We caught up with 2011 Icelandic Barista Champion Tumi Ferrier, to ask him about his relationship with black coffee, personally as well as professionally. Tumi competed in this years’ World Barista Championship in Bogotá, Colombia, where he placed 19th out of 53 competitors from all over the world.
How do you approach a new coffee you haven’t tasted or brewed previously?
Cupping is the default method for analyzing new coffees and a very good one in my opinion: it’s neutral – especially when done blind – and usually one cups with others, so there’s always a good discussion on how to describe the coffees. [Cupping is an internally standardised way of judging coffees: read more here]
From a literary perspective – I’m studying literary theory – it also makes sense to parallel it to reception aesthetics, wherein one person detects something completely different the first time compared to the second time (whether it’s cupping or reading a text) and talking about it creates a deeper portrait of the coffee.
What is your preferred brewing method? Why? For any given coffee, will there be aspects of it – strengths, if you will – you will try to enhance? How do you go about doing so?
I usually begin with the same recipe (ratio of 1:16,5) and aim to find the grind size I like while all the other parameters are fixed. I’ve found it to be the most effective approach.
The brewing method I like the most nowadays is the Clever Brewer because you have complete control over the steeping but it still works like a regular dripper when you want it to. You get both the even immersion of the french press and the clarity of a filter brew. Next step would be making a cloth filter for the brewer to really enhance the body of the coffee!
Do you experiment with water quality and different formulations, or stay with to the local water as a benchmark that can be reproduced by customers?
The discussion on water quality has become a bit louder now so I’m dying to experiment more with it. The water in Iceland is very clean, although I’ve heard it lacks some materials. I haven’t found any useful information on the average quality of the Icelandic water except that the PH level is somewhere around 8 (should ideally be 7); so maybe we’re missing out on some of the acidity?
How do you tweak your methods as the coffee grows older – and finally past crop?
I try to avoid past crop [green, unroasted beans that have gone stale] as much as I can, but I know that the Kaffitár roaster tweaks the profile as the coffee grows older, to get as close to the original taste as possible. In brewing, I’ve found that a longer steep time helps – but there’s really nothing that can cover the woody taste [of past crop coffee]
I always like a Guatemalan when it’s really fresh; I’ve recently grown to like natural processed coffee (if they’re not vinegary) and a good Kenyan is gooood!
Anything you would like to add?
I recently attended the Nordic Barista Cup in Denmark, where the theme was Nordic Taste. It made me realize how rich the coffee/food culture is in the Nordic countries. We really need to be reminded of that and be proud!