PCCA’s 2006 Cupper of the Year Award

PCCA’s 2006 Cupper of the Year Award

October 10, 2006

This feels very odd and not at all comfortable for me to write this, but I am very excited; honored in fact.

In mid-September of this year the Pacific Coast Coffee Association (PCCA) held its 75th Anniversary celebration and convention at The Lodge at Pebble Beach, and over 180 people from the wide world of coffee were in attendance.  It was a fantastic convention and a fitting tribute to a wonderful coffee association.  As we all sat in the banquet room on the final night, Doug Welsh, President of the PCCA and Chief Buyer for Peet’s Coffee and Tea, prepared to announce the winner of the PCCA’s 6th Annual Pete McLaughlin Cupping Competition.  This competition, held annually in the Spring, honors the great contributions made by the late Pete McLaughlin to the specialty coffee industry and to the PCCA.  He was quite the energetic contributor to the PCCA and to all things coffee.  Although I unfortunately never had the pleasure of meeting Pete as his passing predates my entry into coffee, everyone I know who met or worked with him speaks very honorably of him as a person and as a contributor to specialty coffee.  The winner of this competition is held a secret until the annual convention.

I competed in three of these annual cupping competitions, including the recent 2006 event which involved 10 different Ethiopian coffees.  Well, to cut to the chase, as I was sitting there at dinner I was shocked to hear Doug announce “Michael Vournas” as the winner!  To be honest, I thought I was hearing things.  I stood up and walked to accept the award in front of a house full of coffee professionals – people whom I respect immensely and who continue, via the PCCA and through their sincere love of specialty coffee, to teach me about coffee every day.  To say I am honored to be awarded the PCCA Cupper of the Year is the understatement of the year.

I hope that many of you can attend future PCCA events, including the annual cupping competition.  The people who comprise the PCCA are one of the greatest groups of coffee professionals on the planet, and I owe many of them sincere thanks for teaching me.  I also owe a huge “thank you” to my little brother and business partner, Andrew, who has taught me firsthand how to cup coffees.  Hanging in our cupping room is the beautiful plaque I received from the PCCA.  It will remind me every day of how important and valued cupping is in our industry, keep me focused on the lifelong process of cupping skill development, and reinforce my belief that the contributions each one of us makes to others in coffee furthers the uniqueness of our trade.