Monday, June 22, 2009

Not Just Another Cuppa Joe

You sniff. You slurp. You spit. You evaluate based on various criteria: taste, acidity, aftertaste and body. Then there are flavor characteristics to consider. Green apples? Chocolate? Dirt?

Evan evaluating the aroma of the dry coffee.

What used be just a warm, dark elixir brought to me by Juan Valdez and his donkey and served to wake me up in the morning has turned into an art akin to making a fine Bordeaux or Burgundy. So when I heard that Ali and Evan at the Little Red Bike Cafe were hosting a cupping of Joel Domreis' Courier Coffee, I thought I'd drop in and check it out.

Joel discussing the fine points of the roast.

The cafe was packed with a crowd of young folk who seemed to be taking their coffee very seriously. They listened intently as Joel introduced the coffee we would be tasting, an organically grown Brazil Perdizes de Minas fazenda Nossa Senhora de Fatima. (Say that six times fast.) From the town of Perdizes in the Cerrado region of Minas Gerias, a state in Brazil, the coffee varietal was Icatu and had been imported by the Mercanta company of London. Joel had roasted it on six different days for different amounts of time to determine the preferred roast.

Lists in hand, we took in the aroma of the dried coffees arrayed before us, then watched as boiling water was poured over the grounds and waited as it steeped for three to four minutes. Then noses went close to the cap of grounds as the crust was broken (top photo) and the inhaling of the fragrance of the brewed coffee commenced.

After that the grounds were skimmed off and we were finally allowed to taste the coffee, and though spitting is normally the rule, I admit to swallowing a few gulps just to get the full effect. Discussion ensued, notes were compared and a certain geekiness prevailed, but the coffees were great and it was fascinating to taste the subtle differences between them.

For a sample of what a professional cupping is like, see my article on The New Portland Coffee Micro Roasters (scroll down to the last section).


Jacquelyn said...

YUM. Makes me miss my old job at a micro-roastery.

Kathleen Bauer said...

It was a really fun afternoon, and nice to finally meet Ali and Evan. Thanks for reading!