We interview Chad Wang about his coffee-brewing philosophy, cold fermentation, and what’s next after finishing in 3rd at his very first World Brewers Cup
BY JOSHUA DUSK-PEEBLES SPECIAL TO BARISTA MAGAZINE
Chad Wang of Taiwan’s World Brewers Cup presentation ”which earned him an enviable 3rd-place finish in the international championship in June in Dublin, Ireland ”was packed with well-researched and pertinent details. From explaining the density of water at different temperatures, to the connection between solar energy and sweet coffee, Chad made every sentence count and delivered it all with precision and friendly professionalism. It’s hard to believe that, with such ambition and talent, this was just Chad’s first World Brewers Cup appearance. It’s clear from his performance, and his insights into coffee extraction and brew parameters, that he’s a coffee pro on the rise..
You can watch his final round performance here:
Joshua Dusk-Peebles: Congratulations on your World Brewers Cup 3rd-place finish! One of the many intriguing features of your routine was rinsing your paper filter with 300ml of water. That is quite a bit more than the typical rinse amount. It makes a lot of sense, but I have never seen anyone else do it. What led you to that idea?
Chad Wang: Fact was, one of my colleagues does not feel that washing the filter is necessary. But I noticed that when he brews, the filter absorbed a lot of the liquids, leading to loss in the first stage of extraction. So I had the idea to test the maximum saturation level of the paper, to minimize absorption, add consistency in my three brews.
JDP: After washing the filters, you waited 10 minutes before brewing. Why was that?
CW: It’s very simple. I like to ensure that my filter is perfectly fitted to my V60. If I soak on stage, I have no room for a second chance. So I soaked the paper before I went on stage to ensure that it’s fitted perfectly. It is not entirely necessary to wait so long if you use colder water.
JDP: Speaking of cold things, can you tell us a little bit more about the œCold Fermentation process that you used on your competition coffee? How does it differ from Natural, Honey, or Washed Processing?
CW: Actually the fermentation happens before the drying. We ferment the cherry in a low temperature-controlled room to lengthen fermentation for more flavor, and then it goes into natural, honey, or washed.
JDP: That particular processing choice happened in the context of the Ninety Plus Makers Series. Can you give us more details on the Makers Series and how it works? Did your experience with it change any assumptions you had previously held about coffee?
CW: The Maker Series is a team of international baristas which is working closely with Ninety Plus to make taste. We go to the estates, tailor a process for our responsible coffee (Lotus being mine). We have a few things in common: we love coffee, we’re a lot of fun. My experience in the farm was mind blowing. It was my first time. I had no expectations whatsoever, so no assumptions were made before I went.
JDP: What other ideas did you try for your competition recipe before you settled on your method?
CW: I tried brewing with a fine grind on a French Press. But V60 was much brighter.
JDP: Did you use the same method to win your national competition? If so, did you make any small adjustments?
CW: I used the same method, but a slightly different grind. Slight coarser grind in Taiwan because of the high humidity.
JDP: You have quite a few nations on your roster. Tell us more about how China, Taiwan, and the UK all factor in to your coffee journey?
CW: Taiwan has had quite a bit of coffee influence from Japan. So I started drinking coffee in Taiwan since I was 12. When I lived in the U.K., I drank chain commercial coffee but worked in an artisan chocolate store, where I developed how to taste single-origin chocolates. China is a new market, with many opportunities.
JDP: You work at Jascaffe in Shanghai. What is your role there? How did you start working there?
CW: I’m the head barista and cupper at Jascaffe. We buy greens mostly, we roast some and cup them to ensure each batch is of acceptable quality. The company is owned by Jason Wang, who’s my father. Though we share very little in common and we disagree with each other all the time, I love my company and my job.
JPD: What is happening in your local coffee scene right now that excites you?
CW: Since the competition, I’ve had just as much interest from outside the coffee industry as I’ve had within. I’ve been approached by a couple of agents in regards to sharing and brewing coffee for motor brands, celebrity parties, etc. I’m very pleased that the public is developing awareness in specialty coffee here.
JDP: What inspires you to keep pushing forward in coffee?
CW: I’m a Scorpio. My mind can only focus on one thing at a time until I’m certain that I’ve done all I can. There is a lot more to learn about coffee for me.
JDP: What has been the biggest thing you’ve learned so far?
CW: How important positive energy is when it comes to delivering the best coffee possible for the judges. I was literally talking to the ground coffee while I spooned it in my glass jar. A year ago I would have laughed at myself.
JDP: What advice do you have for people who want to become better at brewing?
CW: Brew, brew, brew. Try different equipment, grinds, styles of brewing. Find your favorite and stick with it until you’re the expert. Adjust the grind rather than your hand to adjust taste. It’s much easier and much more consistent.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joshua Dusk-Peebles is a lifelong explorer, experimenter, and learner. He enjoys nothing more than sharing what he is learning with other people. When he was young, he would get legitimately angry if his dad forgot to let him smell the coffee every time a new bag was opened. Unfortunately, the much less pleasant corresponding beverage kept him away from coffee until his 30s, when he smelled and then tasted a well-handled natural process Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, and everything made sense again. He plans on getting his own new-born son started much sooner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org