Yesterday I flew to Seattle to attend the opening of Novus Coffee Importers new facility. Neil organized a coffee cupping (tasting) event during the afternoon with a party starting after work hours.
For those not in the know, think me, yesterday morning, coffee cupping is as much science as art. Specific quantities of coffee are ground to exacting specification, then added to small cups, which are about the size of a good coffee mug.
The aroma of the ground coffee is then assessed, after which, a specific amount of water at a specific temperature is added to each cup.
After 4 minutes participants use their cupping spoon to stir the coffee three times, with a gentle back and forth motion to break the crust on the top of the coffee. The back of the spoon is then sniffed, noting any characteristics aromas. In about 15 minutes, after the coffee has cooled, two spoons are used to skim the floating crust from each cup. The cups are now ready for the cupping.
Each participant uses their spoon to take a small sample from one of the cups. With a strong slurp both coffee and air are sucked into the mouth, noting flavors and aroma. An optional spit cup can be used to keep the participant from getting too wired.
For those in “the know,” which means those who know what they are doing, a cupping sheet is available to record the flavors and aromas found in each coffee. My level of expertise is to indicate “I like it” and “I don’t like it” and finally, “Yup, that tastes exactly like coffee.”
Cupping at Novus Coffee Importers was interesting, educational and entertaining. The staff are incredibly knowledgeable, with experts from every aspect of the coffee industry.