John Gordon – Preparing for Amsterdam

We ask John Gordon about competing and preparations for Amsterdam.
After a four-year hiatus, what inspired you to compete again?  
I had always planned to compete again since 2014 and I wanted to wait for the right time. I almost popped the apron back on last year but I was really waiting for my little Stronghold roaster to come along so I could roast my own coffee. When I decided that I was going to do it this year it was perfect timing with Project Origin doing some experimental processing in my favourite producing country Ethiopia. Everything was lining up in the right way.
What did you do differently this year that you think made you win the competition?
I always like to try and bring something a little different to competition, but this time there was more focus on taste and communication of that taste and to try my best at reflecting that on the score sheets. Over the last few years, I have really looked at the score sheet very differently and am doing my best to really look closely at the numbers and how they stack up. the coffee was great and it can be so much better but that’s what I think really won it, A combination of unique coffee characteristics and communicating it in the right way.
As a seasoned competitor, what significant changes have you noticed in competition over your time competing?
I think it is slowly becoming a little restrictive actually and that’s leading to baristas trying to find loopholes to be able to do things. I love the creative side of competing and finding different ways of doing things to make coffee tasty. The other change is lots of crazy expensive coffee’s hitting big numbers on the score sheet, so last year it was great to see Dale win with a solid coffee that covered the fundamentals of what coffee really is on a larger scale.
What preparations are you doing now?
I only have a very small amount of the original experimental coffees left so they are being saved for roasting just before I head over to Amsterdam so it’s back to selecting coffees from the same processing station in Ethiopia but with the production lots of the successful experiments, rewriting speeches and working out the finer details of a much bigger version of the routine.
What are you most excited about leading up to WBC?
In all honesty, just getting another chance to step on the world stage and present something I really believe in is so exciting.
As a coffee professional, what has competing done to you personally and professionally?
I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t get in to coffee, I have been so fortunate to travel the world like crazy and see so much and meet amazing people, professionally it opened doors to get involved in equipment development which is a huge challenge that I love and it’s really helped me push every day even when not competing to keep learning as much as possible. The rapid progression throughout the process leading up to competition has been so rewarding that I know I wouldn’t be where I am now without competition.
Any advice to those thinking of competing next year?
Do it because you want to do it, find something within coffee that you’re really passionate about and share that with everyone, don’t be afraid to lay your heart out on the table.
All the best John.  Look out for the live streaming coming from Amsterdam in June!