Coffee 101: Stumptown Coffee Cupping

Okay, so this is going to be a different kind of post and definitely more of a diary style one…hope you guys don’t mind! Last week, we had the pleasure of going to a Stumptown cupping in DTLA and had such an amazing first experience.

Like we said when we first started this whole coffee adventure – we aren’t experts, nor do we ever want to make people feel inferior to the small bits of coffee knowledge we do know. Our goal has always been to have an open community of people who love coffee and love people. Simple! So, since moving back to California, we are experiencing things for the first time as a married couple and we knew that cuppings were going to be a lot easier to find in LA, especially with some of the third wave heavyweights all in one city.
So, hold on, back up…what is a cupping exactly? A cupping is essentially a scientific way roasters will use to determine if the beans are worth brewing. You find different characteristics with each bean and get to compare one to another. Pretty awesome, stuff, right?


Okay, so this is going to be a different kind of post and definitely more of a diary style one…hope you guys don’t mind! Last week, we had the pleasure of going to a Stumptown cupping in DTLA and had such an amazing first experience.

Like we said when we first started this whole coffee adventure – we aren’t experts, nor do we ever want to make people feel inferior to the small bits of coffee knowledge we do know. Our goal has always been to have an open community of people who love coffee and love people. Simple! So, since moving back to California, we are experiencing things for the first time as a married couple and we knew that cuppings were going to be a lot easier to find in LA, especially with some of the third wave heavyweights all in one city. 

So, hold on, back up…what is a cupping exactly? A cupping is essentially a scientific way roasters will use to determine if the beans are worth brewing. You find different characteristics with each bean and get to compare one to another. Pretty awesome, stuff, right?


Now back to our experience at Stumptown. We walked in sweating like pigs, not because we were nervous, but because we decided to walk .7 miles (hey, free parking is free parking especially in LA), grab a slice of hot pizza to eat in the extremely blazing hot 90 degree (fall…hahaha) sun and then head over to Stumptown. We’re not even exaggerating…we had sweat coming out of every little crevice of our being. Sorry for the visual, but really we need to drive home the fact that we were a hot, sweaty mess walking into this cupping.

Thankfully once we walked in we were the only ones there besides our lovely coffee education specialist, Erica! We don’t know who was more happy to see who as it had just turned 2 and nobody was there. And guys, not to sound bossy but we HIGHLY recommend going to a cupping especially if you love coffee and it’s free, like Stumptown’s. So we settled in a bit and waited to see if a few more people would show up, then we got started!

So, Erica explained to us how a cupping worked (newbie alert) and told us to begin with smelling each bean and getting a sense of each ones’ aroma. There were five different roasts and one blend (the hair bender) on the table with two cups for each one and we just went down the line and smelled the first cup (that one kinda cleanses your palette) then the second (which was where you could smell the true flavor come out). Just from the first smells Jay had a liking to the first one, the Ethiopian, which had tasting notes of jasmine, grapefruit and oolong tea. For Whit, it was the Indonesian with notes of cranberry, sage and pineapple.


As we continued to smell the coffee beans, a few more people started filtering in which was nice and Erica started grinding each one. After each one was done grinding, she wanted us to smell how different it smelled from just being a coffee bean to now. Ugh, we’re a sucker for freshly ground coffee so this was pure heaven for us.

 

Then, the magic started to happen, she started to brew each cup with water that was just right (it needs to be 200 degrees Fahrenheit to pour over ground coffee). As they each brewed for four long minutes, we watched a few videos about some of the coffee producers (they don’t like to call them farmers at Stumptown) Stumptown works with. We heard an incredible story about Columbia’s number one coffee producer, Arturo Sr.’s El Injerto. He has won the Cup of Excellence year after year after year and in a country that has a lot of coffee farms, that’s saying something!

After the video, it was time to “break the crust.” According to the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA), the proper way to break the crust is to “stir three times then allow the foam to run down the back of the spoon while gently sniffing.” Now that was pretty fun! Erica told us that we needed to really get our noses right next to the cup and sniff because the aroma was going to really come alive. And she was right. The coffee smelled so good that we couldn’t wait to taste it!

And that’s when we each grabbed our special cupping spoon. Did you know there was a special spoon for cupping? We didn’t. The spoon needs to hold 4-5 ml of coffee sample and be of non-reactive metal. Guess we need a special cupping spoon!


Let the tasting begin! Whit was the brave soul to go first in tasting. Huh, what’s the big deal about tasting coffee? Well, you see, coffee is crafty nowadays (this isn’t your mama’s Folger’s) and coffee cuppings are similar to wine tastings. You do weird things with your mouth that might seem annoying or rude in any other setting. For coffee tastings, you take your special spoon and grab some coffee then slurp it. Like, we’re talking slurp it so loudly that people in the next room can hear you. So, we slurped each one and got a little too slurp happy because it was almost death by coffee. We were buzzin’ by the time it was all done. We mean, party in Stumptown on a Friday afternoon with coffee running through our veins. Then we decided that that wasn’t enough and grabbed a few vanilla lattes to go and headed out to a few other coffee shops in the area. Needless to say, we like coffee. A lot.

So we got extra chatty from the coffee, made new friends (hey Erica!), learned something new about the coffee we love and brought home some awesome beans for our Hario V60…yep that’s our next coffee adventure – learning how to brew our coffee with a Hario. Should be fun. Maybe we should film it and put it on YouTube or our Instagram story…what do you guys think? Have you brewed with a Hario V60? Let us know because we need some help!!


Also, if you do want to check out Stumptown’s cupping in DTLA, they have one every Friday at 2pm…you’ll be learning with the very fun and informative Erica. And let us know if you’ve been to a proper coffee cupping or would like to join us on our next one! We’re thinking Augie’s! Let us know and connect with us on our Instagram or Twitter!

 

Wanna grab some coffee?

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