Last week I went with some friends to a crash course on cupping coffee. Cupping is the art of observing aroma and taste in coffee. It is done in a lab using defined parameters to compare each coffee.
We had a great time smelling and tasting coffee, but I think it would take me the normal 2-year schooling process to refine my taste buds and sense of smell to be able to detect all the different nuances of scent and flavor.
The main benefit that I was hoping to receive was a greater awareness of the many things that can affect coffee flavors, especially the negative effects. I was not disappointed. Each coffee on a given plot has its intrinsic flavors, caused by variety, soil conditions, and climate, etc. We really can hardly improve on this inherent flavor; rather, our greatest challenge is to minimize the deterioration of quality in every step of the process.
And there are plenty of opportunities to lose quality. From crop care to picking management to post-harvest processing, storage and sorting, we must give close attention to many details to ensure keeping the highest possible quality of flavor. I hope to use this knowledge to continue to improve this coffee you enjoy and give you an even better experience.