La Bottega Milanese had their first coffee cupping event a little while ago at their recently opened coffee shop on Bond Court. If you’ve not been to La Bottega’s newest coffee shop, you really must as Alex Galantino has done such a beautiful job on getting the place fitted out, it looks fantastic!
The original plan was for roastery The Grumpy Mule to showcase their coffee, but sadly they were unable to attend. As always, the show must go on, so fortunately a number of fantastic baristas from well-known coffee shops around Leeds and it’s surrounding areas were on hand to help out with their coffee expertise instead. Another typical example of how Leeds’ coffee community works together so well, with the likes of Adam (Opposite), Matt (Mrs Athas) and Oakley (Crema Espresso) bringing a selection of coffees along for the event.
There seemed to be a varying amount of cupping experience amongst us, so Alex was more than happy to ease us into the procedure. I really liked this because it showed us that whatever experience and knowledge we had with coffee, it was an event that could cater for everyone, regardless of any limitations we may have.
Alex briefly explained how the aim of a cupping session was to compare and contrast coffees against each other. Six different coffees with slightly different flavour profiles, produced by a range of well-known roasters using beans from a variety of countries would be showcased. He drew our attention to taking tasting notes, possibly drawing out a wheel of flavour to compare each coffee. The most popular coffee would then be used to produce coffee to drink using an Aeropress.
Here’s a brief run through of the cupping procedure:
1. Smell the ground coffee – is there are difference between ground and not ground? Some coffees had been processed in different methods, e.g. processed/washed would give differences in how clean their flavours were.
I even surprised myself when I got a noseful of the Hasbean coffee, which had a huge whack of strawberry that instantly filled my nostrils. Earlier that morning I’d had a bowl of strawberries for breakfast and it reminded me of that immediately.
2. Each coffee was brewed for 4 minutes by added hot water of a specific temperature (not boiling) onto the coffee grounds, allowing an even extraction and the formation of a crust.
3. The surface of the crust was broken by using a spoon to push the grounds down with three swift movements. The aromas released would give an indication of what was to come during tasting. Quickly the cups had the ground coffee removed before the slurping process could begin.
4. People started to work their way through each coffee, slurping away, getting the coffee to coat the tongue to taste, comparing them at different temperatures.
A quick analysis of opinions was garnered to see what people thought.
There was a general consensus that the Grumpy Mule tasted the most ‘ordinary’ – with a more bitter taste, it tasted like a more traditional, standard coffee. This was unlike the others as they had been roasted much lighter to develop flavour profiles.
The San Agustin roasted by Square Mile seemed to be a popular choice – an easy drinking coffee and not too bitter. As it started to cool its taste began to resemble tea. The Yirgacheffe, (Square Mile) was found to be very floral, with bergamot notes. We were told that fully washed coffees produce lovely bright fruit flavours.
The Nicaraguan Hasbean coffee was also a popular choice, it certainly stood out as the flavours produced were very intense with fruit. Matt explained that these beans were massive, due to being grown slowly at high altitude. After undergoing a natural process, rather than being washed like others, fermentation allows levels of texture and flavour to intensify, resulting in really jammy coffee full of strawberry.
During each cupping session there is always so much to take in and learn and I always feel completely out of my depth, but at the same time feel I am very slowly learning more a bit at a time. I would highly recommend going to a cupping event if you’ve not been to one before!!
Hopefully I’ll see you there!!La Bottega Milanese 2 Bond Court Leeds LS1 2JZ 0113 2454242 http://www.labottegamilanese.co.uk