When Josh told me he signed us up for a cupping class I had no idea what he was getting us into, but after meeting the guys at Tinker Coffee in Indianapolis and learning about the cupping process my appreciation for coffee has grown.
The class started out with an overview of their roaster and how the process works. This was Josh’s chance to nerd out on the numbers and math that goes into roasting the perfect coffee bean. It is pretty insane all the data and temperatures that need to align in order to get the bean just right. As with anything it truly makes you think about your morning cup of coffee more than just a jolt of caffeine, when you consider how your beans are hand picked, washed, dried, sorted, shipped, roasted and carefully prepared.
Next we learned specifically about the cupping process. They explained how Tinker picks their coffee through sample roasting and cupping. How they taste coffee after coffee, until finally picking the best one to roast. Similar to wine tasting, there is a huge learning curve when it comes to cupping coffee and differentiating the flavors.
We started by checking out the beans. We inspected the roast color and picked out any defective beans. Throughout the process we took notes about all sensory aspects, look, taste, and smell.
Next, they take the beans and grind each of them so we can take in the dry aromatics of the different beans. We placed our hand over the cup, gave it a shake and then stuck our nose into the cup to smell the beans after they were ground.
The Tinker crew then filled our cups with near-boiling water to brew the coffee, while taking in the wet aromatics at different times throughout the brew.
After the coffee brews for a few minutes we broke the crust and smelled the aroma of the coffee. Throughout the process the goal is to have the coffee consistently stay the same from the smells to the taste of the coffee.
This is us removing the grinds and foam at the top before we go in for a taste.
Now we taste! There is a funky slurp that I wasn’t able to master, but all the professionals apparently have great slurps. You slurp to aerate the coffee across your palate and taste it with all of your tastebuds. Josh nearly choked the first time he did this, Ill save that video for later. 🙂
We tasted three different Tinker coffees: a Colombian, Ethiopian and Papua New Guinea. Honestly, I am not able to tell a huge difference between the three. My tastebuds aren’t that refined. I can usually tell good and bad coffee (my own opinion), but I can’t pick out “dirt” and “candy” flavors in my coffee.
Cupping is a great way to evaluate new coffees, and by understanding the process you will appreciate the work that went into creating your morning cup more!
If you are into coffee, more than just for the caffeine, we highly suggest trying a cupping class to help you begin tasting the different flavors of a variety of coffees. And don’t forget to check out Tinker Coffee, beans that we often keep in the house for our morning brew!