THE curious ritual of cupping has long been the way for industry professionals to evaluate coffee.
Lately, however, it seems more roasters are seeing the value in giving the wider community a chance to take part. Peaberrys Coffee Roasters in Islington is one such roastery inviting the public along to their Friday cupping session.
“A cupping session gives the public a different perspective of coffee,” Adrian Rigon, owner and founder of Peaberrys Coffee Roasters, says. “It gives them an insight into what leading coffee roasters do to maintain their standards.”
Cupping is a lot like wine tasting. In fact, cupping professionals use almost identical terms to describe the flavours. Think body, acidity, aroma, complexity, aftertaste.
“Cupping helps us decide how we want to roast, how much we want to use in our blends and helps us get a feel for where we think the blend should go,” Adrian says.
A typical session begins by choosing a selection of beans roasted within the last 24 hours. The beans are then ground straight before the cupping begins.
The dry coffee grounds are placed in a series of cups spread around the table. It’s common for up to five cups to feature the exact same grounds, so that the roast is thoroughly sampled.
Those participating in the cupping begin by smelling the aroma of the grounds. Next, hot water is poured into each cup. A crust forms on the top of each cup. This is broken and expertly scooped away with two spoons all before the tasting begins.
The crew at Peaberrys joke that the tasting process brings out your inner-child and that is all thanks to the loud slurping noises that accompany it as the coffee is tasted from deep-bowled spoons.
“We slurp to aerate the coffee and coat the whole palate,” Adrian says.
The cupping process can go on for up to an hour, even after the brews have cooled.
“Once the coffee cools you may pick up a lot more flavours that you didn’t get when the coffee was hot,” he says.
Extensive tasting notes are taken throughout the process. A cupping season helps roasters make a number of business decisions from which beans to buy and add to blends right though to how long each should be roasted.
While the general coffee-loving public doesn’t need to make such big decisions, the cupping process is a great way for them to learn more about what they like.
Newcastle East cafe Estabar has also hosted public cupping sessions in conjunction with their bean supplier Single-O.
Estabar owner Bec Bowie agrees that coffee drinkers can learn a lot from cupping.
“Cupping is a beautiful way for you to go, 'Ah, I really like that’. Whether it be fruit-driven coffee or the earthiness of an unwashed coffee,” she says.
“It's great for exploring what the world of coffee has to offer at a customer level.”
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