Costa Rica La Minita Cupping ’01-’04 crops

Okay, here are the results of Mike McGuiness’ samples of 2001, 2002, 2003, and 2004 Costa Rica La Minita samples. First off, the samples were perfectly roasted! Great roast for cupping and very uniform.

Here’s how I set up the cups, labels all facing away from me and ground coffee in the cupping bowls. Then I simply scramble them until I have no idea which is which – it doesn’t take much!

Then I set down the bowls in front of their respective jars and start judging the dry fragrance.

After that I pour hot water and start a timer. OOPS – I dodnt’ prepare enough water and cup #4 is half filled. Seems like it will be okay to add a little more water within 2 minutes but the cup results make me wonder… later I prepare another cup of # 4 to be sure but you’ll see the results at the end …

After 3 minutes I break the crust on the cups, and blow the foam to the back of the cups.

Then I clean the foam off the cups and start cupping. In this photo I am pretty far along having formed all my initial impressions.

And here’s the scoring after I have added a 5th cup, a 2nd sample for #4 to check on the cup character that seems a bit dull to me. I still have some changes to make – hey, cuppers do change their minds and it’s fair to revise scores as a cup cools, although temperature instability in a coffee is not a good quality. But there are “Dr Jeckyl/Mr.Hyde” cups that only reveal their problems within certian temperature “windows”.

Okay – 26 minutes and cupping is over. Cup of Excellence usually allows 45 minutes from pouring the water until the finish, but that is way too long and the coffee has overextracted, even at 25 minutes. But a cold overextracted cup can still be used to confirm or not confirm things you sensed earlier.

Tah-dah – now I know which is which! And unfortunately it was ’04 that was #4, and #5. If it was #2 I wouldn’t have made another cup because I already knew which one that was by the intense bagginess.

Here is my score sheet. I am suprised and let me go cup by cup and expalin some things:

#1 – 2003 crop: I detected age in the aftertaste and a kind of sourish flatness to the acidity that lacked “sparkle” and denoted age. But I felt there was a moderately good cup behind this coffee and it remained clean and drinkable as it cooled, hence a +1. Overall I was impressed that this was old coffee and thought it had held up well. Not an exciting cup. I thought it had pretty nice body.

#2 – 2001 Crop: This one was pretty easy to nail from Dry Fragrance through the Aftertaste. It showed age in every taste category. As it cooled it really went off. Tough to say anything about the original cup quality of this coffee without the age factor – it was too strong. Body was good though.

3# 2002 Crop: Despite the score, this probably impressed me the most – not that it was good but it wasn’t bad and I really couldn’t tell which was ’03 and which was ’02 (I pretty much knew the 01 and 04 right off the bat despite cup problems with #4). I felt like, behind the age in this cup, was perhaps a better coffee. Body was good, and my initial low flavor impressions were unconfirmed, it wasn’t bad (hence the up arrow and a correction). I gave it a small .5 overall correction because I found the cup drinkable. I don’t think ’02 coffee stored under other conditions would be as clean. That said, I knew it was old and the aftertaste brightness turned a bit harsh and metallic.

#4 2004 crop: Okay, this was the suprise for me. Despite the fact that it was the cleanest cup, had a sparkle in the acidity, I found it not *that* much better. I would feel that it should be a lot better, and it really suffered in Body. Since there was a water problem with cup 4 that might have caused it to cup a little flatter (this is what low water temp will do) I repoured it and found it just a TINY bit better, not much. SO my feeling is that there was a better coffee overall in the original ’02 and ’03 crop CRLM and this ’04 CRLM, while nice, is a notch below. That means if you could magincally age all these 4 coffees the exact same amount in the same conditions, from “fresh” to now, I think ’04 would cup worse than ’03 and ’02. But thats a hunch. The fact that the score is lower than I tend to score CRLM on a table of other CR coffees (and usually a large table of 10 coffees or so) is okay with me because the surrounding coffees will influence your taste … the fact that the ’04 did not separate itself in dramatic fashion from ’02 and ’03 concerns me more. I am going now, to roast some samples of ’04 for myself and cup them with the other cr’s to see what I find.

I am looking forward to Mike’s other results and see how it all lines up!

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