January 2016 Subscription Letter
One of our favorite duties as coffee buyers and roasters is cupping. Cupping is the act of formally evaluating and tasting coffee through each stage of the brewing cycle. We start the cupping process by inspecting and evaluating the coffee in whole bean form to get a sense of roast level, fragrance, and any potential roasting defects that might have occurred. Scorching (burning) and tipping (excessive heat applied to one portion of the bean) are two of the most common defects at this stage.
The second phase of cupping is one of the most fun. We grind each coffee (12g of coffee per cup) to a medium fine grind, and evaluate the dry fragrance of the bean. Many coffees tend to show off their fruity and sweet aromatic notes at this stage, and you’ll often experience notes that don’t carry through all the way to the cup (like floral or herbal notes). The first tasting note on Tinker Coffee bags typically comes from the dry fragrance.
Once we’ve had the chance to smell the coffee and evaluate the dry fragrance, we fill our cupping cups with water (we use 8oz cups) and allow the coffee to begin brewing. We call this the blooming stage, and we allow the coffee to brew undisturbed for about 5 minutes. During the 5 minutes of brewing we evaluate the wet aromas of the coffee, which can sometimes be completely different than the fragrance we experienced when the coffee was dry. After 5 minutes have passed, we “break the crust” of the coffee by pushing the layer of grinds that have formed on the top of the cup to the side and smelling the released aromas which had been trapped underneath the crust.
After breaking the crust of each cup, we then scoop off all the excess grounds from the top of the cup, leaving the grounds that have sunk to the bottom untouched. This allows the coffee to continue the extraction process for a few more minutes, helping ensure we get a proper flavor expression in our evaluation. We then let the coffee sit for an additional 7 minutes (12 minutes of total brew time) before taking our cupping spoons (like a small soup spoon) and sluuuurrrrping the coffee. We slurp the coffee just like you’d slurp soup, and we do this to aspirate the coffee across our palate so that the coffee touches as many flavor and taste receptors as possible. This also gives us a sense of the mouthfeel of the coffee, which could be “buttery” or “clean,” or a whole host of other possibilities.
We’ve included a coffee tasting notebook in your subscription box this month to help you keep track of all your coffee tasting experiences, be it through cupping or simply enjoying a cup at home. By taking thoughtful notes of your coffee experiences, you can begin to develop a sense of your flavor preferences in coffee, which can be incredibly helpful as you explore new coffee origins. If cupping sounds fun to you, don’t forget your can sign up for a cupping class with us here at the roaster! Classes are held most Sundays at 11:00am and reservations are required.
NEW COFFEE ALERT! This month we included our latest coffee from Fazenda Mariano in Brazil proving that delicious, well cared for coffee can come from Brazil! Cup it out. We taste butterscotch, golden apple & almond butter