Chronicle of how we won the award for “Best Speciality Coffee Roaster in Spain” at the BCN Coffee Awards 2023

It all began when we received a little bag of coffee from Brazil, Milena Rodrigues variety Arara, natural process, and grown at an altitude of 1100m, courtesy of the importer Flor de Café. The importer provided some tasting notes for this coffee, mentioning flavors of maple syrup, yellow fruits, tangerine, and liquor.

It turned out that more than thirty roasters from the country would have nearly a month to roast the same coffee and send the best sample in that first round of the competition, so we got to work.

With this Brazilian coffee, we had 30kg (we were not convinced to roast a single batch of 5kg on our 22kg Probat machine where we usually roast 18kg batches). We decided to do five roasts of 6kg each.



Nomad Coffee’s first roast of Brazil’s Milena Rodrigues coffee.
After the first blind roast following our philosophy and five subsequent experiments trying different approaches, we decided to send the sample from the first roast, which we liked the most on the cupping table, scoring 85.67, with notes of chocolate, figs, tangerine, and orange liqueur.

The top twelve most favored coffees would move on to a final round, and from those, the winner would be chosen on the last weekend of September at the BCN Coffee Awards.

We were nervous, eagerly awaiting the announcement of the twelve finalists (in random order): Kima Coffee, Urban Coffee Roasters, Harmony Roasters, Cafés El Magnífico, Three Marks Coffee, Slow Mov, Hola Coffee, BRKLYN Café, Dalston Coffee, Brew Coffee, Right Side Coffee Roasters, and us, Nomad Coffee.

Seeing ourselves among the twelve best roasters selected with our first 6kg roast gave us a lot of confidence and affirmed that, yes, by following our way of doing things and our endless quest for consistency and quality, our coffees could stand up to the best specialty coffee roasters in the country.

We were celebrating with proud yet timid looks when the coffee for the second round arrived. Importer BELCO sent us 5kg of Ethiopia Chelbessa, Heirloom variety, washed process, grown at an altitude of 2000m, with tasting notes of peach, apricot, lemon, caramel, and jasmine.

Now, that was a real challenge. 5kg and a single opportunity to get it right and produce a great coffee we could proudly send to compete for the Best Roaster award at the BCN Coffee Awards.

Fran, our Chief of Coffee, told me to go for it and entrusted me with the Ethiopia coffee. Ambitious as I was, I opened my notebook and wrote a calendar with all the days remaining until the festival weekend. I tried to guess which day the Q-Grader judges would taste the submitted coffees if, in theory, they were going to announce a winner on Sunday, October 1st. I planned which day I could roast this Ethiopia so it would have the ideal resting days for the judges to taste it at its best.

Then I jotted down the following bullet point in the goals for this semester:

  • Best Roaster in the Coffee Awards 🙂

And so, the D-day came, the H-hour, the time to roast the E-roast of the CA. I added the 5kg coffee to Cropster’s schedule, probably between a production roast of Colombia El Roble and another of Kenya Nyanyuki AA, so that my two favorite coffees from this past season would bring me some luck. I got to work, focusing all my attention on the various lines on the screen.



Nomad Coffee’s winning 5kg roast of Ethiopia Chelbessa at the BCN Coffee Awards 2023.
This was the final curve, what some might consider the inner framework of that cup of coffee that the judges would taste on Sunday, October 1st and name as their favorite. (Before all that, at our own cupping table, the roasting team evaluated the coffee with a score of 86.88 and tasting notes of lemon, peach, floral, and grapefruit, plus the following emoji, kind of joking but not really: 🏆)

But the truth is quite different. The backbone of that coffee cup that had the luck to win, and of all the other Nomad coffee cups enjoyed in Barcelona, throughout Spain, and across the ocean in cafes like Wynyard in South Korea or Dayglow in the United States, the backbone of all these Nomad moments around the world is these people, the fantastic Nomad team in the photo above:

From the CEO Jordi Mestre who has created this incredible coffee-loving family to COC Francisco Tomás González Márquez, and Nomad Coffee Academy’s director, Ivette, continuously teaching us the magic of ROR and TDS, and the most consistent roasters in Spain, Rebeca Silva and Laura Coe, as well as Esteban Conde with his perfect event organization, the web and logistics geniuses Abel Cruz and Alejandro Marín Melgar, Pol’s unmatched accounting, Gonzalo’s and Fabi’s account management, Celia García Quesada making us work happily, the queen of orders María Jara Blanco, and the tireless Baba and Seck, the leader of the local team Núria Ruiz Fanega, the audiovisual master Marc Pérez Estada, and many more I’m not naming but who are essential parts of this fantastic team we’re building.

Nomad Coffee, LFG 😀