Our subscription this month features a returning coffee and a brand new one. The returning coffee is called Salkantay, and it was a highlight on our Peru menu last year. This year, it’s just as good if not even better! The one that is new to us is a Colombian coffee called Saul Vasquez. Tasting a new coffee is always exciting, and this one is deliciously bright and juicy. During our quality control cupping on Friday last week, both these coffees were standouts. For those of you who are not familiar with the cupping process, I’d like to give you a glimpse of what it looks like. Broadly speaking, cupping is a standardized tasting process during which we use an immersion brewing method to experience all the qualities that a coffee has to offer.
For the purposes of quality control, it starts at the roaster. We take a sample of every batch we roast, and later select a number of samples to cup. The same amount of each sample is weighed out into a cup, ground, and placed on a table. Before we get to the tasting part, we need to smell the grounds and brew the coffee. When we smell the grounds, we note the intensity and qualities of the fragrance. Then, we pour boiling water onto the grounds, filling each cup to the top, and let them brew for four minutes. During this time, a crust forms on the top, and when four minutes are up, it’s time to “break the crust” and smell the aroma. We agitate the grounds with a cupping spoon, which causes the grounds to sink to the bottom of the cup and stop the brewing process. At the same time, we take note of the aroma.
Now it’s time for the actual tasting part, which is noisier than you might expect. It’s typical to “slurp” coffee from the cupping spoon, which is called aspiration, in order to spread the coffee over the entirety of our palates. We take notes on each coffee, including tasting notes like the ones you see on our bags. We also evaluate balance, body, complexity, acidity, sweetness, and aftertaste. Anything that we’d like to evaluate further, we will brew up later via pour over to get a sense of the experience that our customers might have.
Here are our most recent cupping notes of our subscription coffees:
Salkantay: Intense sweet dark chocolate and raisin fragrance, yum! Rich chocolate candy bar, heath bar aroma. Really sweet, decadent, chocolate toffee bar. Super smooth. Mouthwatering sweetness. Toasted caramel. Like biting into a candy bar. Red apple. Hot cocoa. Chewy.
Saul: Medium/high intensity toffee, apple fragrance. Green apple, caramel aroma. Lime zest. Lemon candy, cane sugar. Quite lively - cherry sour candy, fresh lemon, tingling acidity. Juicy body. A lot of lime as cooled.
Next time you brew up a cup of Salkantay or Saul, I hope you enjoy some of the same delicious characteristics that I have been experiencing.
- Lead Roaster Emily