I love coffee especially Bulletproof Coffee. So when I heard Third Coast Coffee (where I buy all my coffee, Guatemala is my favorite) was having a coffee cupping I was really intrigued and decided to sign up.
I had never been to a coffee cupping before so I did a little pregame research and found Michael Griffin’s great post over at INeedCoffee.com about coffee cupping and proper cupping technique.
Cupping is the technique used by cuppers to evaluate the flavor profile of a coffee. To understand the minor differences between coffee growing regions, it is important to cup coffees from around the world side by side. Cupping is also used to evaluate a coffee for defects or to create coffee blends.
Once, I arrived at Third Coast I was greeted cordially by everyone then handed a clipboard to record my findings. We entered a cozy room with a round table in the middle. The table was split in half by 10 glasses, 5 on each side, filled with grounds from two flavors. The first part of the cupping involved evaluating the aroma, much like smelling a wine before tasting it. The point of this step is to see how accurately the aroma represents the actual flavor of the coffee.
The next step was pouring hot water in the cups and then smell the mixture. The key here is to break the head made by the hot water and grounds with your nose as close to the grounds as possible. The reason for this is that the aroma is the most potent the instant the head is broken for the first time, but dissipates quickly thereafter.
The last part of the cupping was slurping the coffee. Before you do this you need to clear out the head made by the hot water and grounds. There is a two-spoon technique for novices, but I was told that the real “pros” can easily clear out the grounds with just one spoon…I am obviously a two-spooner 😉 Once the cups are cleared you can go around and slurp small spoonfuls (don’t swallow) of each cup to evaluate the flavor in reference to the aroma you identified earlier, but remember to wash the spoon off before moving to the next cup. No one likes a double dipper.
Pro tip: It is important to aspirate strongly since you are trying to cover the entire tongue at the same time. – Michael Griffin
My first coffee cupping was sensational! Hillary, Joe and all the people were super friendly. I ended up shooting a little bit during the cupping and grabbed some interesting shots. One of my faves is of Joe intensely evaluating the aroma. P.S. How incredible is it that the Roaster is named Joe! Very Seinfeldesque.
Overall, my experience was incredibly positive and I will definitely be returning for another cupping at Third Coast Coffee. I want to give a special thanks to Joe for showing me around his workshop and explaining so much! It is so invigorating to talk to people who truly love what they do. Thanks a lot amigo!
For those of you interested in future cuppings at Third Coast Coffee in Austin, TX all the info will be at TCCR.co/events.
Have you been to a cupping before? Any tips for cupping rookies? What are some of your favorite blends? Leave some love in the comments.