an odd day of cupping …

coffee. It can be rough to cup mixed tables of coffee in one day, or mixed flights. Having just returned from Kenya, it struck me how efficiently, quickly, almost mechanically they cup coffee there. 223/2 . 323. 233. Body, acidity flavor. The cupper doesn’t even write down their own scores. That would slow things down. But they cup Kenyas all day long, day-in-day-out, 650 per week, 2x per sample, plus 600 Tanzanias, plus re-cups, totaling 2,000 or even 3,000 coffees a week! wow. They have 3 sample roasters, 5 barrels each, running for hours each day. But oddly, they don’t face my challenge. Today, 1 table of Central America pre-ships from the new crop, 1 table of re-cups of the top Kenyas, a table of Brazils, and then 3 different in-depth single coffee cuppings to write reviews. That involves a lot of “gear-changing” and it can be hard. I admit, the Brazil table was dismal. Everything tasted like dusty herbs, with a few weeds thrown in. I will try again tomorrow with those, maybe it was just the context, or maybe they were truly all bad. As a cupper, I think one of the best skills you can develop is skepticism, and suspended judgment. Sure, first impressions count. But they can be awfully wrong too. That’s part of the challenge, and enjoyment as well.

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3 Responses to “an odd day of cupping …”


  1. 1 Polites

    Tom, I’m a new customer of Sweet Maria’s by virtue of having purchased a Gene Cafe roaster from you (an upgrade from a first generation iRoast I’ve been using for a few years). Just wanted to tell you that your obvious passion for getting the best coffee and roasting information into your customers’ hands has me sold. Keep up the good work. More orders coming your way for what I know are carefully selected coffee beans.

  2. 2 Thompson

    thanks a lot ! -tom

  3. 3 Kevin

    I always look forward to your travelogues and the unique perspectives they offer. You are definitely dedicated to your craft and it shows in each and every great coffee you offer.

    On another note, how the heck does someone cup 3,000+ samples of coffee per week without overdosing on caffeine? I know they must be spitting, but it obviously still enters your bloodstream through absorption, right? How many people are responsible for doing this? Do they at least rotate shifts or something?

    You’re probably going to think I’m crazy, but after 10+ years of home coffee roasting, I’ve just recently started to develop an appreciation of Kenyan coffees. The Kenya AA Auction Lot #526 “Tegu” you offered a while back just blew my mind and made me re-think my biases to certain coffee origins in general…

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