we had a fun cupping at little goat yesterday, with the help of mike horgan from stumptown coffee, who led the event and taught us all about the proper way to taste and cup coffee. stephanie had her first cupping experience in colombia, like a real coffee enthusiast, when she went down to check out the whole stumptown operation before partnering with them. read all about her visit to colombia here.
we tasted six different coffees that day, one from east africa, south america, a blend and then some other good ones. mike taught us that when cupping there are four things to be looking for in coffee:
- and finish
if you were to rate these on a scale from 1-10, it would give you a good visual representation of what you’re experiencing versus the other tasters in your group.
but wait, let’s back up. what is a cupping? a cupping is a formal coffee tasting (tuxedos/ball gowns not required). what are the steps? well…….
it starts with coffee grounds in bowls. from there, walk around and smell the coffee, shaking each bowl a little bit to agitate the grounds, and then smell the grounds. when tasting start with lighter or more balanced beans proceeding to wilder and more exotic.
second, pour hot water, try to get all wet at the same time, pouring the hot water to the top of the cup. let the grounds steep for four minutes, and after four minutes break the curst that has formed at the top of the cup. when you break it, make sure you capture some of the aromatics that gets released as the crust breaks. when you’re “capturing the aromatics,” get close and inhale as you’re doing it. don’t go too deep when you’re breaking the crust, you’ll disturb the resting grounds at the bottom of the cup.
the next step, taste with a spoon, don’t touch the grounds! when you dip the spoon in to the coffee, you’ll get just a little bit of coffee on the spoon, like a bit of soup that’s too hot. and like soup that is too hot, in a cupping, you are required to slurp the coffee. the slurping brings the flavor into olfactory senses, and it hits all the taste buds at once.
taste the coffee three times – once when it’s hot, once when it’s medium and once when it’s tepid. if the grounds have gone bad, you’ll be able to tell during the tasting when it’s tepid.
most cuppings have three bowls/tastes per bean: one taste from the top of the bag, the middle and the bottom of the bag. this ensures that there aren’t any rocks or sticks at the bottom of the bag, and all the beans, no matter where they are in the bag, are the same good quality.
something interesting that we learned was how to make a proper coffee blend…when creating a coffee blend pick one with high body, to hold up the milk, one with sweetness to make it delicious, and one with a floral/acidic note to give it character.
coffee beans come from coffee farms, all of which are located in more “tropical” feeling areas, somewhere between south mexico and bolivia/ecuador (that entire latitude band around the world) because the coffee beans can’t handle the frost. farms that are north of the equator are picked between may and july, and farms south are picked between november and january. after picking, they’re roasted to full caramelization, just long enough so you dont get the “roast” flavor, and then it’s shipped out fresh!