Tuesday 23 July 2024
  • La Cimbali

Dionatan  Almeida,  the best  cup taster in the world: “I believe this title  puts Brazil  in the spotlight”

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MILAN – Dionatan Almeida is this year’s cup tasting world champion. His origins lie in the world’s leading coffee producer, Brazil, and his professionalism led him to the world title. How, why and what made him the most capable palate on the globe, he explains directly to readers.‘

Almeida, you are the first Brazilian to win this world title in the cup tasting category: what does it mean to take Brazil, the leading coffee producer, to the roof of the tasting world?

“Representing my country in a World Cup was incredible, regardless of the result, just having this opportunity was one of the greatest honors of my life, but bringing the world title to Brazil is indescribable. I believe that this title puts Brazil in the spotlight, we are already recognized as the largest producer, now we are also recognized by great professionals in the coffee field, in addition to, of course, the quality of our product.”

Why did you choose to compete in the cup tasting category and was it your first attempt?

“Well, Cup Taster has always fascinated me, I’ve been a coffee taster since 2015, when I took my first steps in this career, I’m a quality coordinator at the Caxambu and Aracaçu farms and I’m passionate about what I do, so a national level competition and world championship that puts coffee tasters to the test, it really is something incredible for me.

My first experience in the Brazilian championship was in 2022, in which I came in third place and in my second participation in 2023 I was champion, which qualified me for the world championship that took place in 2024 in Chicago USA, where I had the great happiness of being champion.”

Let’s take a step back: what do you do in the coffee business? And did your professional experience help you to tackle the championship?

“Hello, I’m Dionatan Antunes de Almeida, I’m from Três Pontas, in the south of Minas Gerais – Brazil. I started working with coffee in 2011 at the age of 16, I started working on coffee farms, in 2015 I started learning about coffee tasting and in 2016 I took over quality control at the Caxambu and Aracaçu farms, where I still work today. I believe that my journey in coffee was very important in achieving this title, as I had the opportunity to learn and have contact from the planting of the coffee to its finalization in the cup.”

Tell us about your competition: was it faster or more precise?

“The level was really high, great competitors with beautiful performances, which generated great interest for everyone. In the first phase, many competitors got all eight triangles right and another large portion got 7 triangulations right like me, everyone was proving very fast, I qualified for the quarter-finals in 16th place, I almost missed out, so I understood that it wouldn’t be enough to just get it right all cups, but also be as quick as possible.”

The cup tasting race is above all a race against oneself: did you beat yourself during the race?

“Yes, the Cup Taster is a championship that not only requires a lot of preparation, but also to surpass ourselves during the competition. As I said above, everyone was finishing the tests very quickly, so I had to change my strategy, speeding up even more than I had trained, but luckily I managed to do well.”

What did you focus on to train your palate? Did you use any special techniques or methods?

“Practicing every day and with varied coffee profiles, being 7 days before the competition in the USA, gave me the opportunity to train with coffees from different countries, which was fundamental in preparing for the world cup. It was also important to pay attention to my diet, hydrating myself as much as possible, avoiding spicy foods and alcoholic drinks.”

Almeida, did mental steadiness play a key role in your competition?

“Yes, the psychological factor is decisive in Cup Tasters. It is possible to train your sense of taste, increasingly sharpening your sensory skills. On the other hand, using these skills in pressure and adrenaline situations is quite difficult, which is why mental stability is so important for the competitor in this category.”

What was your greatest difficulty at the World Championships and what was your greatest success?

“I believe that the experience itself was my first time in another country, another climate, another language, cuisine, culture, in short, a lot to process at once.

But I had great support from friends, from the Caxambu and Aracaçu farms, from the Brazilian specialty coffee association (BSCA), Apex Brasil, my coach and I couldn’t forget to mention Tim Taylor, who opened the doors of his roasting facility to us, gave us coffee and training equipment.

Regarding the greatest success, for me, having surpassed my best times during the competition was certainly fundamental to winning the world championship.”

Almeida, in your opinion, can one really become a champion just by training or do you feel that you also have a good genetic predisposition to tasting?

“Whenever there is determination, focus and training, things become possible, believing in our potential is extremely important for everything we want in our lives. Being passionate about coffee certainly makes it a lot easier, because it’s not just about competing, but about having fun doing what we love, in my case, representing an entire country that’s passionate about coffee.”

And now with this world title, what are your goals?

Almeida: “Well, the idea is now to move forward with some projects, some socially focused, such as providing tasting training for young people, introducing the world of specialty coffees and discovering new talents. Also carry out training for those interested in the world of coffee, mainly in the area of tasting. And last but not least, disseminate Brazilian coffees, all the quality of our product and also of the professionals who are here.”

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