I attended a local (Bay Area) cuppingCupping is a method of tasting coffee by steeping grounds in separate cups for discrete amounts of ground coffee, to reveal good flavors and defects to their fullest.... ...more in early April that was interesting in two aspects: we cupped some very nice Indian coffees that I never had access to before, and we did it at Mr. EspressoA small coffee beverage, about 20 ml, prepared on an espresso machine where pressurized hot water extracted through compressed coffee.: In its most stripped-down, basic form, this is... ...more, a wholesale roaster that uses unique Italian wood-fired coffee roasters.
|The cupping was held in Mr. Espresso’s showroom/cupping room. Here’s a partial picture of the group there, with a bunch of SF Bay Area roasters and brokers. Ken David, author of coffee books (which we sell) set up the cupping and is paid as a consultant by the Coffee Board of IndiaIndian coffees are under-represented in the coffee market: they are good balanced, mild coffees. You will find the pronounced body, low acidity and subtle spicy notes pleasing, and... ...more. He’s in the light brown shirt.
The cupping was very, very limited. I expected 20 samples or so and there was just 10. But several of the coffees were very unique, and I have been talking with brokers about trying to bring these coffees into the US so we can buy a few bags. We evaluated ArabicaArabica refers to Coffea Arabica, the taxonomic species name of the genus responsible for around 75% of the worlds commercial coffee crop.: Arabica refers to Coffea Arabica, the... ...more and RobustaAteng is a common name for Catimor coffees widely planted in Sumatra and other Indonesia isles.: Ateng, with several subtypes, is a common name for Catimor coffees widely... ...more coffees separately and tasted the RobustaRobusta usually refers to Coffea Robusta, responsible for roughly 25% of the world's commercial coffee. Taxonomy of Robusta is debated: some sources use “Robusta” to refer to any... ...more in a traditional cupping format and as espresso too.
India has its own particular grading system.
For Monsooned Arabica:
We cupped two coffees that we actually sell; the Cohelo’s Cold Monsooned Malabar AA, and the Indian Pearl Mountain EstateA "coffee estate" is used to imply a farm that has its own processing facility, a wet-mill. In Spanish this is called an Hacienda. A Finca (farm) does... ...more from Chikmagalur. (We actually cupped the flatbean of this coffee, whereas this time in my own cupping I thought the PeaberryThe Spanish-language term for Peaberry is the same for "snail". See Peaberry for more information on the single bean fruit of the coffee tree. A peaberry is the... ...more was much better, and that’s what we stock currently 04/03).
Two arabica coffee we evaluated that really impressed me were the Jumboor Estate MNEB from Coorg district. It was a very complete cup, with sageA flavor hint of sage found in coffee, either leafy sage, dried sage, or sage flower. This could indicate a more rustic cup quality, or even defect flavor... ...more and thyme nuances. I also really liked the Badnekahn Estate coffee from Chikmagalur. It is of the SL-9 cultivarCultivar is a term used interchangeably with Varietal in the coffee trade to indicate plant material, although there are distinctions.: The naming of a cultivar should conform to... ...more that has Ethiopian heritage, and there was indeed an identifiable fruitiness in the cup.
We cupped SLN Exports Kaapi Royale – very nice qualities, and very potent Devon Plantation Parchment AB Robusta that was my favorite. Of the Monsooned we cupped just two: Aspinwall AA and Coehlo’s Gold. I preferred the Coehlo’s for its potency.
|Mr. Espresso’s Wood-Fired Roasters|
|Mr. Espresso uses unique Italian wood-fired roasters. ALL the heat is supplied by just a few oak logs, and this is astounding when you see the size of the machines. These are big roasters: a 4 bag in the foreground and a 2 bag in the background.
The size of the Stirflexes (cooling trays) themselves is enormous, and when you are used to standing by a smaller machine (I have a 12 kilo Probat), you feel small next to these giants. But I imagine over time you just get used to it.
|This view might give you a better idea of the size.
The idea of wood-fired roasting might seem a bit anachronistic. In fact, the coffee is not smoked by wood: the heat is entirely baffled from the coffee. The idea is that wood is a less-dry heat than atmospheric gas, and the roast times are extended a bit (which suits espresso, but and darker roast French roasts perhaps … I don’t like longer roasts with delicate coffees, personally).
Roast times are 20-26 minutes if I heard correctly.
|Here’s the remarkably small door for the wood oven. There seems to be room for just 10 logs or less. And it appears they stoke it with about 6-8 logs between roasts.
You can’t see here, but the oven is so hot that the logs are literally translucent. With no heat being vented outside of the roast system, you can see that it is an extremely efficient heat-capturing system.
Thanks to John DiRuocco for the tour. His father and the family own and operate the company; John is the QC person, cupperOne who cups, or tastes and evaluates, coffee.: A cupper is a person who performs the somewhat formal analysis of coffee quality, called cupping. See the definition of... ...more, and green coffeeGreen coffee refers to the processed seed of the coffee tree fruit. Coffee is a flowering shrub that produces fruit. The seeds of the fruit are processed, roasted,... ...more buyer. We actually met at the SCAP PanamaPanama coffee ranges from medium quality lower altitude farms to those at 1600 - 1800 meters centered in the area of Boquete in the Chirqui district near the... ...more Cupping in Boquette, and will be on the same panel of judges for the NicaraguaNicaraguan coffees from the Segovia, Jinotega, Ocotal and Matagalpa regions are nice balanced cups. They often possess interesting cup character along with body and balance, outperforming many other... ...more “Cup of Excellence” this year too. -Tom 4/03
|John uses a little San Franciscan cupping roaster -cool little thing!!! Don’t get too worked up over it though -last time I checked they were $4000.
By the way, the DO sell roasted coffee and if you are an espresso fiend, you should definitely give them a try.