Last Sunday, in the long, stony yard out the back of the Bernard Shaw pub in Dublin, baristas from far and wide gathered to answer an age-old question that has long plagued mankind: how far can you throw a bag of coffee? This was the inaugural launch of the Irish Coffee Throwing Championships, a new competition created by the minds behind Tamper Tantrum. We were there; coffee was thrown; let’s look in, shall we?
First things first, it being a new competition and all, let’s review the rules:
• Contestants have to throw a bag of roasted coffee, of gross weight no less than 1kg, the furthest distance without the aid of throwing devices and without the bag bursting. If your bag bursts and spills a bean, or part thereof, you are disqualified.
• The final resting place of the furthermost part of the bag is considered to be the distance reached. The bag can be vac-packed, valved, sealed, or any other method as long as said method is of a commercial nature.
• Competitors will indicate their weight class prior to competition; prizes will be awarded to the furthest bag thrown in each class. The classes include Flyweight, Featherweight, and Welterweight.
a. 1m = 1 point, 1cm= 0.01point (eg: 21.34 metres = 21.34 points)
b. 10 points for bringing a napkin
c. 10 points for pouring water into a glass before throwing
d. 10 points for “overall impression and synergy”
• Contestants are expected to provide their own music, which may or may not be played during competition time.
• The “Random Disqualification Klaxon” will disqualify the incumbent thrower for no particular reason at a random time in the competition.
• Contestants are encouraged to pick the variety, roast, process and flavour profile of their chosen coffee in accordance with their throwing technique and will be asked to explain their coffee choice and throwing technique to the judge(s) before completing their throw (maximum of five minutes allowed per competitor).
Supporters turned out and stood, often dangerously close to the hazard zone, clutching their pint-glasses in anticipation of a heady competition. The extensive (and enthusiastic) lineup of competitors included representatives from Dublin coffee companies like The Fumbally, Brother Hubbard, Love Supreme, Applegreen, 3FE, Bewleys, plus an errant Canadian representing Espressotec. This vibe was like an Irish coffee industry’s community games—a great sense of camaraderie could be felt in the crowd. The competition also bridged coffee drinkers with baristas in that several of the competitors signed up on the day of the event, and regular weekend patrons of the Bernard Shaw, who hadn’t anticipated the event, gathered around to watch and ask questions.
The event was judged by 3FE owner Colin Harmon and Has Bean owner Stephen Leighton, the two founders of Tamper Tantrum, alongside perennial UK Barista Championship threat Dale Harris, also of Has Bean. The three gentlemen donned barista’s aprons and wielded the chalkboards that would decide the fate of the day for the baristas/athletes. Occasionally they held scores. Sometimes they held smiley faces. Once or twice they held, ‘I need a drink’.
After Harmon’s cheerful opening ceremony, competitors took to the game. Bags of coffee flew through the air in arcs, some soaring towards the back wall of the makeshift arena, some soaring over the wall into the neighboring lot, and many smashing on impact with the ground, filling the summer air with their heady scent. The bags of coffee thrown were “off roasts” (not for public consumption) provided by local and international roasteries, including 3FE, Lavazza, and Insomnia, whose coffees made for a particularly strong aroma every time a bag split against the concrete.
The high ratio of smashed bags made for even higher drama. The spectators cheered each contender on, and despite the occasional foul throw (some of which bordered on an assassination attempt), no crowd members caught sleight of an out-of-bounds bag. A miracle, truly.
Tamper Tantrum’s Jenn Rugolo kept a keen eye on the score as the competition developed, and at the end of the day, three clear victors emerged. Each winner was presented with a gorgeous belt fit for a champion, handcrafted by Rugolo herself.
The dust settled, the coffee tossed, your first-ever 2015 Irish Coffee Throwing Champions are:
Rashel Winn representing The Fumbally—Flyweight class.
Bruno Ferreira representing Brother Hubbard—Featherweight class.
Craig Walsh representing 3FE—Welterweight class.
As the inaugural Irish Coffee Throwing Championships drew to a close with nary a casualty, there could be little doubt: this event has paved the way for many, many years of coffee throwing in my nation’s future. It was a proud moment not just for coffee, and not just for Dublin, but for coffee in all of Ireland.
Sarah Maria Griffin (@griffski) is a writer based in Dublin. She is the author of the acclaimed memoir Not Lost and has contributed to The Rumpus, Midnight Breakfast, and The Tusk. This is her first feature for Sprudge.