Events and competitions are a great way to build community, and raise the awareness and appreciation for a new craft. We can meet new people, see what others are doing, exchange knowledge, and share in our passion for cold brew. They foster innovation and creativity which serve to increase the quality of the craft over time.
Specialty cold brew should take a note from specialty coffee in their approach to events and competitions. They have large, formal competitions that celebrate the best baristas, brewers, tasters, and roasters across individual regions, nationally and internationally. Coffee professionals can see what won in previous years and build off of that to push each of these disciplines forward. There are similar events for latte art where local shops host Thursday Night Throwdowns (TNTs) supported by their local communities, progressing up to national and international competitions.
These events honor the shops and individuals who are the leaders in their fields, and create an awesome community to help grow specialty coffee into what it has become.
In a similar way, cold brewers should be looking for ways to create, support, and participate in events that elevate the craft of specialty cold brew. Here are a few that we have been to.
These national events are held three times a year across the United States and currently feature still and nitro categories. Each brewer is paired up in a single-elimination bracket determined by public taste-testers, until a final four is announced and judges select a single set of winners.
We hope to see a continued growth in this event, further refinement of the rules and guidelines by which it is judged, more categories, and eventually regional or qualifying events if the interest and participation continues to grow. A few past champions and top finishers use Alto specialty cold brew products, and we hope for many more in the future. There is so much potential in this event, and we look forward to seeing how it progresses in the coming years.
One of the few regional cold brew competitions we know of was this awesome event put on by SDCN. They are key to organizing and throwing TNT’s in and around San Diego, and have used that platform to host an annual cold brew competition.
They encouraged many of the shops who compete in the latte art competitions to submit entries into either an Original Cold Brew (coffee and water only) or Signature Cold Brew category. It was judged by a panel of experts, and the public got to try the products as well. We were honored to be the lead sponsor of the event and excited to see many shops we work with do so well in the competition.
Get Out There
These types of events are so important to the development of specialty cold brew, so get out there and put your cold brew to the test. We would love to see more local TNT groups work on events like this or develop entirely new events or competitions around specialty cold brew.
Let us know if you’re throwing one, supporting one, participating in one, or even know of one. We would love to help spread the word and participate in any way we can!