July 13, 2018

Golden Bean pioneering the competition space

It was just over ten years ago that I had a vision as to how we could showcase the hidden heroes of the coffee world. The Coffee Roaster was the little gem working at the back end of the business, developing the product that made the face and profile of the coffee company. The barista movement at the time was taking most of the glory for a whole team effort of getting that green bean into the cup. Though I recognise they are an important part of the process in my eyes it was very one sided, so I wanted to reward those who contribute to the whole process of the coffee business.

I had the vision that I could, with the help of the whole industry, change the thinking of the coffee market. We could achieve this by promoting the skill of the coffee roaster in creating an independent coffee competition that involved all players, with the key difference of having roasters judge roasters. This has been happening for hundreds of years in the wine industry, so it could not be that hard to achieve; or so I thought.

Fast forward 10 years and we are still developing the Golden Bean competition, now the largest Roasting Competition in the world. We are perfecting all elements of the event, always listening to competitors and making yearly changes to make it fairer and more ethical. The number of competition entries grows annually by 20%, so we have to keep modifying the process to be able to judge thousands of coffees in the four days of the event. We have always utilised the latest technology and the highest quality equipment to brew the many categories of coffee we judge. This year is no exception we are using Puqpress to control the consistency in every espresso shot, via mistake-free tamping. We also use the latest technology in the online booking process, Award Force, which follows the coffee all the way from the entry to the Judges table.

One of our biggest challenges is getting coffee roasters to come along to Golden Bean, to be a part of the judging and conference format. To judge some thousand-plus coffees, we need well over 100 roasters to attend to get through this mammoth task. We often hear the same response; that it is too hard to leave the business for so many days. The gratifying result we are seeing though is that the roasters who do attend, always come back the next year. They see the value and effort required for developing this event, and that the Golden Bean truly belongs to them; they see how by taking ownership they can help create a bigger and better industry for all.

We love the fact that over ten years of the national competition, we have networked hundreds of coffee products and service companies together through the Golden Bean process. We are now seeing Green Bean farmers, Green Bean agents, foreign diplomats, machine manufacturers, tech suppliers all coming together over the four networking days at Golden Bean. Between judging sessions and over our lunch breaks, we have different industry experts and suppliers talk about industry specific innovations and issues. We also pride ourselves on our fun social events in the evenings, where suppliers and roasters can get to know one another on a more personal level. On the Saturday morning we have a Green Bean Zone, where green bean companies can cup their origins with the attending coffee roasters.

This process is an amazing sales tool for green bean companies and we see millions of dollars in sales generated from this system. To top it off, we have other industry-leading product and service suppliers showing their solutions during the Green Bean Zone. From cutting edge equipment to the latest alternative beverages, dozens of businesses have reaped the benefits.

One thing I am very proud of with the Golden Bean is our amazing Awards Night directly after the event, allowing participating coffee roasters and the sponsors to attend and cheer on the winners. We endeavour to award 25% of all entries with medals and give comprehensive judges’ feedback straight after the event. We always create a theme for the event to create a fun atmosphere, and this year is no exception. Join us in going wild with the Medieval theme.

Finally, I am so proud of the team behind the Golden Bean competitions globally – for the achievements and growth of the competition. I personally urge all roasters to get involved and make some time, to grow your own knowledge base and participate in judging, by coming to the Portland competition in September and Port Macquarie Australia in November.

You don’t have to attend the event to enter coffee, but we would still like to see you there and become one of our fellow ‘Beanies’, which is now an exclusive networking club of coffee roasters.

Will you be the next Golden Bean winner 2018?

Sean Edwards

Head Bean

For more information please visit

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