Last Friday I took the morning off to spend some time at a very special coffee cupping. Our beloved Allie invited us to come "cup" some of Madcap's beans that they sent from Michigan to get people buzzing about their arrival coming soon on the East Coast. Madcap will be opening a shop in DC shortly. E. sadly had to miss it as his work schedule doesn't allow him to take off much time during the week. He was mildly jealous to say the least.
We were just in Grand Rapids, Michigan at Madcap Coffee and I wrote about it here. Eric really enjoyed the Santa Lucia and he's been enjoying the beans at home. After my detox I have given up all caffeine so E. gets to enjoy all the beans in our home at his leisure without any fear of me stealing a shot here or there.
Last week we cupped four beans; Santa Lucia from Costa Rica, Fazenda Rainha from Brazil, San Sebastian from Columbia, and the Gacokwe from Burundi. They were all so, so different. This was my second cupping. It was just as complicated as the first one. I felt like I could really smell the difference in the ground beans but again had a terrible time describing the aroma and flavor after the coffee was steeped with water. The flavor however was very clear to me and some coated my mouth with a creamy sensation, vs. the sensation of juice. The Santa Lucia and Gacokwe both did this in the mouth feel. It was awesome!
When I arrived Timothy made me my very own French press of decaf. So, so nice.
I couldn't help but notice these precious enamel espresso cups with Spike and Allie's names on them. The hand made masking tape label is too adorable for words.
I noticed a few new additions to the coffee bar. Woodberry's fans and famous people sign the coffee cups. Peter is from Counter Culture.
These wall of fame cups are the most fun.
It was fun going around the table at this cupping and hearing how people brew their coffee at home. Jay from Spro, Kris and Becka from LAMILL and a few other seasoned coffee people were there. There were many fans of the V60 pour over brew method and one I think was called a "bee" pot brew method.
Not your average cup of Joe!
Timothy measured out each bean and ground them prior to the cupping. He and Allie both swear by a scale they found at Target.
My favorite smell test made me think of STEAK. Yes, the Gacokwe coffee smelled like a big freaking juicy steak to me. Amazing. I picked up notes of peanut butter in one and lime in another. You really are supposed to write the first thing that comes to mind and I let myself go CRAZY with my descriptors.
The class was diligent in writing notes and keeping their thoughts to themselves. Cuppings are oddly quiet.
It was much harder writing what I thought I smelled at this stage. It is very subtle. I think I have a pretty good nose. The dynamic of the coffee changes so much from the ground bean to the "wet" stage. I honestly have a hard time writing anything during this part of the smell test. You are supposed to get really close to the cup and sniff the heck out of it. Still, I got nothing. Stumped, truly.
Once the coffee is "broken" Allie scoops off the foam and bean grounds. I let the new "cuppers" break the coffee and shied away since I felt my nose may have been broken. And then we slurped.
I took a little video of Allie's "slurp" demonstration. The recent article in the Sun suggested that you can't be a "Ruxton Dowager" while slurping. I love their Downton Abbey reference! It felt like I was back in business after slurping. The flavors were robust for my Steaky bean. One person commented it had wild rice flavors. I love hearing what people wrote afterwards.
It was a very large class with so many newcomers after the article about Baltimore's coffee scene. Thanks again Allie for your education and open way of teaching. It truly gets easier each time...even though it is still pretty tough to find words. We had the Santa Lucia for brunch this past weekend and our guests were really impressed with the lingering mouth feel that I described earlier. The easiest way to explain it is how a wine feels "big and chewy". The Santa Lucia and the Gacokwe both had a big, lingering mouth feel that was smooth and lingering. I am sure it makes no sense to anyone reading. So if you live in town you can find a cup at Spro on the Avenue while you wait for Madcap to make its way East.
Thanks for signing my Sun Allie and Jay! Kris, I'm coming to find you to get your signature. Who knows, maybe we will open a coffee shop one of these days. I have to start collecting our "wall of fame" items too. I'm hoping a Coffee Pilgrimage to Costa Rica may be necessary soon.