaster sharing-and-warehousing facility Buckman, green coffee importer Genuine Origin, and brewing equipment maker Curtis.

A modest $75 entry fee gave 50 roasters access to 20 pounds of green coffee to dial in. Competitors were given no knowledge about the coffee, which, as it turns out, came through Genuine Origin from producer Jorge Perea in Guatemala’s San Vicente region.

Cascadia Cup Coffee Roasting competition in Portland

People’s Choice winners. From left to right: Brett Felchner, Lynsey Douglas, Mitch Montgomery and Gareth Welker. Photo by Mark Shimahara.

“Rather than locking myself in a room and roasting it twenty different ways, I sample roasted it a few times and solicited feedback from my roasting friends and colleagues,” said Judge’s Choice winner Clemens, who was inspired to compete after his roasting mentor and Relevant Coffee Owner Mitch Montgomery took the top prize last year. “I flat out asked other roasters what they thought of the coffee and how they might approach it. This competition is about taking shared knowledge to improve your own self. I compared their evaluations with mine and continued to roast the coffee in a way to reveal its more hidden notes, develop it as sweet as possible, and balance it with nice acidity. To me competition breeds excellence. It pushes me to study, ask questions, be a sponge taking in feedback, and apply everything that I’m learning.”

Cascadia Cup Coffee Roasting competition in Portland

Photo by Mark Shimahara.

Nathanael May of Pacific Foods and nine other experienced coffee professionals sampled each of the submissions. For the People’s Choice competition, 150 attendees cupped all 25 finalists’ coffees in five different tasting rounds.

We congratulate everyone that competed, and we’re already looking forward to next year’s competition. Here are the top five finalists in both categories:

Judges’ Choice:

1st place: Brian Clemens – Relevant Coffee (Vancouver, Washington)

2nd place: Steve Cuevas – Black Oak Coffee Roasters (Ukiah, California)

3rd place: Gareth Welker – Water Avenue Coffee (Portland, Oregon)

Placed in top five: Lauren Robertson – Double Jump Coffee (Canby, Oregon)

Placed in top five: Ian Williams – Deadstock Coffee (Portland, Oregon)

People’s Choice:

1st place: Lynsey Douglas – Water Avenue Coffee

2nd place: Mark Johnson – Intent Coffee (Gresham, Oregon)

3rd place: Mitch Montgomery – Relevant Coffee

Placed in top five: Brett Fletcher – Barista (Portland, Oregon)

Placed in top five: Gareth Welker – Water Avenue

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