As a coffee lover and a frequent coffee shop visitor, I was excited to see that a local cafe, Reverie Roasters, was starting to offer some legit educational classes in their updated “Tasting Lair” located up above the main cafe. I rushed at the chance and signed up for a one of their many Caffeinated Lab classes, specifically their cupping class. I might as well fashion my taste buds and become a bit of a coffee snob and ruin any future chances of enjoying other places terrible coffee ever again! I kid. I actually welcome the chance to learn something new and developing a more educated coffee palate (pinkies up!). But what in the world did I sign up for? What is coffee cupping? All I knew was that it involved sniffing, slurping and spitting. You think I’m kidding? Sniff. Slurp. Spit!
An eager group of 10 caffeine addicted students grouped around a table with each station containing three small bowls, a cup of water, 2 spoons and a paper cup. We were introduced to three of the beans they sell there in the cafe but weren’t told anything about them – Ethiopia, Guatemala and Colombia. One by one we went around and grounded up 12 oz of each bean and stood there with our studious clipboards ready to take some serious notes.
Fruity, nutty, chocolate, floral, earthy, savory, spicy, sweet and sugary
The sheet on our clipboard covered categories like fragrance/aroma (wet/dry), flavor, finish (does it have an aftertaste), body (dry/juicy) and acidity (low, med, high). We had to come up with words like fruity, nutty, chocolate, floral, veggie, earthy, savory, spicy, sweet, sugary and so on. As a newbie this was going to be tricky! We were told to keep a poker faces and to not converse with our neighbor so that their experience wasn’t influenced by another’s opinion. This was serious stuff folks! But when does the sniff, slurp, spit begin? Continue on my friends. And remember, I’m not a coffee doctor so this is the viewpoint of a beginner’s experience!
How To Do Coffee Cupping:
- Grab bowls 1-3 one at a time and sniff the grounds in short dog like sniffs to find the fragrance/aroma. Keep the lid on so the magical smell of coffee doesn’t escape.
- Pour hot water over each cup of grounds and let brew for 4 minutes.
- Take one spoon and slowly push back the oily foamy tops of each bowl and quickly sniff the aroma that rushes out from under. This was like pulling back a curtain to reveal a rush of heaven.
- Afterwards take 2 spoons and skim the tops of any foam and oil. Take off and put into water filled cup.
- Then take 1 spoon, get down low, and slurp spoonfuls of coffee. Let it hit the back of your tongue. Try and pin point any flavors, finishes, body and acidity. They say get loud and really slurp it in! But don’t choke. (I actually choked demonstrating to my family what I did that morning)
- When done, you can either drink the spoonful of coffee or spit it out into your paper cup.
- Repeat as many times as needed.
There you go. Sniff. Slurp. Spit.
My Cupping Results:
- Ethiopia – fruity, sweet, moist, light, long linger on tongue with a medium acidity
- Guatemala – chocolate, nutty, slight sweet, dark, smooth, smelt different than tasted, low acidity
- Colombia – dry, extra nutty, creamy with a hint of citrus, no long linger and high acidity
Often times you can tell what region a coffee is from from doing this test. Did you know the amount of water available in those areas really affects the taste of coffee? Who knew! Read more about cupping here. After the great class (thank you btw) I headed downstairs, took a window seat and enjoyed a large Salted Caramel Latte while listening to some TLC over the speakers. It made for a very enjoyable Saturday morning.
Have you taken a class like this before? What was your experience? Tell me in comments below.
Want to take a class? Like their Facebook page and under “events” you will find a list of classes. A $5 registration fee is required but can be used for in-store credit the day of. They are located in Wichita, Kansas.