Local coffee shop launches annual coffee contest with a trip to Guatemala as this year's top prize

Imagine 300 people tasting the exact same coffee at the exact same time--or as close to it as possible, at least.

That’s the goal of Andrew Heppner, founder of downtown Bay City’s Populace Coffee.

Heppner has launched Flight of Fancy, his annual blind coffee tasting competition. Launched in 2014, this year’s iteration offers the biggest grand prize yet: an all expenses paid trip to Guatemala.

The first 300 people to purchase the Flight of Fancy coffee kit by Thursday, Jan. 31 will then be mailed four mystery coffees. Entrants will be tasked with matching each of the coffees to one of eight corresponding origin locations on a map.

The grand prize winner will receive a trip to Guatemala, where Onyx Green Coffee will host trips to different farms and cities on a coffee-tasting journey of the region.

Secondary prizes include a Baratza Sette 270 + Acaia Lunar Scale, Department of Brewology Bloom Series Prints, Fellow Stagg EKG and three Atmos Vacuum Canisters, Kruve Sifter 12, five Ebb Coffee Filters, and a handground coffee grinder.

Previous grand prizes have included commercial coffee grinders and at-home espresso machines.

This is by far the biggest prize yet, says Heppner.

"This is the one that we’ve wanted to do the entire time. We work with Onyx on their Guatemalan coffees. We pitched the idea and they were open to it," he says.

"Let’s utilize the coffee community and get them doing the same thing, 300 people all drinking the exact same coffees."

The Flight of Fancy competition allows Populace to not only reach coffee lovers in Bay City, but throughout the country. Heppner says that previous contests have had entrants from Washington to Maine, California to Florida.

Visit Flight of Fancy online to enter.

Populace Coffee is located at 810 Saginaw St. in Bay City.

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