I am the programme leader for the SCAE Gold Cup. I got involved in 2006 and co-wrote the brewing presentation which was launched in Antwerp in 2007. I have continued to learn more and more at each course I run.
I now head up the Gold Cup Research Group (GCRG), which has set out a very ambitious task to re-confirm the basis for the Gold Cup Programme for today’s coffee world.
This re-confirmation is overdue, as the Gold Cup standard is derived from scientific analysis which dates back over 50 years.
To either validate or modify the current SCAE Gold Cup standard to reflect today’s technologies and palates can only be a good thing.
In 1952, the Coffee Brewing Institute (CBI), an entity of the Pan American Coffee Bureau and National Coffee Association was founded by Dr. E.E Lockhart, who led the CBI as director from 1952–1964. He took responsibility for conducting technical and scientific programs around filter coffee and published results. While the CBI dissolved in 1964, it laid the groundwork for Gold Cup. I love this promotion video from 1961:
The defunct CBI was immediately replaced by the Coffee Brewing Center (CBC), where focus was shifted to the foodservice industry / HORECA market. The CBC developed several programs that promoted good brewing practices, including the first iteration of the Gold Cup Award. The CBC also produced its hugely influential Coffee Workshop Manual.
The Coffee Brewing Center’s work provided a scientific basis for understanding complex inter-relationships of coffee cupping, roasting and brewing. This work remains the foundation of today’s SCAE Gold Cup presentations.
The Coffee Brewing Control Chart, which is central to the Gold Cup was developed by the CBC.
While the CBC closed in 1975, its learnings have been carried on through the Norwegian Coffee Association (NCA), the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) and most recently by the Speciality Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE).
There has been no significant published research since the CBC on correct extraction of filter brewed coffee.
In the intervening 50 years, we have seen significant cultural and technological advances in all aspects of coffee production and preparation from seed to cup. Everything from coffee varietals, husbandry, processing, transport to storage has advanced in green coffee, while the technological advancements in roasting, grinding and brewing have grown apace. Finally, the measurement apparatus available in the 1950’s and 1960’s is very different to those measurement systems available in the digital world of 2010.
The SCAE launched its Gold Cup programme in Antwerp, Belgium in 2007. In the intervening years, it has become clear that this 50 year old research is still valid. However its relevance to the new world of global coffees deserves re-examination.