Coffee Article

Reflections on The World’s Largest Coffee Tasting (2020)

Andrew Pautler

Note: On October 12, 2020, I updated this post to include details about the five coffees featured in the 2020 tasting.

On October 3, 2020, James Hoffmann and Square Mile Coffee Roasters hosted the second annual World’s Largest Coffee Tasting. I wasn’t able to make it in 2019, so this was the first year I participated and I was extremely honored to get to be a part of it..

What is The World’s Largest Coffee Tasting?

The World’s Largest Coffee Tasting is an event put on by James Hoffmann and Square Mile Coffee Roasters, an East London-based roaster. All of the coffee for the kits was sourced and roasted by Square Mile and shipped to participants around the world. They shipped a total of 17,500 tasting kits, which is just an astounding number.

On October 3, 2020 almost 11,000 people gathered together virtually on the YouTube live feed to participate in the tasting together.

The 2020 tasting kit from Square Mile Coffee Roasters for the World’s Largest Coffee Tasting

The Tasting Kit

The tasting kit cost only £7 (£11.91 after tax and shipping), which totaled to less than $16. Getting five 30g samples of coffee shipped to your door from London for $16 is simply incredible and shows the main motivation for Hoffmann and Square Mile was not profit, but instead participation.

The kit included:

  • Five 30 gram samples of coffees (labeled A, B, C, D, & E),
  • A plastic sleeve containing ground samples to show the appropriate grind size,
  • Two sachets of Third Wave Water,
  • A postcard with information on how to prep for the event, and
  • A cutout gryphon (the Square Mile logo)
My setup for the World’s Largest Coffee Tasting

The Tasting

The tasting took place on October 3, 2020 at 3pm UK (9am my time). Over 10,000 people watched the live stream together as James Hoffman led the cupping of the coffees. Each coffee was labeled with a letter, so you were able to taste the coffees blind without knowing their origin, variety, processing, etc.

With each coffee you smelled at the pour, broke the crust at four minutes and smelled again and then began tasting at ten minutes. Square Mile and Hoffmann did a great job putting together a unique and varied set of coffees that spanned a variety of origins, processing methods, coffee varieties and more. Hoffmann specifically asked the details of each coffee not to be shared after the event to avoid spoiling the surprise for someone participating in the coming days.

Updated October 12, 2020: Now that the event is almost two weeks behind us and everyone has likely participated who wanted to, I have added details in the next section about the give coffees included in the tasting.

The Coffees in the 2020 Tasting

Coffee A: La Bolsa
  • Country: Guatemala
  • Region: La Libertad, Huehuetenango
  • Producer: Maria Vides
  • Harvest: December – February
  • Varieties: Caturra and Bourbon
  • Process: Washed
  • Alititude: 1800 MASL
Coffee B: El Vendaval
  • Country: Costa Rica
  • Region: Tarrazu
  • Producer: Ricado Calderon
  • Harvest: December – February
  • Varieties: Catuai
  • Process: White Honey
  • Alititude: 1900 MASL
Coffee C: Aricha
  • Country: Ethiopia
  • Region: Idido, Yirgcheffe
  • Producer: Maria Vides
  • Harvest: November – January
  • Varieties: Regional Landraces
  • Process: Washed
  • Alititude: 1800 – 1850 MASL
Coffee D: Refisa
  • Country: Ethiopia
  • Region: West Arsi
  • Producer: Maria Vides
  • Harvest: November – December
  • Varieties: Welisho and Kurume
  • Process: Natural
  • Alititude: 1950 MASL
Coffee E: Kaweri Turaco
  • Country: Uganda
  • Region: Mubende
  • Harvest: November – March
  • Varieties: Robusta
  • Process: Washed
  • Alititude: 1200 – 1350 MASL

Reflections on the Tasting

I have cupped a lot of coffees through the years, but most of the time it is by myself and/or with a coffee I already know the specs for. Doing a blind tasting and doing it with thousands of people around the world was incredibly exciting. James Hoffman was amazing, as always, and did a great job making it approachable and enjoyable regardless of your comfort level with cupping.

While I really enjoyed the live chat and texting with friends during the event, next year I am looking forward to purchasing a few kits and having a group of friends over to my house to participate all together.

Conclusion

The World’s Largest Coffee Tasting was incredibly fun to be a part of. It was well worth the cost and I am really excited to be a part of it next year.


Did you participate in the World’s Largest Coffee Tasting? Share your thoughts with me on Instagram. Do you have questions about the tasting or how it worked? Let me know and I’d love to be able to help.

Free Download

Download the free, printable coffee brew guide cheatsheet

  • Quick reference for ratios, water temp & brew times
  • 8 brew methods including chemex, V60, aeropress & more
  • Serving sizes and tips for each brew method
The Coffee Brew Guide Cheatsheet preview