Don't Be Afraid to Compete: A First Timer's Experience Competing in the Irish Brewers Cup

by Sammi Pun //

In May 2018, our guest blogger, Alex Cregan from Three Fools Coffee, competed in the SCA Irish Brewers Cup. Despite working in coffee for only 18 months and competing for the first time, Cregan brought home the second place and is excited to share his experience.

Preparing for your first coffee competition can be a tough and daunting task. In many ways, you’re entering into the unknown and there are heaps and heaps of information that’s available, much of which can be irrelevant to your brew.

During the time I was researching for the competition, I studied some Matt Perger video clips. In these clips, he walked through grind particle distribution. Before this, I knew grind setting was important, but I never really considered particle distribution. This opened my eyes and I immediately searched for KRUVE online. The KRUVE Sifter then kick-started a journey of experiments in the lead up to the Irish Brewers Cup.




The coffee I chose to compete with

I received the KRUVE Sifter two months before the Irish Brewers Cup. I was preparing with a coffee from Panama (which I didn’t use in the competition), and it was proving to be troublesome for me.

Using my home grinder, the Wilfa Svart, it was tough to make this coffee to a competition level. I spent hours and hours trying, and I was never really happy afterward. When I received the KRUVE, it allowed me to grind my coffee much finer and sift out all of the fines which were in the way of me making a great cup for the competition.

When my competition coffee arrived, a Natural Geisha from Los Lajones Estate by Three Fools Coffee, I knew that the KRUVE Sifter will be needed to showcase the best of this coffee.

My brew method

For weeks, I worked on different methods, different ratios, various waters and more. Ultimately, I decided to use the Hario V60-02 with a brew ratio of 1:15 (20g Coffee to 300ml Water) and a water temperature at 94°C. The KRUVE was simple to use on competition day. About five minutes before I was due on stage, I ground my coffee using my Wilfa Svart and used the KRUVE to get the particle distribution between 1200μm and 600μm.

My grind was quite coarse for a pour over, so I split the water into five pours, to showcase the body and the sweetness of the coffee to the judges. The brew took 3 minutes and 30 seconds and it produced great results.

The plum-like sweetness and full body were evident along with the caramel-like aftertaste which lingered on creating an incredibly moreish cup.

"My grind was quite coarse for a pour over, so I split the water into five pours, to showcase the body and the sweetness of the coffee to the judges."

It was a very tough competition. Some highly skilled and experienced brewers were competing with coffees from well known, established roasters with huge amounts of competition experience themselves. Even though that this was my first competition and I had only worked in coffee for 18 months, I placed second in the competition overall!

Needless to say, I’m delighted with the result. I’m so thankful to everyone at Three Fools Coffee and everyone who’s helped me along my journey. The KRUVE Sifter was hugely influential in this and was definitely one of the key reasons why I did so well in my first year competing. It allowed me to create clearer, more flavourful cups and it gave me much more control over the brew.

The lessons I learned

This whole process has made me a better brewer and barista than I was before. I understand much more about water, grind size, brewing ratios and many other aspects of coffee brewing. The judges loved the coffee and they helped me to understand how I can improve. I now know what to do for next year to improve, and I can’t wait to showcase what I’ve learned.

If you’re ever worried about competing, just stick your neck out and do it. Putting time and effort into coffee brewing has made me a better coffee professional than before, and it has encouraged me to keep on improving.

Three Fools Coffee will have the Natural Geisha from Los Lajones Estate on sale very soon. I’m so excited to demonstrate to our customers how I brewed this coffee for the Irish Brewers Cup using the KRUVE! Watch this space! 

About the Author

Alex Cregan has been working in specialty coffee for just under two years with Three Fools Coffee. In this time, he has developed a passion for brewing great coffee for the people of Cork City. His passion led him to place second in the Irish Brewers Cup on his first attempt.

Find Alex on Instagram
Find Three Fools Coffee on Instagram  |  Website



Interested in a guest blogging for KRUVE? Please submit your application here.

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