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Posts Tagged ‘Zoo’

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.

-Melanie

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