Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Judges Training: Kampala

Morning Breakfast: muesli, papaya, egg white omelette, sausage, chicken, crumpet and paneer something.

Every morning starts in relatively the same manner: I wake up late because I'm sleeping at 3-4am and then rush to breakfast and then my driver meets me in the lobby before taking me through the streets of Kampala to classes at the Uganda Coffee Development Authority complex.

The weather here is interesting. Overall, it's quite nice. The mornings start out warn and slightly humid, building to hot and a little more humid by early afternoon. A couple hours later, it starts to cool down with breezes, then by night, the temperature drops to cool and low humidity. I would have thought that life this close to the Equator would be hot, hot, hot - but so far, so good. It's a balance of sweating and not sweating.

A morning cappuccino.

Today is the one and only day for Judges Training. Tomorrow competition begins and I'm tasked with making sure that the judges are up to speed on the latest rule changes and judging techniques. It's not monumentally difficult, just a bit tasking since I'm the only one here to train, certify and act as head judge for the championship. In other words, I'm here all by my lonesome.

Straightaway, we go at it. After introductions, I send the group to the tasting table where there are four sets of three coffee samples: Triangulation Time. For those unfamiliar, Triangulation is when you are presented with a set of three coffees. Two of them are the same, one is odd - your task is to identify the odd coffee in the set.

Boda boda operators ply their trade.

I prefer to keep the anonymity of the sets intact and have left the actual setup and brewing of the coffees to Clare - only she knows the key for the test. In an ideal world, we would do eight sets but today we're a bit limited on both time and coffee, and leave it at four sets. Four sets makes for harsher scores (one miss and you're already at 75%) but I'm looking to see how they perform and not necessarily setting up criteria with Triangulation for elimination.

From there, we discuss rule changes and go over the scoresheets, criteria by criteria. Definitions and examples are discussed. Potential problems and issues are brought up. Practical applications are demonstrated and then we show them actual samples to grade and discuss.

Judge trainees doing coffee triangulations.

After lunch, it's time for mock demonstrations. Mark Okuta, 2009 UNBC 4th Place and 2010 competitor, is invited to come and demonstrate for the judges. He does mock rounds of espresso and cappuccino for rotating teams of judges.

Towards the end of the day, I sit them down for the written examination. Sixty-nine questions totaling 167 points of multiple choice, fill-in-the-blanks and true/false questions challenge the judges. I read over the test and find a few conflicts and questions with multiple possible answers. I wonder to myself: Who wrote this thing? and make a point not to penalize for certain answers. I also make a mental note to make corrections to the test for future trainings.

Which coffee is the odd coffee of the three?

Everyone is finished and it's time to hit the road. The day is over. Trainings are complete. Time for competition.

We pile into Edmunds SUV and head to the Sheraton to load in the equipment and start setting up. While the crew installs and builds, I work on the schedules. This is my first outing as Head Judge and I'm now seeing the administrative work that I've left up to Rouki, Scott or Brent over the years. Part of me secretly likes being the junior judge.

A couple hours later, the sun has set and they drop me off at my hotel. Time to freshen up and get ready for competition tomorrow.

Thanks to barismo for sponsoring our training coffees!

Judges sit down for a little lunch.

My lunch of beef, rice and veggie.

Mark Okuta gets some experience as our demonstration competitor.

And faces a stringent panel of judges.

Brenda sits for her written examination.

Intently answering questions worth up to 167 points.

Museveni watches us everywhere we go.

Unloading a refrigerator.

The espresso machines arrive at the venue.

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