Populace Coffee Flight of Fancy 2016

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November is upon us, again, and that means it’s Flight of Fancy season! LOL For the past three years, Populace Coffee has been running a cool coffee tasting contest with some big prizes! I participated last year and was happy with my overall performance, but I missed 2014’s inaugural competition. Super taster, Austin Amento, of Augie’s Coffee (he is the US Tasters Cup Champion) has won the last two years and everyone’s looking to unseat the champ! Sprudge writer, Zac Cadwalader, recently wrote, “… and I for one am sick of it. We get it, Austin, you taste coffee good. Stop trying to singlehandedly furnish Augie’s cupping lab and let someone else win for a change.”

As harsh as it sounds, this is all in good spirit and it’s just a bit of fun ribbing. This year, there are some changes to the competition. It’s limited to 200 entries and there are now some additional prizes for non-tasting champs in categories like Social Media Butterfly Award, Best of Show and Biggest Cupping Crew. There are still a few days left, but I’m pretty certain Kansas City locals Trouvé Coffee are going to win the Social Media Butterfly prize. I think they upload an AWESOME #FOF2016 photo about every 15 seconds to Instagram!

Photo courtesy of Sprudge
Photo courtesy of Sprudge

So, this is why my blog has been quiet over the past few days… I have such a limited coffee drinking window that this competition has been getting all my attention! And, the prizes make it worth it. We’re talking about a single group La Marzocco Linea Mini for the grand prize winner, a Lux D grinder for second place, and some damn nice stuff for the other prizes, too, like an Acaia Lunar scale (enjoy your scale, Trouvé!), Stagg Kettle, etc.

Comparing last year’s box to this year’s is night and day. I thought Populace did a good job last year, but man, they went all out this year. Each of the four coffees has a gorgeous flower on the beautiful 75g bag. The eight cards are adorned with beautiful butterflies and well-placed graphics. It’s a masterpiece! The other thing I liked is that this year all eight origin cards are from different origins. Last year, there were three origins that were doubled-up, so there were two cards each for Ethiopia, Colombia and Guatemala. I ended up picking the correct one from Ethiopia, and then I got the country correct for both Colombia and Guatemala, but ended up picking the wrong farm/subregion from both places. Dang! So, this year, each card is from a different country and I like that, but then the realization hit that I have practically no experience with Panama or Rwanda, so that’s a problem. Ugh! LOL

One of the big decisions every year is how to drink these coffees… last year I cupped them and I brewed them, but I got very little out of cupping them because I only cup coffees a few times a year, at most. For someone like Austin, who probably cups everyday, if not multiple times per day, then that’d be a great way to proceed with the competition. So, this year I decided to go with my standard notNeutral Gino pourover of 28g of coffee to 450g of water, since I drink that pretty much every day. Time will tell if I made the right decision or not!

So far, I have made it through three of the coffees. I thought I had two of them (Coneflower and Garden Nasturtium) nailed just based on visual appearance and fragrance of the beans alone. LOL I think I have Coneflower for sure, but the other one threw me for a big loop once I tasted it. Garden Nasturtium boiled down to two origins for me, one I’m familiar with and one I’m not, so I decided to go with what my gut knows and picked the origin I’m familiar with. Same thing happened on the Daylily this morning. I thought I knew exactly what it was until the first sip and then that threw me into a tailspin. It came down to three coffees for me, one of which I excluded because it’s too bright for that origin. So, again, I found myself choosing between an origin I know well and one I don’t know at all, so I went with what I know. Can’t wait to see if I’m right! I have one coffee to go and then things will be back to normal here on KC Coffee Geek!