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Coffee Cupping?

August 22, 2011

Coffee aficionados this blog’s for you!

I’ve been a coffee drinker since I can remember and to this day I have an absolute affinity for a perfectly brewed cup of (decaffeinated) coffee the first thing most mornings.

Until recently, I’d never heard of coffee cupping, nor was I aware that coffee-sampling lessons were available. I was amazed to learn things I never knew about coffee and the coffee-brewing process.

By the way, did you know coffee loses 60-80% of its flavor after about a month? So be sure to check the coffee’s roast date before you purchase it!

I never realized that in order to brew a great-tasting cup of coffee the brewing water should reach a temperature of about 210° and the freshly brewed coffee should sit at least two minutes before it’s served. (Like many others, I’m usually pouring my first cup of coffee as soon as the coffee maker stops dripping – if not before!)

But now that I’ve learned the proper way to brew coffee, I will brew it to approximately 210° (hope my coffee maker is set to brew that high) and I’ll remember to allow the coffee to sit for at least two minutes after I brew it!

As a decaffeinated-coffee drinker, I’m sure I should have known dark-roast coffees have less caffeine than light-roast coffees. (But I didn’t know that!) Our coffee-sampling barista suggested we never buy pre-ground coffees because coffee oxidizes when exposed to air. (I knew that!)

He also instructed us to never freeze coffee because condensation builds on it and that actually begins the coffee-preparation process and results in a bitter-tasting cup of coffee.

I was fascinated to learn the coffee-cupping components. Some of them I knew, others – not so much!

  1. Fragrance – the smell of dry coffee. (We love the smell!)
  2. Aroma – how the coffee smells after hot water has been added to it
  3. Breaking the coffee – place a spoon on the surface of the coffee and push back
  4. Brightness – slurp it (yes slurp!) to detect the acidity (lemony taste).
  5. Flavor – sip it three times and evaluate it after the third sip
  6. Body – the thickness of the coffee
  7. Aftertaste – Let the coffee sit in your mouth a moment, then determine what flavor is left

Coffee lovers, I hope you enjoyed my coffee-cupping experience. If you ever have an opportunity to participate in a coffee sampling, go for it, because it’s a pleasurable experience that your palate will certainly enjoy!

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