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December 2004 - Steve Aronson
Coffee tasters, aka “cuppers” have a specialized vocabulary which works very well when they communicate among themselves.
example, for a cupper, “highly acidity” is a good thing. “Woody” is
bad. Words like these sustain the coffee industry and help expert
cuppers distinguish good coffees from great ones.
But they say
very little to average coffee lovers – those who care enough about what
they drink to order Café Britt, but who can’t be bothered with industry
And why should they be bothered? Beginning this month, we at Café Britt are reinventing the way we talk about our coffees.
growing regions, soils and weather conditions produce subtle flavor
differences that we can liken to flavors and sensations that occur in
nature – grapefruit, allspice, chocolate, figs, nougat, and cloves.
a little touchy feely? The French wine industry’s been doing it for
generations, as I discovered on a recent trip to the Bordeaux region,
where I took a class in wine tasting.
Using descriptors that really speak to people, French wine
makers have educated their customers and enticed them to sample and
appreciate new varieties.
By applying these principles to coffee,
we hope, for the first time, to provide Café Britt lovers an insight
into our coffees’ subtle differences and the fun of sampling and
discerning these subtle differences for themselves.
the past several months subjecting all our coffees to guided taste
tests, first among our sales staff and baristas and then later to our
expert cuppers. We’ve reached a series of “real world” flavor
comparisons that will become part of our “real world” coffee
“Acidity”, “body”. These are industry standards
that will forever define great coffees. But what would you rather drink?
A coffee with high acidity or one whose dark roast brings out a flavor
that hints of figs and dark chocolate?
I’d go for the dark chocolate. And I’ve been cupping coffee for 33 years.
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