Posts Tagged ‘cupping’

2/26 Logs and Figures

Coffee/espresso drinks: 90
Bathroom stops: 79
4:30 pm: 2000 miles

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

2/28 New Orleans Roasters

In a city that is a major port for coffee importing, there was a fairly small amount of independent coffee roasters pre-Katrina. Post Katrina there are even fewer. Bob Arceneaux and the Coffee Roasters of New Orleans was the first roasting facility to re-open post-storm. Knowing that a storm was approaching Bob and other employees has lined the entrances to the building and the parameters of the coffee roasters with sand bags. In the end the sandbags mostly served to keep the water in after the storm. Their first day back in the building was spent scooping mud and crawfish out of their machines.

Coffee Roasters of New Orleans quickly sent their bright yellow roaster off to the US Roaster Exchange to be refurbished. They borrowed a roaster, rented some space at higher elevation and got right back to work.

Here are their beautiful borrowed San Franciscans!
roaster roaster! p2280310.jpg


Bob gave us a tour of the facilities and even let us have a rare glance at the only items that remain from the old location:

spoon, bowl, Bob


We spent the last hour of our time with them cupping two different Sumatran coffees. Roasters cup for a number of reasons, in this case we were cupping to decide which bean they liked better, in order to start carrying and selling that selection. Each coffee was roasted medium and dark. As coffee is roasted the flavors change and develop. In order to give each coffee a “fair chance” its roasted both ways, some coffees will taste better as a medium and some as a dark roast.

The glamorous side of cupping:


We could not leave New Orleans with out at least seeing the French Quarter. Strolling the old city streets in the mid-day sunshine was a perfect pleasure. We sampled some of Café Du Monde’s chicory au lait and beignets, watched adorable street performers, and saw a door Sara’s mom would adore. While we ate Po’boys at Brangelina’s favorite dive, Denali had some fun of his own.

who did that?

adorable doors


denali and the beads p2280353.jpg

Driving through Louisiana, a little red sign stating “Coffee House” drew us a little further off the highway then we normally would go. We found a collection of old houses selling coffee and pottery, and offering a sense of nostalgia. Denali bonded with the chef and we saw a real live alligator!


p2280379.jpg nostalgic

be carefull Denali alligator!!!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Logs and Figures:

– We ponder Geaux Green signs in Baton Rouge…Go Green!
-6:15 pm we cross into Mississippi
-8:51 pm enter Texas at exit 877 (possibly the highest exit # we will ever see).

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Driving into the Texas night we see the dim glow of city lights. Our curiosity aroused we consult the atlas to determine our location. Curiouser and curiouser, there is no city marked for miles. We crest a hill to see the orange lights splaying out far into the northern darkness and muting the stars. What is this space? What necessitates apartment buildings and football fields of orange electricity? Something unnatural is occurring here. Approaching the sci-fi city, a strange concoction of awe, fear and foreboding dominate the conversation. Deep into the monochrome maze a small white lights shines on blue writing “Goodyear”. Passing though the factory, the sound of our wheels rings loud and clear, guilt and compliance.

We are silenced.

Read Full Post »

Gearing up.

Count Down to Departure Day: 2 weeks exactly:

14 days!
Back to the gear:

This weekend my Dad and I trekked over to CampMor in New Jersey to get some camping gear. I picked up a TENT, a sleeping bag, a sweet sleeping pad, plus a collapse-able 2.5 gallon water container (to counter the copious coffee consumption).

The tent was a holiday gift from my Dad (Thank you!) Part of the present was getting to score some quality time with Pops which is why it was a delayed present.

Last night I was like a small child on Christmas day – I pitched the tent in my living room, put the sleeping bag and pad inside, got in the sleeping bag and made my parents come appreciate all my new gear with me inside it. It was really fun – I promise. I sat in the tent for a solid half-hour being happy before I started to feel smothered by my super warm sleeping bag.

Sara promised she and I would have a sleepover in the tent before we hit the road. However, in retrospect, with the “new-gear-high” wearing off, I think I want to spend as much time as possible in my own super-cosy bed. (If you have read our bios’, you’ll know I’m serious about my bed.)

