Indy Hall Coffee Taste-Off 2013

image

Indy Hall, a thriving coworking community in Philadelphia with a thirst for great coffee, has been brewing blends by One Village Coffee and La Colombe for almost two years. With a recent influx of new members over that same period 2012-2013 (doubling the total membership - now roughly 250) we decided it was time to hold another taste-off and see what the members would be most interested in drinking. 

The Plan

We invited sixteen roasters (some of the best in the US) to participate. They would have to agree to send us free samples of their most competitive coffees (for an auto drip brewing system and a semi-automatic espresso machine). We would hold a tasting event (blind) and then tally the scores. The winning roasters (2) would get guaranteed business from Indy Hall for the entirety of 2014 (to the tune of 10lbs/month). Here’s a copy of the message we sent to them…

Hello from Philadelphia and Indy Hall (a coworking community full of amazing people)! We drink a lot of coffee at Indy Hall (over 40lbs a month) and have 200+ members. If you’re curious what Indy Hall is about and who we are, check out the website, for starters: http://www.indyhall.org/
1st Indy Hall Coffee Taste-Off!:
Lately, we’ve been drinking coffee by two local roasters but we’re looking to shake things up a bit and also create an annual “Indy Hall Coffee Taste-Off.” We’ve handpicked some of the best coffee roasters from all over the USA and are inviting them to send us some of their best coffee so our members can vote on their favorite. We’ll be voting on the best coffees per brewing methods we have available: auto drip, pour-over, espresso, and french press. And, of course, we’ll be overseeing the brewing of all coffees to ensure a fair preparation for all entrants.
What happens to the winning coffees? Once our members pick the beans they like most (November or December 2013), we’ll dub them the “Official Coffees of Indy Hall - 2014.” The winning roasters will receive a guaranteed 1 year of coffee business from Indy Hall. In addition to our local fuss, we’ll create some general web and twitter chatter about the winners, and no doubt, we’ll be talking about the coffees all year long.
Roaster Participation:
We’d like to know if you’re interested in participating. If you are, please send a healthy sample over for our members to taste (your best or a couple of your best single-origins or blends). The voting categories are brew method based: auto-drip, pour-over, espresso, and french press. 1 lb. per coffee would be a good minimum. 1.5 lbs per bean (for a particular single-origin or blend) would ensure that more members would get to vote on the coffee. Also, sending more than one pound for a particular coffee will allow our members to taste the coffee prepared with two different methods (if applicable). 
About Our Gear and Consumption:
The most common brew method the members use is our Bunn auto-drip machine. Light and Medium roasted single origin coffees do poorly in this machine (which tends to water down the coffee somewhat). Dark and robust coffees do well in this machine. Some medium roasted coffees actually do very well in it, though. Our second most common brewing method is our Rancilio Silvia espresso machine. Our third and fourth most common brewing methods are basically tied: french press and pour-over (Chemex). We use filtered water for all of our coffee preparation and auto temperature control for the auto drip and espresso machines (just below 205 degrees F).
Please contact me if you have any questions regarding the Indy Hall coffee taste-off. We look forward to hearing from you and, hopefully, we’ll be voting on your coffee!
P.S. Here’s a video of a recent cupping event at Indy Hall.
Of the roasters who got back to us, all were very positive about our taste-off event and the Indy Hall community, though several roasters declined for various reasons - the most popular being that they don’t like to give out free samples. From the initial sixteen invitees, five roasters came through and delivered samples in early November 2013. 
Next Post: “The Execution”
written by James Falconi (aka Captain Falco)