Cupping Coffees

IntelliWhen we moved into our building last year I was naturally very excited to finally have a space for our brewery.  One of the other reasons I was excited to have found this location is that it is less than one mile from the Intelligentsia Roasting Works.  I’m a huge fan of good coffee and, like good beer, I think it is worth seeking out producers that are passionate and particular about their craft.  In the world of good coffee producers, Intelligentsia is certainly one of the best.

Well, yesterday I had the fantastic opportunity to join the Intelligentsia crew for their weekly “cupping” ritual.  Cupping is a process for evaluating coffee where you observe the aroma and flavor characteristics of several different coffees side-by-side, in a fairly scientific and objective way.  This process is practiced by roasters and baristas on a regular basis to keep their palates in calibration, and to familiarize themselves with their raw materials.

The process of cupping coffee is similar in many ways to the process of evaluating beers, and even the scoring systems are similar in breaking down the body/tactile impression, aroma impression, flavor impression, and overall impression into separate categories.  After each person completes their evaluation of each coffee, everyone compares notes and talks about their impressions.  At Intelligentsia, they will use this information to determine if they want to purchase a particular lot of beans or, once they’ve purchased, the roasters will use this information to determine what the time/temperature profile will be for the roast.

Naturally, I had to bring some beer for after the cupping was complete, so I brought our Black Mild for the guys to sample and enjoy.  Thanks to James, Steve, Jared, Deaton, and the rest of the crew for the opportunity to sit-in and observe their process!  I had a great time, and I’m looking forward to some beer & coffee collaborations in the near future!