Cuppin’ Da Bea’s Knees

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?

Kahlúa Pig Coffee Cocktail

Some people just love to tinker. In the kitchen, in the lab, in the workshop, on the computer. My long-time friend, Joe, just spontaneously experiments with food and drink, often with a zany sense of fun. He can meticulously tinker, as well. He can cook inventive, delicious, elaborate multi-course meals. He knows various techniques and has many kitchen skills. But what stands out in my mind are the impulsive, almost irreverent, break-the-rules moments. Leftover bottles or glasses of different wine at the end of a party? He might toss them all — red, white, whatever — in a glass and, with a few mouth-filling swishes, taste his special blend.

He did the coffee equivalent with our coffee. He brewed another type of coffee he had; and with our coffee, he machine brewed it and also made a pour-over. He sipped each, then he just tossed them altogether. Sipped, swished & swallowed. Paused to reflect & absorb. Then added ingredients that, in his opinion, will always improve coffee … half and half and sweetener. Joe will doctor his Joe how he likes and enjoy it. So there!

He also loves to whip up cocktails. So I challenged him to come up with recipes with our coffee, whether cold brew, iced coffee, or hot brew. We’ll see.

I admire Joe’s impulsiveness, since I’m more of a recipe follower (careful, predictable), and he’s like a super-hero alter-ego (carefree, bold, daring) with ever-present, wacky humor. If you like recipes, to follow or to use as inspiration, here are some creative cold brew recipes from the Perfect Daily Grind.

Here’s another: How to make cold brew, plus 20 extra recipes for tricking out your cold brew from Home Grounds. In the long article, there’s an FAQ about how to make cold brew without a cold brewer, which has always been my situation. I use the Mason jar technique or AeroPress, but I also don’t drink a lot of cold brew except mostly out of curiosity. How to make cold brew is addressed in our FAQs. Did you know we have FAQs? It’s under the “About” menu item.

If you haven’t already read the blog post about the AeroPress, you might want to check it out. If you can’t remember the iconic earlier invention of the AeroPress inventor, maybe you should skim the article again.

AND, last but not least, here’s the first of Joe’s recipes, the Kahlúa Pig Coffee

4 oz Bea’s Knees Kona coffee
1 oz Kahlúa Coffee Liqueur
2 oz Maui Brewing Company Coffee Coconut Porter beer
Optional splash of creamer of your choice
(Serve piping hot or iced)
1 strip of candied bacon, laid across the top

After giving me the recipe, he said it needs to be iced, and needs a splash of whiskey. He also wrote, “not quite delicious enough.” I hope that means he’ll still fiddle with it! Great recipes often arise from dissatisfaction and/or kitchen mistakes. Thank you, Big Joe (AKA, Big Kahuna Kahlua Joe)!!

Which Roast Has More Caffeine?

Do you think the lighter the roast, the more the caffeine? A few years ago I didn’t know, and since then my take-away learning was that a lighter roast has more caffeine. Recently, a friend shared this article with me from Scribblers Coffee, “Which Has More Caffeine: Light or Dark Roast?” He said the article’s answer was different than what a Kona farm told him. (My quick answer to myself was also “light roast.”) After I read the article, which answered the question comprehensively, the answer (“it depends”) made sense to me. I knew many of the various facts that come into play, but still in my mind I had distilled it all to the simple answer.

I happen to be reading Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow. Answering “Which roast has more caffeine?” gave myself a perfect example of how we like the quick, easy answer. From the description on the back of the book, “Kahneman reveals where we can and cannot trust our intuitions and how we can tap into the benefits of slow thinking.”

Kahneman assigns the label System 1 for our automatic, quick thinking that requires little or no effort and no sense of voluntary control. System 2 is associated with our deliberate, calculated, concentrated thinking. The book formula, simplified, is that the author gives you a fun, relatable example choice/quiz, which illustrates when the different “systems” come into play, sometimes to our disadvantage. After you’re humbled when you fall into the thinking trap the author’s trying to demonstrate, you’re curious and ready to receive the following discussion/explanation. The book is over 400 pages, and it isn’t light reading, though it is if you compare it to the papers these types of academics usually write. You’ll probably need coffee to stay alert to follow the book. I like to read these types of books when I have insomnia, because I want to read them, but they aren’t beach reading. If I read during a wake spell, either I eventually get sleepy or I make progress in the book. It takes a little of the bite out of insomnia.

There you go. Maybe you’ve learned a little about caffeine in coffee if you read the linked article, you have a book recommendation, and you’ve learned one example for dealing and coping with insomnia. One thing I’ve learned with this blog is that I can start with something related to coffee, and from there I can go all over the place!

Some Changes in 2020

Greetings and Hau’oli Makahiki Hou in 2020! We hope you were able to spend some special, meaningful time over the holidays, and that you’re feeling optimistic about this year, decade, and beyond.

We have a few administrative changes to let you know about. You should not be seeing our coffee with the little circle sticker 100% Kona seal anymore. There has been no change to our coffee. We are still 100% Kona. However, we decided not to renew our membership with the Kona Coffee Council, and therefore can’t use the seal. We are still members of the Kona Coffee Farmers Association. We may or may not use their seal.

We will be raising our shipping prices by a dollar starting in February to reflect the United States Postal Service flat rate shipping changes taking effect at the end of January. We set our shipping prices in 2018 and then the USPS rates went up a few months afterward. Since they’re going up again, we are changing our rate this time. We still offer you free shipping with orders of five pounds or more.


Coincidentally, this post ties in well to last week’s. Today I had a special treat of spontaneously visiting a cafe I had never heard of or been to, with a friend who had recently discovered it. They serve specialty coffee in handmade ceramics. For me, it’s a delight to drink coffee out of a handmade cup that I visually appreciate and enjoy holding. There are those “I need coffee!!” times, and then there are the moments you really sink in and enjoy coffee.

What is it for you?

By yourself in the quiet of the early morning, before the rest of the household is stirring?

With others?

When you visit a favorite relative in the afternoon (grandparents come to mind), and she/he serves coffee and a special baked goodie?

As the final flourish at the end of a satisfying multi-course dinner out? (for those with low sensitivity to caffeine …)

When you’re out for breakfast?

When you go to your weekly meetup with your peeps?

When you’re on vacation?

After the rest of the family heads off for the day, and you finally have time for yourself?

When it’s cold, grey, and dreary outside?

It’s a snow day?

An easy-to-blow-by experience like a cup of coffee is an opportunity to delight in a brief moment of pleasure and indulgence in your day.

Don’t you want it to also be a good cup of coffee?