Our 2017 Golden Bean Awards – Fredrick & Hinterland
Reflections on Two Silver Medals at the Golden Bean in Australia...
An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Yes, there are many similarities between coffee roasters and ravenous wolves. But it is the other wolf that this story is about. That wolf is being fed by Sean and Kristine Edward’s vision that coffee roasters have a lot to learn from each other and if they could only get them all together in a room together coffee culture would benefit. Their stroke of genius was to create a coffee competition and conference where the roasters were not only the entrants but the judges. Not just the learners but the mentors.
Going to the*Golden Bean isn’t what I expected. It’s not showy or glamorous, it's actually pretty humbling. First is the acknowledged tension between the desire for a legitimate competition where the best coffee roasters are able to be celebrated amongst their peers and a professional development opportunity where every coffee roaster in the country can learn as well as share what they know.
Combining the two means bringing dozens of Australian roasters, with vastly different experience and levels of expertise, into a room and asking them to work together to judge 1000 coffees. Not a perfect model if you believe that there is only one game and there can only be one winner. But, if you believe in raising up a community, an industry, a vision, you do it this way, and take everyone along with you, even if mistakes are made.
Let me digress and tell you about the field trip to Peak Coffee Roastery. Peak is Sean and Kristine’s Roastery. It is in an industrial park, it’s cramped and awkward to photograph. But we all squish in and they share their struggles and successes, which are our struggles and successes. And it’s the great act of courage that means everything. The humility to bring everyone into their confidence to say this is how it is. It makes it ok to be a micro-roaster with a few accounts, no experience, and a big dream. It makes is safe for her to turn to the person beside her and say, “Here is what I am struggling with, what would you do?”
That first year I went to the Golden Bean, I was her. Terrified that I was going to be exposed as the most inexperienced person in the industry. Sure that the other nine judges at my table would quietly suggest that I be removed. It wasn’t those wolves that were at the table. The other wolves let me learn and when I asked, shared some bit of knowledge that they had. Fast forward a few years, and two 2017 Silver Medals for our Fedrick Pemium Blend and our Hinterland Decaffeinated Blend.
Check out our full selection of Fair Trade Coffee in our online shop.
*Golden Bean Australia is known as the largest coffee roasters competition and conference in the world.
More from Montville Coffee: Check out this article What is Fairtrade Coffee?