Public tastings

Share |

Postby ChrisSchooley » Wed Jun 06, 2012 10:14 am

What's the most successful public tasting/cupping that you've ever been a part of, host or participant? What made it work? What was the biggest take away?
Posts: 174
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:35 pm
First Name: Christopher
Last Name: Schooley
City: Fort Collins
State: CO
Zip Code: 80526
Company: Coffee Shrub
Occupation: Roaster, Micro-Seller of Green Coffee
Roasting Since (Year): 2001
Location: Fort Collins, CO.

Postby Scapistrant » Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:20 pm

Great topic, this has come up a lot lately.

I went to a public cupping in Atlanta at the Counter Culture training center. Before, I was adamantly opposed to the idea for a few reasons. I felt that cupping was for professional evaluation or either green coffee or the roast. I always felt that cupping coffees and drinking coffees were vastly different. And I thought this would be distracting or misleading in some way. However, it was a very simple cupping. Only three coffees. They used the cupping to focus or sensory skills, such as acidity, body, finish, etc. Presenting fundamentals is important. The consumer walks away with (albeit basic) knowledge of coffee. Furthermore, it excites the consumer, and isn't that important? If I had more time, I would seriously consider holding one.
Posts: 39
Joined: Thu Mar 04, 2010 8:22 pm
First Name: Sean
Last Name: Capistrant
City: Chicago
State: IL
Zip Code: 60640
Company: Metropolis Coffee Co.
Occupation: Roaster
Roasting Since (Year): 2009
Location: Chicago, IL

Postby ChrisSchooley » Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:41 pm

I really want to keep pushing this discussion. One thing that I think is the most important thing to focus on in a public tasting/cupping is that the participants walk away successful. That they tasted what they were supposed to taste, even if all they were supposed to taste is that there was a difference. I can't stress this enough; if what you're focusing on is tasting the coffee and telling people what they're supposed to be tasting, or even just throwing a ton of descriptors at them that they are not tasting themselves, they're not going to walk away happy.
Posts: 174
Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 3:35 pm
First Name: Christopher
Last Name: Schooley
City: Fort Collins
State: CO
Zip Code: 80526
Company: Coffee Shrub
Occupation: Roaster, Micro-Seller of Green Coffee
Roasting Since (Year): 2001
Location: Fort Collins, CO.

Postby ErichRosenberg » Wed Jun 13, 2012 3:28 pm

I hold public cupping almost every Friday, one at 10am, and one at Noon...we have probably seen over 400 cuppers in the last year. I keep it to to four cups per person, and each person gets their own station, usually three processing methods and orgins are represented on the table. I make sure I have an "accessible" coffee for everyone, this is usually a Colombian (or similar, a basic coffee you know your parents would like). Then I'll move on to a washed Ethiopian, then a natural Ethiopian and then an Indonesian. (or something like these) If I was grading the tables I put down, I would usually walk away with a headache, but I have never had a person who could not tell the differences in body, acidity and flavor nuances between these coffees. I will often put a big brand on the table as well.

My main goal is to show people that how different the coffees can be, we spend a lot of time talking about how many hands have touched it and how many people are involved in their cup of coffee. It is very question driven by the cuppers, each session is different. My secondary goal is to get them to buy from someone who is like minded, it doesn't have be us, just someone who loves coffee as much as we do.
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 12:08 pm
First Name: Erich
Last Name: Rosenberg
City: Denver
State: Co
Zip Code: 80220
Company: Novo Coffee
Occupation: Roaster
Roasting Since (Year): 2003

Postby rojo » Fri Jun 15, 2012 6:52 am

We hosted rounds of cuppings at a museum exhibit about coffee which made an inherently curious audience, but we do approach any customer interaction at the cupping table pretty much the same:

We use cupping as a way to both show that/how professionals get down into the experience of tasting the coffee. For these general consumers I think there's an element of inviting them into the theater of it while also showing them some wonderful contrasts. We generally pick pretty variant coffees either vastly different coffees from different countries or maybe showing them roast level/development stuff that's simple but tries to hook in that idea of what bad coffee is or how differently it can be roasted. Consumers down to hop into a cupping tend to enjoy process like we do, so the best experiences we've had are the ones where people have a little epiphany at each and every step in the process, which I think is just so awesome and reminds me of the first times cupping hit me like that.
Posts: 89
Joined: Tue Mar 02, 2010 2:48 pm
First Name: Ryan
Last Name: Gonzales Johnson
City: Brooklyn
State: NY
Zip Code: 11215
Company: Portland Roasting
Occupation: Roaster/QC
Roasting Since (Year): 2007
Location: Brooklyn New York

Postby nolandutton » Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:10 am

Where I work we host two tastings at the same time each week, but at two different locations. We host what we call a 'Brew Bar Tasting' at our downtown retail location where we brew one coffee in three different brew methods. We make a french press, and chemex with a Kone filter, and a V60 pourover. This is an attempt to educate our customers about a couple of different ideas. One being how a brew method can change your perception of the attributes of a coffee. Another thing is a customer can decide what their 'favorite' brew method is and brew coffee at home the same way, or learn a new favorite (this is a huge success when they realize they like something that they didn't know they did!). Finally, for repeat tasters, very curious customers can decided which coffees they like brewed in which brew method. This is amazing because of our rotating single origin selections and always offering the same three brew methods, customers have started ordering specific coffees with a specific brew method! This allows customization of their coffee experience and an understanding of what they order and why!

