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  1. All About Coffee Brewing

    All About Coffee Brewing

    Sign up for our coffee brewing crash course

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  2. Espresso Basics & More

    Espresso Basics & More

    Sign up for our espresso basics class

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  3. Coffee Tasting At Sweet Maria's - Feb. 28th

    Coffee Tasting At Sweet Maria's - Feb. 28th

    Sign up and taste the difference between coffees roasted in different machines

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  4. Coffee Tasting at Sweet Maria's - Nov. 16th

    Coffee Tasting at Sweet Maria's - Nov. 16th

    Sign up for our upcoming tasting event.

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  5. What The He — Is Jasmine?

    What The He — Is Jasmine?

    So, what is the taste and smell of jasmine? Yirgacheffes often have the most clear-cut jasmine notes of any coffee, but...

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  6. Bright Coffee

    Bright Coffee

    Here's a few coffees with exciting, snappy, zingy, citrusy, tart, vibrant notes

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  7. Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate...

    Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate...

    A few coffees where chocolate notes take the spotlight.

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  8. Sugar Cupping Part 2 -- Rough outline

    Sugar Cupping Part 2 -- Rough outline

    This is a very educational exercise you can easily try at home.

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  9. Sugar Cupping

    Sugar Cupping

    Sometimes tasting something that isn't coffee can help you learn more about what your coffee tastes like.

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  10. Taste and Price: When Values Shift

    Taste and Price: When Values Shift

    I recently caught glimpse of this and found it very thought-provoking.

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  11. Taste and Price: When Values Shift - DUPLICATE

    Taste and Price: When Values Shift - DUPLICATE

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  12. Podcast:More About Coffee Lexicons

    Podcast:More About Coffee Lexicons

    Cupping and talking about the taste lexicon of coffee with Tom and Chris Schooley

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Tasting: Cupping vs. Filtered Brewing

Tasting: Cupping vs. Filtered Brewing

Last week I took part in a coffee event, a barista competition of sorts, in Denver. CO. I had been asked to come down and deliver an interesting tasting experience. I was scratching my head for the better part of the week trying to decide what I might do for this particular event when I was lucky enough to receive some coffees from a roaster in Chicago who had purchased the coffee via Coffee Shrub. Among the coffees were two different roasts of the same Kenya, a coffee that I was already familiar with through my own tasting so I though it could be a great way to gather some notes for the roaster from a decent sized crowd as well as serve the purpose of the talking point coffee for the event.

As many of you have probably read here and otherwise in the Sweet Maria's Library, I've done plenty of side by side comparisons of different roasts of the same coffee. In order to make this particular tasting a little more interesting I added one more element. We would look at the two different roasts side by side via cupping, but then we would also look at the coffees side by side via a Chemex brew with a paper filter. How would the paper filtration affect our ability to taste the difference between the two roasts of the same coffee?

Now, the difference between the two roasts appeared on the surface to be a rather small difference, about 30 seconds of time during the first crack. During this point of the roast there is ongoing caramelization.  It's the point of the roast where the cellular structure of the coffee is at its most elastic and the cellulose is breaking down into non-sugar complex carbohydrates that can lend themselves to perceived mouthfeel.

The testing was blind but the results were quite telling and almost universal in terms of preference. Most people who took part in the tasting preferred the slightly longer roast, saying it had more sweetness, more potent of a dry fragrance, and a longer more fruited finish. The shorter roast was still very nice but had more aggressively bright acidity in the front of the palate with a drier, shorter finish. The preference was overwhelmingly the longer coffee. The really interesting part is that the differences between the roasts were much more evident through the Chemex brew with the paper filter. Generally, the sweetness, the perceived acidity and where they were perceived on the palate were much clearer in the filtered brew.

The cupping brew is much closer to a press pot brew and the thicker liquid can in some ways make it difficult for some tasters to look past this extra perceived mouthfeel. Cupping is honestly a method used for evaluating the coffee's quality itself, and not necessarily the differences in roast. This is not to say that cupping to look at roast differnces is bad practice, but it can be really eye opening to look through the coffees through more than one method.