Sunday, July 22, 2012

Cupping of the new Rwanda, Columbia, and Costa Rica Coffees

Coffee professionals cup (taste) coffee in order to find out whether the new or old coffee is worth buying again or at all. We're looking for the good, the bad, and the ugly. When you cup coffee in the traditional way,   you taste the coffee in its completely naked state. Here's a video of what happens during a Chazzano Coffee Cupping Party.

We have three new coffees: Columbia Medellin Excelso, Rwanda FTO, and Costa Rica SHB
Here are my notes for each of the new coffees:

Columbia Medellin Excelso

I rarely buy Columbian coffees because although the name is synonymous with coffee growing, It's difficult to find quality coffees from Columbia. However, one of my coffee importers has high quality coffee and I decided to take a chance on the coffee. First, let's discuss the name. Medellin is the second largest city in Columbia with a great climate for coffee. Excelso is merely a designation for the screen size of the beans. I chuckle when I see Columbia Supremo that is old, stale, and badly roasted. I'm sure that many people read "Supremo" as the supreme and expect it to be supreme coffee. Supremo just means that the coffee beans are larger than most.

Here are the cupping notes:

This coffee is milky, smooth, with fruity papaya-like notes. The fragrance is sweet and flowery, but the aroma in winey and complex. Their is a buttery mouthfeel that arrives when the coffee has cooled down.
Fragrance (unbrewed coffee): 4
Aroma (brewed coffee): 3
Body/Mouthfeel: 5
Acidity (brightness-how it dances on your tongue): 4
Complexity: 3
Depth: 2
Sweetness: 5
Balance: 5

Total Score: 91

The smooth, milky, and buttery notes create a normal coffee tasting experience.
When the coffee cools down you'll experience scotch-like notes with a gritty mouthfeel.

Drinking for the Cycle notes: #FIVEPT
Great as a French Press and Iced.
A private cupping session

Rwanda FTO

We just finished 2 lots of the 2011 Rwanda Cup of Excellence coffees. This coffee is not a COE coffee, but it will make you smile. When you first sip the coffee, the flavor bypasses the front of your palate and it hits you on the back of your throat with luscious high quality cocoa notes. The fragrance is filled with fruit juice and vanilla and the aroma is winey and complex. There is tremendous brightness that mellow when it cools. There is a complexity to this coffee that I will not understand during the first cupping. This coffee will remind you of those high cacoa content bars of chocolate that force you to snap it next your ears and rub it with your thumb.

Fragrance: 5
Aroma: 4
Body/Mouthfeel: 4
Acidity: 5
Depth: 5
Balance: 4

Total Score: 97

Drinking for the Cycle notes: #FIVEPT
French Press: intense dark chocolate notes
Vaccum Syphon: milder notes of chocolate and cinnamon

Crazy amount of violent sniffing and slurping just happened here.

Costa Rica SHB (Semi-hard bean)

I haven't had a Costa Rican coffee that I didn't far. This one is milky with hot chocolate and cinnamon notes. The fragrance has interesting beef stock or beef stroganoff notes and the aroma morphs into straw, hay, and turmeric. It's possible that  the light roast needed for the cupping, brought out its vegetable like notes in the cupping. Cupping coffee is crucial for the coffee roaster or coffee buyer because it unveils all of the coffee's potential notes. In real life situations, the flavor profile will change profoundly depending on the grind used, brewing temperature, duration the coffee and water intermingle, and brew method. I probably should roast this coffee darker to a Vienna Roast, but that will mask many of the notes that I tasted during the cupping.

Fragrance: 3
Aroma: 3
Body/Mouthfeel: 4
Acidity: 4
Depth: 3
Balance: 5

Total Score: 91

Drinking for the Cycle notes: #FIVEPT
French Press: Sweet papaya fruitiness.
Iced: Sweet fruit notes. Tastes like we've sweetened it. (You know that we wouldn't/ couldn't)

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Drinking for the Cycle

I'm not a big baseball fan. Truly, I am only interested in the hometown team because it's good for the local economy and for the self esteem of the particular town. If the hometown team is considered the underdog, even better. In addition, everything that I've learned about sports was learned from video games. Really. One of the most impressive feats in baseball is hitting for the cycle. It's when a hitter hits a single, double, triple, and home run in the same game. If they hit them in order, it's called a natural cycle. Regardless, it's an amazing achievement. While I was drinking a 4-cup French Press of Ethiopia Sidamo over a 3 hour period, I began to daydream about drinking for the cycle. 

You may know that we roast and sell 40 different single origin coffees. But did you know that we taste every coffee as a French press,  Iced, Vacuum syphon, Espresso, Pour-over. and Turkish? We also let it cool, sometimes accidentally, to see how it fares as cold coffee. During wintertime, how many cups of coffee were undrinkable after a few hours? The mark of a great coffee is when it improves after a few hours or morphs into a completely different flavor profile. I decided to coin drinking for the cycle or as I'm calling it-FIVEPT i.e. French Press, Iced, Vacuum Syphon, Espresso, Pour-over, and Turkish). 

For example, Sumatra Mandheling as a French Press is earthy, bold, chocolaty, with a syrupy mouthfeel, and floral notes of lavender and jasmine.
As an Iced Coffee, I have nothing nice to say about it.
The Vacuum Syphon of the Sumatra is fantastic. Syrupy and smooth notes of flowers and chocolate with no gritty mouthfeel.
Again, as an Espresso, I have nothing nice to say about it.
It is a tremendous pour-over with a boldness that grabs your palate; the chocolate reverberates across your tongue.

My next blog posts will include coffee tasting of different coffees Drinking for the Cycle. If you have some extra time this week, come by and say, "Hey, Frank, I'd like to drink for the cycle." That's 5 plus Turkish (FIVEPT) for $22/person. Plan on staying for 45 minutes.