With my re-branding efforts, I'm working to develop my palate. I need to be able to better taste the products that I'm providing. As a coffee roaster, I need to be able to tell what effects any changes I make has on the bean. The only way to do that is to taste. The hard part is that it's very difficult to distinguish what we taste. Most of us think in cave man perspectives, "mmm, good," or, "me no like." So, with that in mind, I decided to do a cupping with one of the best roasters in town.
Press Coffee (https://www.presscoffee.com/) is arguably the best roaster in Az. They have a lot of awards and the coffee is just freak'n amazing. I've been checking their website for a while now because a few years ago, they were trying to host an SCA barista training camp and I was going to ditch work to go. It unfortuanately didn't make it to fruition. I saw on their IG that they were hosting a cupping, so I checked it out. It was $20 for an hour, 4 coffees, all guided by two of their top peeps. I decided this was a must.
I reached out to my by AJ, who has joined my team for the rebranding. He does not have a lot of experience in coffee, so this was going to be a good first event for the new team. I picked up some $.88 journals from Wally-mart and jumped into the rabbit hole.
I, being the nerd that I am, arrived quite a bit early. This turned out to be great because we got to talk to the guys from Press for a while before everyone else showed up. The difficult thing about being in the industry and learning from others in the industry is communication. This was a casual experience for consumers to learn more about coffee. So they assumed didn't really know anything, which is fair. The hard part is trying to communicate to them that I do not about coffee without sounding like a female hygene product. I chose silence over talking most of the time.
I learned about cupping a bit. It is a standardized method of tasting coffee. This helps synchonize everyone along the supply chain. This is something I want to look into a bit more as I've seen different sized cupping cups. I also want to figure out the grind size a bit more. It looked pretty fine, not espresso fine, but maybe a bit more than drip. I'll also need to invest in some soup spoons so I can obnoxiously slurp the coffee. It's really silly, but it does help the taste more than you would if you just drank it.
One thing I learned from listening to one of my coffee podcasts is to have your journal for all tastings. When you start out, you aren't going to have complex descriptions. You may only have one or two words, which is ok. That is something that will build as you develop your palate. I was able to identify maybe 20% of the flavors. Some that I picked up didn't match the roasters, which is ok. I maybe picked up an additional 40-50% of the flavors after they told me what the roasters profile was. A major part of tasting is association, so once someon tells you what to look for it is easier to look for and identify what they are refering to. There was one coffee that I couldn't pick out any specific flavors, even after they told I should taste.
I will probably do a few of these as as I continue to train my palate. If you are interested in coffee at all, I would reccomend it. It's a fun experience.