Notes from the Cupping Table: May 2024

Posted by Lauren Lathrop on

In May, we hosted two sessions of Roasting 101 here in Minneapolis. We also filmed a new video on our Weigh/Fill machine (look for it soon on our YouTube Channel). We’d previously taken a position on some great new coffees like the FTO Guatemala, which meant we had a break in our purchasing schedule for the month. Instead of buying new coffees, we checked in on the coffees in our production line-up, tasted a few of the greens we have on our retail menu, and worked closely with new private label customers developing new profiles for their green coffees.

It’s nice to revisit coffees we’ve had on hand for a little while and remember what we loved about them when we first tasted them. It’s also great to see how small changes in our roast profiles continue to improve these coffees as Bryant, our lead roaster, iterates on them and brings out ever-improving notes and characteristics of these coffees.

Here are some highlights:

EL SALVADOR FINCA SAN JOSE

We had a student join us for roasting class at the beginning of the year. He was purchasing a roaster from us and starting a new roasting company in Florida. But he’s not new to coffee, his family owns coffee farms in El Salvador and his long-term goal is to import their coffee, roast it, and introduce it to the American market. 

After he returned home from class, he shared a green sample of his family’s coffee with us to evaluate. The coffee was very nice. Rich chocolate and praline, sweet toasted wheat, red licorice, butterscotch, green apple with caramel sauce. The coffee would make an exceptional medium roast and be an all-day drinker.

What we tasted were pre-ship samples, meaning the coffee wasn’t warehoused in the states at the time. When it arrived in the US, he sent us a second arrival sample. That sample was nice as well, but at that time we didn’t have a space for it on our menu. We decided to keep him in mind for next year when we’re sourcing new Central Americans, when we hope to have room in the roastery for his coffee. 

BRAZIL ANAEROBIC NATURAL

This coffee was brought to us by one of our private label customers. We are working with him to develop roast profiles for his coffee, roast and package it into his retail bags, and deliver it to him to be sold in his online store and be served at a local cafe where his brand is doing a pop-up. 

We had already worked with this customer to develop a single-origin natural Ethiopia and a blend of Ethiopia and Guatemala. These are his flagship coffees, they’ll be on his menu year-round and play a major role in developing his brand identity. In May, he had a few bags of an anaerobic natural from Brazil delivered. This coffee is a new single-origin for his company’s menu and will be featured at a new pop-up in New York City. 

Due to a short turnaround time, we didn’t have the usual opportunity to explore the coffee with multiple test roasts and cupping sessions. Instead, we took the profile for the natural Ethiopia we’d already developed and used that as a jumping-off point for this Brazil. The profile was successful and needed very little adjustments. 

In the cup, we tasted almond butter and chocolate chips, raisin, brown butter, and blood orange. The mouthfeel was round and slightly drying with a black tea-like astringency. Our customer is marketing this coffee as “elevated diner coffee” and we all agreed that if we were served this Brazil with our eggs and bacon, we’d be stoked. 

ETHIOPIA ARICHA

This coffee has been in our line-up for a few months. We’re roasting it every week for wholesale customers and it has been used as a blend component in our Espresso for Lighter Roasts. 

Tasting it blind on the cupping table, I would have confused it for the natural processed Ethiopia Chelbessa. The fruit-forward characteristics reminded me of sweet berry jam, fresh raspberries, and tangerine. But the crystal clean body, floral aroma, and notes of bittersweet bergamot oil give it away as a washed coffee. 

We feature this coffee on our Toll Roasting menu where the notes are “Silky and perfumed with a sparkling acidity. Notes of peach, marmalade, and grapefruit.” It’s what I can only describe as a “pretty” coffee. It tastes like it should be sipped out of a champagne flute. It’s delightful. 

This month, we’re teaching another class and heading to New Orleans for Coffee Fest. We’re also starting to plan our welcome party for Coffee Fest Minneapolis, which is taking place in October. As the hometown hosts, we’re so excited to welcome coffee friends to our city and we’re planning an open house shindig for the Thursday night before the show starts. Keep an eye on our social media channels for more information. 

Until then, catch us at the cupping table, in the garden, and out on the lake! Happy June.

Want to read more? Check out last months notes from the cupping table.

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