Getting into the coffee business means I need to know a little more than the average consumer when it comes to my product. My journey with coffee is probably like many others. You start drinking coffee, most likely with a ton of cream and sugar, and you get your caffeine fix. My journey started while deployed with the U.S Army to Afghanistan. Try pulling guard for 12 hours every day for a month with no added boost. Thats where coffee came in.
Over the years I slowly weened myself from using any type of dairy and sugar. Today, the only way I drink my coffee is black. I went years without knowing how good pure black coffee really is. Once you begin taking note of the aroma, taste and the way it washes down, you can never truly appreciate the simple notes and textures of brewed coffee.
So now that I am free of coffee with dairy and sugar and truly enjoy what's brewed, it's time to really dig deep and better understand not just what's in my cup but where it's from and what that means for the flavor profile.
Like wine connoisseurs, the coffee world has what's called "Q Graders". These are professional coffee tasters/drinkers or in this case graders. These are people that have the acquired skill to determine an origin of coffee with a well practiced sniff and sip. They aren't swirling, sniffing, sipping and spitting like in the wine world. Although the process takes the same amount of skill, coffee goes through many changes during the cupping process.
Coffee goes through three aroma or olfactory tests during the cupping process. Each time the aroma is inhaled notes regarding the different smells are written down. Once the aroma is identified, the coffee steep is removed from the cup which makes room for the good stuff, taste time! The coffee is then sipped in a way to get the coffee to the back of the tongue. This loud, abrupt and unique technique releases an abundance of flavor. The key is to pay attention and take notes. It's silly to non coffee lovers or even just the average coffee drinker but it really does make a difference in how to understand coffee better.