The other tasting we hold at the same time is in the lab at our roasting facility. Here we host a public cupping. Other people are welcome to bring in coffee, either stuff they roasted at home or from another roasting company. We have been holding our public cuppings for several years now and we have built quite the following. We have a lot of regulars who dabble with home roasting to varying amounts, others who work at different coffee companies nearby, and also just very interested people. I understand that cupping is not the way people will drink coffee at home, but we talk about that almost every week by discussing the benefits of cupping and the reasons why we do it as professionals. I think the public gets a sense of experiencing something that they wouldn't normally be exposed to, and it is exciting! We provide a very open forum to discuss taste and differences in the coffee and to discuss almost any topic that gets brought up. Discussions range from 'how should I store my coffee?' to in depth explorations into processing techniques and fermentation times. Based on the amount of repeat cuppers and even people who come every week, I think our cuppings are highly successful events. Providing an open exploration of sensory evaluation and coffee discussion is a great way to encourage customers to try new things and promote a more specialty experience.

We have found that with these tastings, promoting consumer education, even if it's just one consumer at a time, is the best way to promote a community of coffee drinkers, not milk and sugar drinkers.
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu May 24, 2012 7:14 am
First Name: Nolan
Last Name: Dutton
City: Boulder
State: CO
Zip Code: 80301
Company: Ozo Coffee Roasters
Occupation: Roaster
Roasting Since (Year): 2008

Postby JoeMarrocco » Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:28 pm

If our goal in hosting cupping events is to bring new people (customers) into the specialty coffee drinking fold, I am of the opinion that our friends in the rest of the beverage industry and culinary community have laid the ground work well. People are actually willing to pay for tastings, pairings, chef's tables, and special culinary events at restaurants, breweries, distilleries and wineries.

What are they doing that we are not? (And by we, I mean the majority of us... sure there are exceptions.)

When going to a wine tasting, drinking a beer flight, or eating a chef's tasting menu there are a few key elements that I feel a formal cupping lacks.
1: Fun. To the new cupper, a cupping is not fun. Simply put, it is weird. they are told protocols to abide by that are more about evaluation than enjoyment. Slurping in public is awkward. describing a nuance in a bold beverage like coffee for the first time in front of other adults is awkward and imposing. Very few people (which, admittedly, I am one of the few) just LOVE to put themselves out there and boldly fail at describing something. We are asking people to wear their rookie status on their sleeves. This is just not fun.
When tasting wine: FUN! Beer: FUN! I do not give full credit to the alcohol content either. My experiences have been mostly pleasant. I am led into the experience very unassumingly. I have an attendant present or bartender handy who can answer questions, but is not correcting my form. I am basically allowed the space to enjoy the experience. The beverage itself leads me to further questions. My interest level is built around the experience with the beverage. A tasting menu brings this even further. A great chef will build fun into the experience. The act of taking in a great tasting menu is similar, for me, to taking in a concert or a work of visual art. I am experiencing art that is drawing something out of me, whether that is a question or a smile, or a change in my perspective about an ingredient. The element of fun is tool toward change that I am arguing we are not taking full advantage of.

2: Setting. From what i have experienced, Public cuppings happen in the oddest environments. Are we really asking everyday people to enjoy coffee tasting by inviting them to a cramped lab, to slurp and spit in the middle of an open cafe, or to sense delicate aromas and flavors in a roasting facility? The environment is critical to the success of the taster in "getting it". A bar is the perfect setting to taste beer. A classy table is the perfect environment to enjoy a tasting menu. A lab is a great place to analyze green coffee or assess a roast. What is the best environment for this?

This leads me to a solution. I propose that we DO continue to invite our guests to share in tasting coffee. I DO think that for those geeky and adventurous enough to cup that we continue to offer that knowledge and experience. But, for the average person who is new to the specialty coffee world, let's go back to the age old wisdom of setting the table. Let's have an inviting, warm environment, interesting coffees, interesting pairings, different brewing methods, purpose behind the preparation, beautiful flavor experiences, and let's blow our guests minds with the art that is the result of our growing, sourcing, roasting and brewing crafts. We do not need to take a backseat to the rest of the beverage and culinary industry. Coffee, as we all know, is not boring or weird. Let's prove it!

Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:43 pm
First Name: Joseph
Last Name: Marrocco
City: Saint Paul
State: MN
Zip Code: 55102
Company: Cafe' Imports
Occupation: Green Coffee Sales
Roasting Since (Year): 2008

Return to “%s” Cupping

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest