Of the cadre of exciting and oft-whimsical competitions filling seats and stealing hearts at World of Coffee, the World Brewer’s Cup is found perhaps on the more serious end of the spectrum. And it’s no wonder: this two-part brewing challenge consists of both a verbally annotated coffee-making presentation to a panel of sensory judges, and a silent, golf-like compulsory round. This unique opportunity for talented baristas to showcase particularly special coffees with care, attention, and passion, is a particularly edifying competition to watch.
Thursday, Norwegian Brewers Cup Champion Odd-Steinar Tøllefsen claimed the world championship title using a natural processed Nekisse coffee from the Sidamo region of Ethiopia. Tøleffsen is part owner of Oslo cafe-roastery Supreme Roastworks, and the coffee, sourced via the Ninety Plus Maker Series, is credited to Maker and “known childhood actor” Semeon Abbay.
Tøleffsen brewed his coffee with a Hario V60 filter cone, using 20 grams of coffee and 300 grams of water at 92 °C, with a 45 second bloom. Total extraction time was 3:30. Tøllefsen used natural mineral water from the West Coast of Norway, a water with a low mineral content for soft and smoothness, resulting in a coffee whose expression actualizes “how good coffee can taste when your palate is having the time of its life,” said Tøllefsen.
The V60s were brewed into Hario carafes set atop Acaia scales, which were Bluetooth linked to individual iPhones placed at judges’ table settings for the judges to monitor his extraction in real time.
Tøllefsen’s brewed coffee had intense sweet, ripe tropical fruit aroma, as well as apricot, mango and passion fruit. Tasting notes were ripe tropical fruit, apricot, mango, passion fruit, sharon, dried apricot and strawberry, with a sweet lingering aftertaste and an elegant acidity of passion fruit and mango. Tøllefsen called time just under 10 minutes.
We spoke with Tøleffsen immediately following his victory to learn more.
Sprudge: First things first. Did we hear you just named your baby right here after the competition?
Odd-Steinar Tøllefsen: My girlfriend actually suggested a coffee-related name, because in Norway in the national championships, he was born between open service and the finals. I had open service on Thursday, and I went back to the hospital, and he was born in the evening around 10:00. I went home from the hospital at 2:30am and I went home, did my preparation, made the menu, packed my equipment, checked everything, and I did my finals as the first competitor, 8:30am.
I said as a joke, if I win the World Championships, we can call him Sidamo. I have to stick by my word, I always do that. If I say something, I mean it, so after the ceremony today, his name is Love Sidamo Tollefsen.
Whose idea was it to use the iPhones?
I got the Acaia scales, they looked really nice, and I realized I could connect them to the iPhones, and at first I thought maybe it was kind of a cheesy thing to do have it in front of the judges, but then afterwards I realized it was really nice, they can watch my brewing and check my ratio of how much I’m brewing and the time, no room for errors, but I like it.
What does this win mean to Supreme Roastworks?
It shows a consistency, for us, and a good feedback from the coffee community that we are doing something right. And of course Ninety Plus, what they are doing with processing thee coffee and going in other directions than the mainstream, I think it’s really important to explore. There’s so much more to explore in the coffee world, about cultivating and processing and roasting and everything, so much more to learn. Ninety Plus is one of the [companies] in the business going in the front and really doing different things that may not work out or works out really really really well, and especially this coffee, it’s sick.
Tell us more about this Semeon Abbay Nekisse.
It’s so sweet, and it’s so fruity and so balanced. It’s so flavor-intense. and yeah, they are doing something, but what is the most fascinating is it’s a quite ordinary Ethiopian coffee. It’s not a single origin cultivated narrow project, it’s selected smallholder farms, it’s mixed heirloom and it’s an ordinary coffee. Of course the selection is good, but I think the processing makes this really stand out.
Supreme’s trademark is the naturals. We are hoping to get more naturals, clean, well-processed naturals [from Ninety Plus] but it’s difficult, it will never come up to this standard in a long time I think. This is something completely different than I’ve ever tasted in all my life. This is a peak.
I’m so happy for Semeon Abbay as well, he’s creative and innovative, he’s working as profile processing director for Ninety Plus in Ethiopia and he’s really innovative and he does things in a different way, so I think he deserves—he and the “Ninety Plus family” as they call it—they deserve the credit. They made a total of only seven bags worldwide of this coffee when it was produced, and it was actually produced 1.5 years ago, so this is what they call old crop or past crop.
Ninety Plus are really good at letting the coffee rest—they don’t want to ship it out before it’s ready. This coffee has rested a long time. We tasted a lot of fresh crop and it was really really fresh crop both from Ethiopia and Panama, but it wasn’t even close to this.
And is there any more left?
Ninety Plus have a remaining 35 kilos and we have 15 kilos in Oslo, this is it!
Thanks, Odd-Steinar, and congratulations—to little Love Sidamo, too.
Liz Clayton is Sprudge.com’s associate editor, based in Brooklyn. Read more Liz Clayton on Sprudge.
Enjoy more World Brewers Cup coverage on SprudgeLive.com, our global hub for all things coffee sports.