Canadian Brewers Cup Champion Kunie Inaba

Swiss Water is proud to celebrate Cupping Room Technician Kunie Inaba, who took first place in the Canadian National Brewer’s Cup Competition last month! While Kunie participates in coffee competitions all over Vancouver, this one was a short commute, as we had the honor of hosting this event at Swiss Water headquarters in Delta, BC. Kunie competed not just in the Brewer’s Cup but also the Canadian National Cup Taster’s contest, (where our sales team member Jeff Daou also put his strong tasting skills to the test!)

We asked Kunie to set down her cupping spoon for a few minutes and answer a few questions for her fans.

Swiss Water: You're a seasoned competitor in the coffee community! How long have you been competing?
Kunie Inaba: I started working in coffee in the summer of 2013. My first competition was Coffee Fest World Latte Art Championship, 2014 in Chicago. My first SCA Canada Competition was latte art, 2015—I placed 4th in Canada. Since then I have done many competitions, latte art, AeroPress, Brewers Cup, and games like Leaderboard. In the past three years I competed in the SCA Canada Barista, Brewers, and Cup Tasters competitions. It's a lot lol!

SW: What drives you to compete?
KI: Of course I wanted to win 😊 and travel around the world. But always the main takeaway is learning! I am not great at dealing with stress in the preparation time. But if I don’t pressure myself, I don’t push hard enough to keep learning with all my effort.

SW: How has working in decaf helped your tasting and brewing skills?
KI: Cupping every day and sample roasting every day helped me to develop my palate, and understanding a little bit of the roasting side.

SW: Tell us about the coffee and gear you chose for the Brewers Cup.
KI: The coffee is El Paraiso Sake, a Colombia Geisha roasted by Hatch roasters in Markham, Ontario. It's a minimally fermented, washed process coffee with notes of sour candy and wildflower honey.

To brew, I'm using the Hario Switch and Mugen—Switch is an immersion brewer, Mugen is designed for one pour drip, so slow water flow. I combined the Switch base and Mugen dripper top. The Switch base allows me to choose pour-over or immersion. And Mugen plastic has good heat retention and reduces water bypass. Both together give me better control of my brew and consistent results.

SW: Besides your job at Swiss Water, do you still pull barista shifts around Vancouver?

KI: Yes. I will try to make more time to be on the bar! I love the Vancouver coffee community because most people are open and share knowledge and coffee with the community!

SW: Finally, what are you most looking forward to in Chicago besides the competition?
KI: Meeting all coffee celebrities!

See Kunie compete in the World Brewer’s Cup competition at the annual SCA Expo held next month in Chicago, Illinois.

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