Less than a year ago my husband and I took an Intro to Cupping workshop at Pacific Coffee Research, which I blogged about. We learned a lot but were also overwhelmed and intimidated … not by the nice people at PCR, but by the cupping process. We knew we were interested in having our coffee cupped, but we wanted to wait for the second season’s coffee, because we know our coffee will be improving year to year.
So we recently had our coffee cupped and our green (unroasted) beans graded and analyzed. They did this without us around. They’re supposed to be quiet and not influence each other’s observations. We got our information back from PCR, and we think the results were solid. Right now our idea is to go through this process with each season’s coffee, because it’s an outside, independent party following a standardized protocol to make a subjective process quantitative and objective. In a few years we’d like to enter a coffee cupping competition as a learning experience.
We got back the remaining sorted green beans and roasted-for-cupping beans. When professionals cup, they roast the coffee much lighter than we drink it. When we took the cupping class, PCR was going to include our coffee with the other coffees, but unfortunately their sample roaster was broken at the time. So this is the first time we’ve tried our coffee this way.
Hubby and I were left to our own devices, armed with our notes from our PCR class last year, to cup the coffee. There is a 16-step protocol in our class notes, which we actually mostly followed. But the class was taken a while ago, and we hadn’t practiced the protocol until now, so some things were forgotten; mistakes were made. We quickly learned one lesson — if you’re using a measuring cup, warm it up prior to wetting all the grounds. If we had the exact same cupping cups, and did this enough, we could’ve just poured from our kettle directly into the cups instead of introducing a measuring cup in between. We saw that the first cup probably had cooler water than the 200°, so I introduced a flaw fairly early on.
We took our notes on dry aroma, wet aroma, and then all the various parameters. We didn’t give a final score, because we don’t know how to assign absolute numbers. Still, it was a first step at cupping and trying to evaluate and remember our coffee. We’d have to practice much more for this to really be useful.
In any case, I’ll share our coffee descriptors from the two professionals:
Professional #1: (+) Dark Chocolate, Toasted spices, Bittersweet Chocolate, Hint red fruit, Compote, Nutty, Malic Acid
Professional #2: (+) Nutty, Chocolate, Hint red fruit, Dark Chocolate, Sweet cream, Toasted almond, Brown Sugar
What do you taste in our coffee?