So as mentioned in the behind the scenes roasting article I wrote about JJ Bean, I needed to talk about the cupping process and why it's important. So here we go! Behind The Scenes of JJ Bean Part 2: The Cupping:
For those of you that have no clue what cupping is, I am here to educate you in the ways of coffee cupping. The process of Cupping is tasting coffee in the most simple fashion. The purpose of cupping for coffee roasters is to try different coffees that have been roasted and taste test the coffees to see which you want to possibly sell, which need to get tweaked a bit, and which need to be tossed. Roasters will do this whenever they want to introduce a new coffee to their line up, whenever they change up the beans, or just because they feel like checking to make sure the quality they want to keep is still being upheld.
You take ground beans and place them a small cup (usually you'll find cupping is done with ceramic white cups or at least that has been my experience) and when you have all the coffees you want to try out all laid out in different cups you start pouring hot water on them all and let them brew. Nice and simple: just hot water and ground beans.
After you've let it brew for 4 minutes or so, you're ready to taste the coffee. You grab yourself a spoon and at the top where you see the soaked ground beans, you break it and basically scoop a small amount of brewed coffee to taste. You swirl it and either drink it or spit it out depending on how much coffee you're about to drink. It sounds gross, I know, but it allows you to get the full sensation of the coffee.
Now my experience was a bit intriguing because I was accompanied by the head roaster of JJ Bean, Grady Buhler, and he walked me through his process to decide if he's gonna keep a certain coffee or not. To make that decision he compared it to other coffees that they were already selling, and a few that were already in the works that were approved. We tried about 10 different coffees to ensure that the final decision about this one coffee was fair.
It was amazing to see how Grady evaluates the coffees. He would take notes on the different flavor profiles he found in the coffee, profiles that could only come from an experienced coffee drinker. It also amazed me how thorough he was in making a decision. In terms of the sheer analysis, he spent time truly evaluating whether the coffee was good enough to be sold in the stores.
There is so much thought that goes into the cupping process,from which coffees you will be trying, the coffees you'll be trying against it, and what you are hoping the outcome to be. I learned a lot just spending a few hours at the cupping with Grady, so for those of you that have never gone to one I suggest you check out your local coffee shop and see if they offer one. JJ Bean offers a cupping from time to time so keep an eye out on their instagram page because they will keep you posted on when their next cupping session is.
So ends the Behind the Scenes at JJ Bean two parter. If there are any questions you have about what goes on behind the scenes at coffee shops/roasteries, let me know in the comments and I'll make sure to ask on your behalf.
Alfred Drinking Coffee