In other news: I was able to attend another cupping this afternoon. Sara couln’t come, she was working at Coffee Labs.

I went down to Gimme! on Mott St, where Taylor Mork was offering up some Ugandan Coffee from Crop to Cup. We tasted two coffees, each one in a light roast version and a dark roast version. Plus two coffees someone brought in from Intelligentsia; a Rwandan and a Colombian.

cupping-line-up.jpg croptocup5010.jpg

The space was small and there were a lot of people, but I was happy to recognize a number of faces from the last NY event I attended (Hi, Mary!).  Including Casey, another barista from Coffee Labs.

I had a clear favorite, (the second set, for those at the event) my only complaint is that I wish the taste stayed longer in my mouth. Once I slurped, it was quite delicious, light, I tasted a deep amber honey (?) but for a very brief, unsatisfying amount of time.

It was good for me to attend a public cupping. All the cuppings I have been to were very small, private and geared towards my learning. I am still really intimidated to talk about my impressions of coffee in public – I remained practically silent at the cupping. In fact, I am even embarrassed about writing my description here. But it’s all part of the learning curve, so I want ya’ll to be able to read it. There is a good bit of terminology in describing coffee: brightness, acidity, mouth feel, etc.. and I’m still teasing out what all the different descriptors mean. I could tell you what they mean, but tasting it is a different story.

Let the count down begin…


PS: Everyone say “Hi Sara!”


Read Full Post »

Sniff and Slurp

SLuuuuuuRP! – “It tastes like sawdust from a barn”

A bubbly inhale – “This one is like sand paper”

Slosh – “I’m getting bakers chocolate”

Spit – “Tomato sauce with lemon”

This morning I had the chance to participate in a super-fun and incredibly informative coffee cupping at Coffee Labs (say that 10 times fast!).

As part of her training and development at Coffee Labs (CL) Sara gets to participate in periodic “cuppings”. Cuppings for roasters are the rough equivalent of wine tastings for sommeliers. Here are links to two sites on cupping: one for a more detailed description of the process and another to Counter Culture Coffee’s virtual cupping room where you can read some of the adjectives that can accompany coffee. Thanks to Rasheed Jabr, the CL manager and Doug Wray the CL roaster for letting me crash the party!

Doug the RoasterHere’s Doug slurping…

Sara, Will (another CL staffer) and I sniffed, scooped, slurped and spit our way through three samples of Peru Norte. This particular coffee is full bodied, fair trade, shade grown and bird friendly.

Doug essentially “narrated” the event while we sampled beans from three different stages in the roasting process. While roasting, Doug pulled beans at times that were “way to early”, “a little to early” and “just right”. Goldie Locks, anyone? (Times and temps in the Geek-Out section at the bottom). He introduced each of the roasts and as we sipped we declared, sometimes tentatively, what our tongues were detecting. “Can coffee really taste like the smell of Giraffes at the zoo?”

Learning Moment: Cuppings usually happen in silence to prevent people from influencing each others “read” of the coffee. The silence is perfect when you know your way around a cupping table, but for a novice like myself it can be pretty intimidating. Today, Doug took notes on what we were saying and helped us develop a concise description of each sample.

During the cupping I gained an even greater appreciation for the mastery that is roasting. The coffee tasted incredibly different as we moved further along in its roasting time. The coffee bean, as it develops in a roaster has a clear path: first its hardly heated, it then moves up to an internally tumultuous adolescence, next it hits its prime perfection peak, after which it quickly falls off a cliff into a burnt waste land of over-roasted despair.

Its up to the roaster to know whats happening in the barrel and pull the bean as it peaks to capture the best qualities of that particular batch. The more I learn about roasting, the more intensely fascinated I am with that part of the process. I could watch someone roast all day long. (I also want to thank the crew of Mocha Joe’s for a great night of small batch roasting and subsequent cupping a few weeks back!)

Coffee Geek-Out Moment:

The beans first crack was at 374 degrees. Our first sample was taken at 11 minutes – 400 degrees, the second sample at 13 minutes – 410 degrees, and the last at 16 minutes and 441 degrees.


Read Full Post »