Coffee Cupping in Portland is one of the many cultural things to do in the city. For an expert coffee roaster and business person, coffee cupping often means being able to tell the difference between a great cup and a horrible one and it will, thusly, spell success or failure around here.
Roasters and casual coffee drinkers in Portland take their coffee very seriously. We expect a great cup of Joe went frequenting any of the many establishments dotting the city streets. The art of cupping is something that many of the shops teach to anyone who wants to know how to evaluate a cup of coffee and compare it against other ones. It's fun, too!
What exactly is coffee cupping and what difference does it make? Cupping is the art of using your palette to zero in on a coffee's elements, such as balance, body, and acidity...it allows the taster the opportunity to evaluate a coffee's aroma and taste. With the cost of coffee beans going for over a dollar a pound, roasters investing in 1000s of pounds at a time have a lot riding on those beans. This is where Cupping comes in.
You needn't be an expert to enjoy a session of cupping, so do not feel intimidated at all...it's all good. ;)
Various coffees are set around a table...usually a green, a ground and a roast. At that time, you will slurp a bit of coffee into your mouth, swish it around to awaken your palette and then spit it out. You will then have a chance to grade it. You'll dip your spoon into a cup of hot water to clean it off and repeat the process on the next cup. It's the equivalent of wine tasting and sometimes the ritual sometimes varies from place to place. When comparing coffees to one another, uniformity is key. Make sure you taste each coffee in the exact way you did the previous one. For a casual cupper, just enjoy!
Why in the world would you slurp the coffee? When cupping, it's far from rude. Your sense of smell and taste are strongly connected to each other. When you slurp your coffee, you are allowing a bit of air in and your taste buds will pick up the aroma and taste much better. Try it with your next cup of coffee....you'll see what I mean.
For a more complete description of the art of coffee cupping, click here.
Coffee cupping in Portland is not a difficult thing to come by. There are many shops that schedule cupping times, sometimes daily, allowing anyone off the street with an interest in learning more to come in, get some free coffee, a free education, and a side-by-side taste test of various beans. These are usually led by an experienced Barista, working at the shop.
If there is any place I missed, feel free to contact me and let me know. Coffee cupping in Portland is something that every coffee lover should experience at least once. Who knows? A chance cupping may turn into a lifetime passion! ;)