Creators Cup: Exploring innovations in coffee competitions

Esther Gibbs
December 26, 2023
Creators Cup, coffee competitions, Union Coffee, recyclable coffee bags

Coffee competitions have been around for years. Some of the most well-known competitions include the World Coffee Championships (WCC) and Coffee Master, which test coffee professionals in multiple disciplines. 

The accolade that accompanies being the champion in a discipline for your country, or even globally, can be career-changing. As a result, several businesses around the world now host smaller competitions, testing latte art, brewing techniques, and performance. 

One competition that stands out is the Creators Cup. Created in 2016 by Raf Mlodzianouski, the Creators Cup Competition has toured Greece, Russia, Belarus, and Poland. In 2023, it returned to its roots and was hosted at the new site of Colonna and Smalls in London.

To learn more about the Creators Cup and how this coffee competition highlights innovations in the specialty coffee industry, I spoke to this year’s winner, Jeremy Pyrch from Union Coffee

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Understanding the Creators Cup 

The idea behind the competition is for competitors to create and child a pour-over brewing device. It must be made from scratch, which means it cannot use any existing brewing device. The brewing device may also use any filter paper the competitor desires. 

The competition takes place in front of a panel of industry-leading judges who allocate points in two categories. The competitor who scores the highest overall is crowned the winner. However, there are also winners in the Best Brew and Best Design categories. 

Over the years, the Creators Cup has evolved into a celebration of unique and exciting brewing contraptions, encouraging coffee professionals to think outside of the box. This year, the competition was run by Q-grader and coffee consultant, Raf Mlodzianouski, with prizes sponsored by Minor Figures and The Right Roast.

Competitors used a Rwandan Peaberry from Omwani Coffee, roasted by Hope Espresso. Each is encouraged to use all manners of creativity to invent a new brewer and present it to judges and spectators. This year’s winner, Jeremy Pyrch used a 1kg recyclable coffee bag from Union Coffee, along with origami, to create a flat-pack coffee brewer. 

The brewer is made of two cut out parts of the recyclable coffee bag, which are then folded together. Notably, the flat-pack creation was able to brew a coffee which had a TDS of 1.38 and an extraction of 19.8%: the Gold Cup Standard according to the Specialty Coffee Associations (SCA) protocols. Jeremey explains how his experience in coffee led him to develop the 100% recyclable coffee brewer. 

“I’ve been in coffee for about 10 years, but my story started in hospitality. I love making a space inviting, cozy, and comfortable, ”he says. “When I spent time in Cambodia, I saw cafes being used as a force for good and that pushed me forward into coffee.” 

Jeremy is currently a barista trainer for Union Coffee, having made his way up from barista and manager. “One of my first managers in coffee inspired me by saying that ‘cafe service is about offering little moments of affirmation to the person in front of you with a handcrafted cup of coffee’ and that has always stuck with me.”

He admits that a colleague told him about the Creator’s Cup, encouraging him to enter and helping him brainstorm ideas. “Creating a coffee brewer is something I’ve thought about for a long time and it was just a wonderful impetus to make that happen,” Jeremy adds. 

Creators Cup, coffee competitions, Union Coffee, recyclable coffee bags

Combining coffee and origami: A flat pack coffee brewer

The idea he presented is called Blossom and Brew. “The inspiration for it was to have a brewer that was flat pack, easy to transport, and also conical,” he explains. “Over the years, I’ve bought a few that were packable, but some of them have some strange shapes once they’re put together. 

“I wanted something flat packed and offered a full cone experience. It also needed to be lightweight for consumers to travel with.” Jeremy has always been interested in origami. “It was something I turned to as a child, so that was always in the back of my head.”

Jeremey explains that he’s always enjoyed using found materials and “things that are recyclable and repurposed. That’s an expression of stewardship.” He adds that one aspect of the competition stated the brewer could be offered as part of the coffee packaging. “It could be a template for consumers to fold or cut out when the coffee is finished. There hasn’t been much conversation around it, but it’s a fun idea!” he says. 

Jeremy acknowledges there are more challenges than viability, but there is potential. “It requires a kilo coffee bag,” he says. “You can easily get both pieces out of a kilo bag, but that’s not necessarily accessible for someone who would use something like this. For instance, at-home brewers don’t usually need a kilo bag, and cafes that do use a wholesale kilo bag don’t need an easily transportable brewer. So, it’s kind of the wrong audience for the wrong brewer.”

Creators Cup, coffee competitions, Union Coffee, recyclable coffee bags, MTPak Coffee Packaging Design Awards, custom coffee bags, custom printed coffee bags

Why coffee competitions are essential

Competitions in coffee encourage players in the industry to push boundaries and challenge the norm. The Creators Cup, for example, allows them to try something new and for Jeremy, this was no different. 

“I love seeing innovation in coffee, whether it’s in growing, processing, roasting, or brewing,” he says. “The key to innovation is seeing a need. For me, this innovation behind the Blossom and Brew came about because of the question and desire I had. I wanted something packable, that I could travel with. Without that drive, I never would have designed it.”

“That said, even with that desire, I would never have had the impetus to create it,” Jeremy adds.  “The Creators Cup competition was crucial for that. It provided a time frame, which created the pressure to make that desire a reality. I needed both things to make the Blossom and Brew happen.” 

For coffee innovation, there first needs to be a problem that requires a solution. Then, there must be the pressure to create a solution. This highlights how a competition can be the perfect incubator for new ideas and solutions. 

If you’re feeling inspired by Jeremy’s creative coffee bag brewer, why not challenge yourself to enter the 2023 MTPak Coffee Packaging Design Awards? Through this award, we aim to champion coffee bag design excellence in the specialty coffee sector. 

We want to celebrate the beauty and artistry of specialty coffee packaging by inviting specialty coffee roasters to submit the designs of their custom printed coffee bags. With prizes up for grabs of $5,000 USD to continue building their business and setting an example for the coffee industry, or $15,000 in credit that can be redeemed on MTPak Coffee packaging and cups, you don’t want to miss out on a chance to celebrate and share the creativity within your brand. 

Enter today

Images courtesy of Mori Wang Photography

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