Newly established Press Coffeehouse hosted their first official public engagement at Chapel Allerton’s Cup & Saucer last week. Tickets had been snapped up in a few hours, luckily I managed to nab myself one and eagerly awaited my second ever coffee cupping!! This time I had an idea what was going to happen, unlike the first time when I was a complete novice.
Prior to the event I’d met up with Press Coffeehouse‘s Paul Henry and came away knowing the purpose of the event was to help them choose coffee for their subscription service. What a great idea! With nine different coffees from Madcap based in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Five Elephant coffee from Berlin, it would be an evening of sniffing, slurping and comparing with help and expertise from green coffee exporters Falcon Speciality Coffee for the evening.
I really like seeing the diverse range of people’s experience who come to these events; ranging from hardened coffee drinkers with a decent knowledge to someone like me, who is very much on a steep learning curve and still finding out the basics.
Paul introduced the event in good company with the likes of Holly and Matt from Falcon, Louisa Henry, owner of Opposite, Cup & Saucer and Opposite’s baristas Adam and Alex, North Star‘s Krag and Ellis, as well as a number of coffee lovers wanting to learn more. He spoke about both coffee roasteries and mentioned how he’d discovered Five Elephant by accident, and he’d been interested in American coffees for a while, so wanted to bring them into the equation and gather opinions to form a consensus in terms of likes and dislikes.
What I’ve learned so far in my very short education in coffee cupping is there are a number of stages before tasting the products. The beans were prepared by Falcon’s Holly, who measured out each coffee accurately on Paul’s new toy; an Acaia coffee scale. From the two roasteries the beans supplied came from Peru, Brazil, Columbia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Burundi, once measured out were then distributed into glasses and placed around the table with increasing strength of flavour.
The next step was to grind the beans, then get stuck in and have a good whiff. The advice we were given on the best technique to use was to agitate the coffee with a gentle tap on the side, then a couple of swift sniffs to get the aroma released from the coffee.
This certainly showed an immediate difference between the coffee types. From the delicate citrus from Madcap’s Raul Mamani, the floral citrus notes of Madcap’s San Sebastian to the more savoury Brazilian Obata from Five Elephant.
Ok, the next stage in the cupping was to add nearly boiling water to the ground beans and leave them for a few minutes so a crust formed, it was a precise number of minutes but for the life of me I cannot remember how much it was!
Once a crust is formed the process of breaking the crust is an important one to give an idea of what’s to come from tasting the coffee. The grind will begin to sink to the bottom and then slurping can commence!!! This was the bit I wasn’t particularly wanting to get involved with just because I still find it a little daunting and even intimidating.
So I watched from the sidelines as the rest of the guests really got their noses stuck in and slurped in what seemed at times like a cacophony of sound!
Once all the coffees had been tasted Paul noted down people’s opinions – their likes/dislikes, favourites and reasons for their choices.
To be honest the whole coffee cupping thing still scares me a little as I’m still a scaredy cat at these types of events, especially with most people being very much in the know. But at the same time I know if I take part I’ll learn a lot more too, so the next cupping session, and there WILL be a next time I will endeavour to be more determined and join in with the tasting and slurp away with the rest of them!! No more of me being feeble and chickening out!
With my exploration into the coffee world developing with time, the arrival of Press Coffeehouse has been timely and a great way for me to talk to others more about coffee and its complexities.
Press Coffeehouse are also supporting Measure Coffee Culture festival at the Royal Armouries in September where there will be a whole host of great things to see and get involved in, such as; coffee (of course) brewing equipment, street food, barista and latte art competitions.
If you love artisan coffee and produce, want to know more about brewing techniques, watch some cool latte art being done you can get your tickets for the festival now!