Mittwoch, 7. Januar 2009

Cupping coffee

I love cupping coffee. I love the in-your-face tastes and aromas that this method of drinking (or analyzing) coffee gives you, the overwhelming sensations you get when slurping, and if you forget to spit, the overcaffeinated funkyness afterwards. The totally obvious difference from coffee to coffee or roast to roast, as well as the very subtle similarities. The pure pleasure every sip gives you. Yet at the same time, I have major difficulties in describing what I taste, what I smell and what I see. I find it very hard to exactly point out what is it I taste in a specific coffee, and how it develops during cooling. As a bonus, I still (after all the years) haven't really grasped what the term 'chocolate' means in a coffee. There are so many different tastes in chocolate that I find it hard to say 'this espresso was especially chocolaty'. It's more than possible that I just don't get it, but it can't be that important as my palate seems to be working well enough - in last years cuptasting I had 6 out of the 8 triples right. Not too bad considering the cup tasting competition was the only 'real' cupping I've had during that year! Let's see what this year brings for me. Especially with my shiney new totally awesome cupping spoon ...

For more information on how to cup and evaluate, read Hasbean Steve's article and/or Marc Prince's introduction to cupping. Also, Wolfredo has an excellent series of german articles about cupping, so if you speak german and interested in this they're a must read ("Cupping Grundlagen" and "Kaffee verkosten, Schritte und Termini").

The only thing that can teach me describe coffee better is, I believe (and you guessed), more cupping. So a few days before christmas, I roasted three batches of IACs Yirgacheffe with slightly different profiles to different roast degrees - just before second crack, to start of second crack and a few seconds before rolling second. It was the first time I actually made three roasts in a row with an eye on keeping them as similar as possible, to just different roast degrees. Turned out not as complicated as imagined - Using a good scale, a (hopefully quit exact) thermocouple and nearly-full gas cartidges, it worked quite well. The whole flat smelled funny for a few hours, though, as my batches are 450g and each produces a lot of smoke. A real roaster would make this so much easier (at least I hope) and reproducable ...

So, here are my totally unscientific tasting notes (I tried using the Cupping Database from greenbean, but I as of yet fail miserably in quantifying my notes so I just kept writing)! The three batches are labelled #1 (before second crack), #2 (beginning of second) and #3 (before rolling second). I had two cuppings - the first only about 5 hours after roasting, the second two days after roasting. I think I'll never cup so early after roast again, as it was really, really misleading - after the first I had #1 written of as a misroast, but it developed really well afterwards.

First Cupping:

Cupping three Yirgacheffes

Second cupping:

And at day 10 after roast, #3 turned out to be a really tasty espresso. Very lovely, very berry, very satisying. I was quite sad after all the coffee was used up (some of it had to go as christmas presents, so I ran out quickly!).

So, that was my christmas coffee cupping, and I'll try to do more in the future. Perhaps I'll even write about them, but don't hold me responsible if I'm not! Oh and by the way: Happy new year 2009!

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