Saturday was a landmark day in the world of coffee tasting in San Diego, at least for myself, The Jess, and a cache of friends, as we came together for my first hosted coffee cupping.
I got started with the preparation several days prior and roasted my little heart out. There were 5 varietals to choose from, delivered by the good people at Sweet Maria's, and I wanted each one to have at least a day or two to mature prior to tasting. For fun, I made the choice to roast each bean approximately the same amount and didn't pay attention to the notes from Sweet Maria's. I went with a Full City roast on each one, with very interesting results.
The varietals were as follows:
Guatemala Organic Finca Ceylan Maragogype
El Salvador Matapala Estate Peaberry
Brazil Cachoeira "Canario Bourbon"
Rwanda Gkongoro Nyarusiza
A Kenyan bean who's name is unfortunately lost to history (I already tossed the bag into the recycling bin)
Given the number of coffee enthusiasts who were joining us, I wanted to ensure that there were plenty of cups to sample from, so I roasted enough for three cups of each bean. Having read a few websites about how to host a cupping, I had to make a few executive decisions about getting the house ready. My concept of getting ready was making sure there were enough cups, and snacks, as well as cleaning up a bit. I did not; however, subscribe to some of the more bizarre rules that are out there (imagine me ever being able to follow a No Talking rule)!
As a reminder, there are four steps to a cupping:
1. the dry smell: dry grounds (a coarse grind is employed) in the cup are inhaled using both mouth and nose
2. the wet smell: coffee is poured over the grounds, and the steam is inhaled
3. breaking the crust: the layer of grounds on top of the mug is broken with a spoon after 4 minutes of brewing, with inhalation taking place at the moment the spoon breaks the surface
4. tasting: after lifting off the grounds on the surface, a spoon is dipped into the coffee, and slurped up. The slurp is key, because it aerates the coffee and sprays it all over the mouth, palate, and posterior pharynx. The grounds are then spat into a cup (none of us had a spittoon)
Here are some photos from the event, taken by, of course, The Jess!
This was a really fun morning and a truly novel experience. I know you're wondering, and the consensus favorites were Rwanda and El Salvador. The next time we do this, I think I'm going to pick two or three varietals and roast them to different ends of the flavor spectrum. That'll be in the near-future, but for now, stay tuned for more pics and hopefully some fun comments from the esteemed participants:
The Tipsy Historian
The Amusing San Diegan
Mr. Handsome's Master
(there is an appeals process if you want to change your nickname)