One of the perks of being in the Austin Food Bloggers Alliance is exclusive invites to cool get-togethers. Case in point, Ev and I got to go to a private coffee tasting at Houndstooth Coffee. Sean (the owner) and his crew gave the group of about 30 bloggers and friends a crash course in “cupping”.
Cupping is the industry standard process of tasting different coffees without getting overly amped up on caffeine [citation: me]. They set up five very different coffees from various roasters and regions of the world. The process to “taste” a coffee starts way before your first sip. You begin breathing in the delicious fragrance of freshly ground beans. I realized how out of my element I was when I came up blank trying to describe the smells. Same went for the aroma (the smell after water is added), flavor (taste), body (mouthfeel…), aftertaste, and balance. Who knew so much went into coffee? Houndstooth, that’s who.
We started by tasted apples (yes, apples) to show how many subtle differences there are between varieties, plus the amount of different perceptions by different people. It was reminiscent of wine tasting, including the pretentious descriptions like “tobacco, “balsa wood”, and “musky black roses”. Tasting the apples was a good exercise, though, as it made the point that a) everyone’s palate is different; and b) apples are delicious.
But you don’t just take sips of coffee from a cup. That would be silly.
Instead, fill a spoon halfway with coffee, and then like a shop vac, violently inhale the coffee to coat your mouth. Then ponder what you’re tasting. It’s an interesting process, especially when
you have no idea what you’re doing. My one hang up, which may have been a result of cupping with 30 other people, is that we tasted all coffees, took notes, returned to our seats, and then discussed. I personally would have come away with a better experience if we could have cupped and discussed one coffee at a time.
As for the coffee, we got to try:
- Madcap Coffee Company – Gishamwana from Rwanda
- Handsome Coffee – Gatare Lot II from Burundi
- Counter Culture – La Frontera from Peru
- Counter Culture – Finca Nueva Armenia from Guatemala
- Counter Culture – El Gavilan from Ecuador
The crowd favorite was the Madcap, followed by Handsome, though the Handsome also had the most “least favorite” votes. Very polarizing. For the record, I preferred the Madcap. It was a great event. Thanks to Houndstooth and a fellow food blogger, Eli of Grubbus, for organizing everything!
p style=”text-align: center;”>