I’m quickly getting settled in to my new coffee adventure with Bruce & Luke’s Coffee.
The past couple of weeks have been jam packed with roasting and bagging loads of lovely coffee, meeting some of our awesome customers and taking delivery of an actual mountain of paper cups . . . seriously just see for yourself . . .
If that wasn’t enough I had a fun surprise in store last week.
One of things that drew me to this job is that I absolutely love coffee. So imagine my joy when the boys produced a package of 26 different varieties of beans and told me that they wanted me to help taste them ALL . . . at the same time!
Bruce and Luke are on a quest to find new beans for their coffee from new sources. This means getting samples from several suppliers and ‘cupping’ them all. You may or may not have heard of cupping (and no it’s not the one where you put hot suction cups on your back). The whole process of cupping is alien to me, but to put it simply it’s a very structured method of taste testing.
Much like wine tasting, the aim here is to gauge aroma and flavour, not to consume the drink, but to spit it back out. Imagine actually drinking 26 coffees?! Good gravy I’d be bouncing off the ceiling!
Let the cupping commence!
First I write up a list of all the types of coffees we’re about to try so we can scribble flavour notes as we go. We’ve got coffees from Brazil, Kenya, India, Guatemala, Honduras, Columbia, Rwanda and more. A proper globe trotting coffee adventure is in store.
One by one the boys set up the coffees meticulously. Each one needs the same measure of beans ready in individual cups. First we smell test the aroma of the beans before the grind. Then we grind all the beans in the exact same way, making sure not to cross contaminate them. We give these a good sniff and here’s where the aromas really start to come out of the coffee. What we smelled when they were whole beans has changed, and the coffee begins to reveal what we might get when we come to taste.
Next we introduce the hot water straight in the cup with no filters or anything making sure we swiftly introduce newly hot water all along the line. Another smell of all of these before we taste them. Those lovely freshly brewed coffee smells are so varied across the board. At this stage I feel like I’m going a bit nose blind and my head is a jumble of all these great aromas, but I love it!
The boys then go through the task of carefully removing the foamy build up at top of the cups so we have clear black cups of coffee ready to taste.
The tasting process requires a soup spoon, a spittoon (in this case one of our newly delivered paper cups) a jug of water to rinse the spoons in and a glass of water for pallet cleansing. We have a tasting chart that shows all the tastes we can could expect from coffees so we can help identify and we begin tasting.
We each take a spoon full of coffee from each cup and slurp it in to our mouths. Now this may seem a crass noisy way to taste a coffee, but the slurping sucks air in to the mouth which releases the flavours in the coffee. There were all sorts of flavours going on in these coffees. Some were nutty, others had summer fruits, or citrus going on, one tasted a bit of sweaty to me, hmmm. There were some solid stand outs that we loved and kept going back to as we tried to decipher which flavours were exciting us, and which we weren’t so keen on.
We were fairly unanimous in our preferences and 5 or 6 coffees stood out to us.
I was absolutely bowled over by the variance of tastes and the differences between beans from the same regions. Every day I’m getting great lessons on how complex coffee really is and today was a big part of that journey to become a coffee master.
Since the session we’ve narrowed down our favourites and Bruce and Luke have come up with some fantastic new blends to replace current ones. As of writing this I have been roasting our first full new batches of Espresso Blend with the new beans today.
The hope is that these new beans will make our coffee stand out even more. There’s some even more new amazing coffee coming your way soon so be on the look out.