Thursday, October 15, 2015

90+ Coffees

One post a month is not enough, i know.
But maybe that coffee book i'm writing is a good excuse....

A little word on coffee cupping now.
Coffee cupping is not only a funny thing to do, it is the corner stone of our business and it should be so for every coffee roaster and even every barista. Here's where you learn a lot about your bean and the best way to sharpen your taste buds.

The scoring we give is a big controversial item though.
What cupping sheet are you using?
And are you trained to really understand this sheet and do you have enough reference coffees in mind to give it a proper score?

We, as a company, do not want to give cupping scores on paper. Every roast, brew is different and the coffee is changing over time as well. What is worth a cupping score for a coffee that came in 4 months ago? For example; maybe there's a hot summer in between which influenced the green coffee quality drastically....

We do give cupping scores in our head all the time though and the magical figure we all want to score is 90+.
A 90+ coffee is not just a coffee anymore, it's a gem. A truly clean cup that makes a lot of bells ringing in our head.
I cup 600+ coffees every year, and buy around 35 of them. Another 5 i buy blind; sometimes you have to act fast and take risks to get your hands on some small lots and highly wanted coffees - of course there's always someone who cupped these for us and recommended them, like a coffee trader you're familiar with.
For these 40 coffees we buy every year, almost all of them can be called Specialty Coffee, but only a couple are scoring 90+.
Some people who are start roasting think it's easy to buy these high scoring coffees, but there are a lot of 'buts' in this story.

First of all are some of these coffees very expensive. And are they worth the price? We are not the type of company to pay double the price for one point more on a cupping scale, no thanks.

Then the high scoring coffees are very wanted. The bigger roastery's have more money and are able to buy the full lot. They are often longer in business and have better contacts, up to origin.

Imagine you finally are able to buy them, then you need to be able to roast them and help people to brew them so you can get all the flavors out of it. A little over or under roasting and a bit sloppy on the executing at the bar, bad water or unclean tools and your coffee drops 5 points in a flash...

The end this story i have to warn people that cupping is the best tool to evaluate coffee samples and it is the best tool to test your roasts, but it's always light roast coffees we cup. When roasting the same coffee darker, for espresso, and later pull shots we have at once a different coffee.
Think very clean, subtle and bright tasting beans; they do not translate very well on espresso. Like those zesty Kenyan coffees that give so much acidity in your espresso that you think someone added lemon juice to you cup.
Saying this we notice in 2015 more and more of this type of beans that, once roasting carefully and brewed with the right equipement and skills are bringing gold in our cups. Very interesting times if you ask me.

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