Joe Bean Coffee is my go to hang out spot Saturday mornings after we finish up at the Public Market and I’ve tried a wide variety of their coffees with various brewing methods over the past couple of years. I had read about cupping a few years ago during my coffee nerd out phase before Joe Bean opened their retail location but I hadn’t had a chance to try it out until this past Thursday at their first Nexus Night. The idea behind the Nexus Nights is to expose people to different aspects of not only coffee but wine and chocolate and learning how to pair drinks with foods.
This first event was a cupping and involved the Ethiopian Sidama and the still in profiling Don Francisco Nicaraguan coffees and learning how to go through the cupping process. Wade Reed, one of Joe Bean’s veteran baristas, was our host for the evening in the Coffee Lab in the back corner of the shop and he started off with an explanation of how the evening would go. For each of the steps, there was a specific technique to maximize the compounds that get in the olfactory department and it was obvious that this is something that takes time to get good at. As a side note, I have never considered myself particularly good at picking out the flavors mentioned in the profiling of the coffees without prompting. That was one of the main reasons I wanted to go through the process and see if I could start to hone that ability.
The first part of the cupping involved Wade grinding a small amount of beans for each person of the two coffees and placing them in a small cup (see pictures) where we would smell them and try and identify whatever we thought we smelled. We were supposed to get as close as possible to the grounds and, with a slightly open mouth, sniffing strongly and then just throw out anything we could smell. Following the dry round, hot water was added to the grounds and they floated to the top of the cup and then we did a second round of smelling. Different compounds open up after being exposed to the hot water so some smells were intensified and some came out for the first time.
The third phase was the tasting that followed a cleaning of the grounds from the surface of the cup. This was the most familiar to me and with the Don Francisco and the Sidama next to each other some of the familiar flavors came to the fore-fr0nt. I’m still having trouble putting names on most of the things I’m tasting but hope to get better at it the next time I go to one of the cuppings. I know amateur cupping notes may not be the most accurate, but our notes are below if they are of any interest.
The Nexus Nights are a great service to the food and coffee community and I would recommend that anyone who is interested in taking their coffee (and other foods/drinks) more seriously give these free classes a try. The schedule is below: