I’d never been cupping before: it’s the process of tasting single origin beans to determine their quality. After turning up to the wrong branch of Toby’s Estate (should have gone straight to Chippendale), we arrive late to see a lucky few exploring the roasting area at the back of the store.
First, the coffee is ground, and placed in a glass dry. At this point, it’s tested for aroma: we’re encouraged by Chris Bonney (Toby’s roaster) to pick out different things that we can smell in the coffee.
Next, water is added (in our case, at around 93 degrees C). Once the timer rings, indicating that the coffee has had enough time to draw, we smell again: first, the crust of coffee is broken with a spoon, and you inhale the scent emanating from the liquid. The coffee smells quite different, surprisingly so.
Next, the initial tasting. Using the spoon again, some liquid is retrieved from the cup (trying not to retrieve any grounds). The coffee is slurped loudly from the spoon (to ensure a mix of air and coffee), and impressions are made on the palette.
After waiting a few minutes, another tasting (the "cold" tasting) is performed. This gives a better indication of what the coffee will taste like in that final mouthful before the customer leaves the cafe.
I learned a lot about how to pay attention to the taste of coffee, and also how much the flavours change over the brief interaction that coffee has with water. It’s made me even more keen to try my hand at roasting again.