Class Cup #1: Behind the filter (Repost from http://bit.ly/wYNvqZ)

Working in the world of specialty coffee it is easy to get caught up in the showmanship and flash…”my coffee is more special because it comes from a nine generational farm high on the side of an active volcano in Brazil…” or the new fad “this coffee is so rare because it passes through the digestive system of an endangered bat only found in the hills of Micronesia.”
Oh and it doesn’t stop there…the process of cupping coffee is just as bad at times. To cup coffee is to put ground coffee in a cup, pour water over it, and let it steep for four minutes. Than smell and taste the coffee.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love to cup coffee. It is the best way to check the quality of the raw bean, to test for roast level – that is to say that some coffees (like an Indonesian) taste best at a darker roast; unlike most Ethiopians that taste better (to me) at a lighter roast. Yes, they can be roasted dark but what tends to happen is the natural flavors start to get cooked out. Like Hank Hill (King of The Hill) says “Taste the meat, not the heat!” only hear it is taste the coffee not steak (yum steak!)
Where was I? Oh yes cupping. Now at these cuppings it is very common to state what you personally taste in the cup…and while it is true that coffee has more flavors than wine does…some of the these Coffee Geeks and Snobs don’t know when enough is enough.
A few years back I was at a public cupping (and it was so traumatic I still talk about it) where the “Coffee Expert” was tasting the coffees and he kept going on and on about how this one tasted like red tomatoes, this one tasted of green tomatoes, but that one tasted like fried green tomatoes with a hint of garlic!
I wanted to grab this dude by his tie (I really dislike ties, but I won’t talk about that now) and bark at him “O M G What did you have for lunch, man?”
By now I am sure you are asking what is my point? (and to be honest I am struggling to remember too)
I have two points. My first is that coffee, much like wine I assume, is very mental. If I tell you “this coffee I am drinking has hints of strawberries“ than I hand you my cup. Guess what happens next? You taste strawberries! (Confession: I am bad at hiding my thoughts while I am cupping especially if the coffee is really good or really bad) And let’s be real, how many of us have ever drunk a cup of coffee and thought “someone put tomato soup in my coffee.”
My second point is that the average coffee drinker DOESN’T CARE! The people that are going to Starbucks, McDonalds, or God forbid Seven Eleven (I had it a while ago at the urging of a friend, it was the only cup of coffee I couldn’t finish it was nasty) don’t care where their coffee comes from. They want to get their coffee and get on with their day.
With all this said here it is: I am going to try and write a series of posts that will peek behind the curtain of specialty coffee. I will do my best to demystify what is in your cup and what you are putting into your body.
My goal is to make sure people like @DragynAlly (one of my twitter followers, in fact she spawned the idea for all of this) understands why some coffee is seven dollars a pound, while others are twenty eight dollars a pound. Why the coffee here always tastes burnt, while the coffee there has such an after taste.
While I am working on my next post “Class Cup #2: Espresso or Drip” please feel free to tweet (@BCDodge_me), email, or post your questions or comments.
DISCLAMER: PLEASE BE AWARE THE THESE POST ARE AND WILL BE HEAVLY LACED WITH PERSONAL OPIOIN. MY STATEMENTS ARE BASED ON MY YEARS WORKING IN SPECIALITY COFFEE AND AS A ROASTMASTER, AS WELL AS BEING A LIFE LONG COFFEE DRINKER.