Why you should pay over 100€ for a coffee advent calendar.
Updated: Dec 12, 2022
Every year during christmas season, the coffee gifts pop out from every corner. From branded mugs to the classic christmas coffee blend, it is a very busy time for the coffee industry.
One of the most requested items are coffee advent calendars. Preferably 24 little doses of coffee to stay well caffeinated during the christmas season.
When I researched some specialty coffee calendars on the market, prices varied from 30-90€ and the coffees used in it were usually in the points range between 81-86.
Until I found the ‘Dear Judges’ advent calendar. 24 x 15g of exquisite specialty coffee, chosen by 2 coffee professionals with impressive CVs.
Reason enough for me to find out a little bit more about this project!
What does “Dear Judges” mean?
“Dear Judges” as a brand was my idea of bringing the coffees that normally only competitors and judges at coffee competitions would taste to a wider audience and coffee lovers.” said Janina, founder of “Dear Judges”. She also told me: “ I roast on a Stronghold S7 in 500g batches. I find this is the perfect batch size for tasting sets. The roaster is in the basement of my house."
Who are the people behind the ‘Dear Judges’ advent calendar?
Janina Łaszkiewicz aka Jane Lash is a qualified World Coffee Events judge for Brewers Cup and Roasting, AST in brewing, sensory and roasting, a home-roaster for the ‘Dear Judges’ brand and an absolute coffee geek. Jane also coaches for Brewers Cup and can help adjust someone’s brewing recipes literally in messages or by the phone.
Łukasz Gałęcki aka LukMasterBrewing is the Community Manager and Editor at European Coffee Trip, Communication, Support and Events Handler at Comandante Grinder and the Polish Barista Ambassador of Alpro. He is based in Warsaw, Poland but frequently on the road and certified in brewing and sensory skills. He organizes coffee tastings, workshops, and helps coordinate events and championships.
The two coffee professionals have known each other for more than 5 years and consider themselves as “good and truly veracious friends that worked together on various coffee projects.”
I personally know Lukasz from social media and Janina as one of my Judges from the 2021 World Brewers Cup in Milan. If it comes to sourcing some great coffee, those two definitely have great connections!
When I asked them what motivated them to release the calendar, Janina said: “We got the Idea after the World Coffee Championships in Melbourne that were super close to the Polish competitions and we just had the opportunity to get as much high class coffee as never before! On top of that, the new Panama harvest was about to drop as well and we contacted a very famous farm from Colombia as well, who promised us some high class coffee.”
Lukasz tells me: “I have to admit that the initial idea was fully Jane's, I was there to be the pragmatic voice of common sense and scale the project to our capabilities. Because we wouldn't be really able to produce 100-200 calendars and the 24 calendars we did at the end were already very challenging for us."
As a Barista that is well connected, even I have a lot of trouble finding and sourcing the best coffee I know from time to time.
So how did the 2 find the 24 different coffees for the calendar?
Janina told me: “ I asked some friends around for more green and my friend Kaapo, Barista Champion of Finland, had some great beans coming in as well. It seemed like getting 24 different coffees together wasn't impossible.
When we decided to announce the calendar, we didn’t really have a plan when it came to packaging and not a full list of coffees yet. We had a basic idea of the coffee we wanted to feature and we calculated a budget that only included green, deliveries, packaging and taxes. The ‘Dear Judges’ Advent calendar is a 100% non profit project!”
After the two tried some different packaging options like bottles, small bags or jars they decided to use traditional sample bags, as they minimized the oxidation of the coffees and helped preserve them fresh for longer.
Eventually they also had to overcome some difficulties as Janina explained to me.
“We were having big hopes on some known Colombian producers to send their coffees on time but unfortunately they never did. We also had the worst nightmare when it came to logistics. What should have taken 2-4 days delivery time ended up being stuck at customs or very expensive, but luckily some befriended roasters helped us out and sent us roasted coffee. This way we ended up with way more roasted coffee than expected and way less Colombian.”
Whilst Lukasz helped figure out the visual aspects, graphic design of details and social media coverage, he also had to pack the coffee and it took him a lot of physical work putting the coffee calendars together. “I still need a good back massage after that (!!!) :D” he told me.
After most of the problems were mastered, both of them celebrated with a bottle of German Riesling Kabinett 1990 and chocolates from UK based bean to bar producers Solkiki. “A true Sensory warm up for our Competition Coffees Calendar.” said Janina.
When I asked Janina how many competition coffees are in the calendar, she said: “There is no such thing as Competition Coffee. Meaning there is nothing like a magic type of coffee you use in competitions and win. In some ways our calendar highlights some premium producers, varieties that everyone buzzes about or coffees that won some grading events.”
In her eyes, the calendar is more of a help to any coffee person to see what is on the market right now. It can help expand your sensory experiences and at the end, it is just a very delicious experience, drinking 24 exclusive coffees.
Lukasz added: “For me personally, the coffee calendar is a networking and educational project. It's connecting people who seek competition-level beans with producers and roasters and at the same time, we all can enjoy some great coffee together. In the end, I would like our subscribers to remember not only "almost a month of drinking expensive coffees" but remember the people who stand behind these coffees. Because they are the ones who made these beans so special."
How to brew these coffees?
When I opened my first “door” I weighed the dose that was in the package. It was 15g of a blend of Colombia La Palma & El Tucan Sidra natural and I was already very impressed with the quality of this calendar. But how to brew such a small dose without ending up with a only semi good brew?
I learned a great recipe when I was in Australia, working with my friends from ONA and I want to share it with you here!
I use 28 clicks on a Comandante or actually a similar grind size on my KINU grinder.
Then I split my pours in 5 equal stages, always allowing the water to completely pass through.
5x 45g= a total of 225 ml 92C° water.
My ideal extraction time is between 2:30 and 3 minutes.
I am more than happy that I paid a bit more than 120€ for 360g of coffee because it is absolutely worth it. I am currently drinking coffee number 7, a honey processed Geisha from Colombia, Finca La Colombia, roasted by The Naughty Dog in Prague from the former World Champion Gwilym Davis! The coffees I have tried so far have been quite exceptinal and my favourite was the Sudan Rume from Friedhats, Lex Wenneker.
A excellent currated coffee experience! Follow @jlbrewing , @dearjudges and @lukmasterbrewing and keep up with their future releases! It is definitely worth it! Also, Schrödi loves it.... he wanted to be in every picture.