Friday, April 23, 2010

Counter Culture Coffee Cupping

Hey everyone, I'm back from a blogging hiatus. The final semester of school has been very busy, with a trip to Singapore, the second year retreat, and significant life decisions. The event that brought me back to blogging is the weekly coffee cupping at Counter Culture Coffee's Durham headquarters.


I've seen Counter Culture blends at various restaurants around Durham and heard about their weekly Friday morning coffee cuppings. At 10am every Friday, they invite everyone to come to their headquarters and learn about the process of tasting coffee. Afterward there is a roastery tour. I've been wanting to go since I moved here, especially since it sounded like wine tasting but I wouldn't get sick afterward.

I asked Hannah to accompany me and we drove 15 minutes to the little brick building on Alston. When we got there, everyone was holding little clipboards with pieces of paper. I picked one up and it had several columns: coffee varietal, fragrance, aroma, break, acidity, taste, mouthfeel, and flavor. Needless to say I was overwhelmed by the terms. Lem, the customer rep, explained the process to us.

Today we tried three coffee varietals, all from different places. I forget where the first one was from, but the second was from Ipanema, Brazil, and the third was from Aceh, Sumatra. First we sniffed the dry grounds (fragrance), then after hot water was poured, we sniffed the wet grounds (aroma). After steeping we broke the "crust" of grounds at the top and inhaled the release of CO2 (break). The grounds were then taken out and we slurped each coffee to determine the last four categories.

At each step, Lem asked us for our thoughts and input on each coffee. He emphasized trying the coffees in order and encouraged reevaluation at each step. At the end of the process he revealed that the three coffees we tried are part of their Espresso Toscana blend and the reasoning behind each coffee's inclusion in the blend. He then made espresso shots for everyone in the room of the Toscana so we could taste the final product. I found out I'm not an espresso drinker. It was bitter and sour to me.


Afterward he took us all on the tour of the roastery and we got to see the small scale of their production here in Durham. They have six other regional centers, but Durham is their world headquarters. It smelled amazing next to the roasters.


I'm actually going to the Science of Coffee event on Sunday at the Museum of Life and Science so I guess I'll get my month's worth of coffee over these two days.

Welcome back.