Thursday, February 26, 2009

Campos Cupping Session

I was looking forward to attending a cupping at the Campos roastery all week as I was lucky enough to be Campos’ guest taster for their ‘Bean of the Month’. I must admit however, that I was a bit scared I would not be able to pick up all the right characteristics and be a bad taster. To get my palette up to speed, I have been making plunger coffee every morning, trying 2 new beans a week so I can pick up a wider variety of flavours. It helps that I have a coffee roaster around the corner from work, although not Campos :( , they are in Alexandria, but I pop in a couple of times a week to chat to the boys about the new beans they have in and we always do a few pour overs (similar to a filter coffee) which really lets some of the lighter roasts exhibit their flavours, for example a lot of single origins like the Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Kenya AA, El Salvador or Brazil Impanema.

Cupping involves grinding the beans to a coarse grind, similar to a plunger grade, We then smell the ground coffee to decide on a ‘Dry Aroma’. Water is then boiled and left to cool for a minute or so as boiling water will burn the coffee, so you want it to be between 95OC-91OC. 10g of ground coffee is put into a cup and 200mL of water is poured in and left to brew, during which the coffee floats to the top and forms a crust. After 5 minutes exactly, the ‘crust’ is broken using a soup spoon, dragging the crust to the edge of the cup and then mixing gently. This is when we smell to pick up the ‘Wet Aroma’ of the coffee. The crust is then scraped out of the cup so that a clean cup of coffee is left ready for the tasting.

To taste, we go along, one by one, and using our soup spoon we pick up the coffee and then slurp it into our mouths. It is a similar technique to tasting wine, although not as elegant, as you want to make a loud slurping noise and get as much air into our mouth as possible so that you can really open up the flavours of the coffee and get it around your whole mouth so each area of your taste buds can pick up different things.

I will admit, I did look really silly, and after a while I started spitting the coffee out as we continued to sip each coffee about 3 times and the coffee of the month I think about 10 time, which is a lot of coffee that would leave me buzzing for the rest of the night. However, even with wine, I was never a good spitter, so after a while I gave up and continued to drink it all.

The coffee of the month was the Indian Yelnoor Khan Cauvery. As it was roasted only an hour before the boys would do another cupping the following day to see how the flavours and aromas have developed. These however, are the results of today’s cupping:
Dry Aroma: Quite a strong wheat and barley smell with a underlying sweetness, but not overly sweet, more like a strongly burnt toffee.
Wet Aroma: A much earthier tone comes through, yet with still a hint of the burnt toffee.
Tasting: The coffee has completely transformed from our first smell. It is a coffee that hits you instantly with tar/smoky flavours, almost a pepperiness, which is still earthy and full of body. Although it might sound so, it is not too heavy and has a mid-high acidity making it pleasant to drink. I think the best thing about this coffee is that it leaves a really lovely aftertaste in the mouth. Dark chocolate or cocoa flavours leave a slight dryness on the palette which leaves you wanting to drink more.

Results of cupping the following day: Will (owner of Campos) and the other roasted thought that the Indian had calmed down a lot since the previous day and was a lot smoother. He explained this was because we tried it straight after it had been roasted, which is quite a harsh process, so it was quite volatile and showing off its full potential. After resting for a day, a much centered flavour came through and the boys liked it a lot more. (It will be available to buy as of this week in store).

Once we had finished tasting, I couldn’t help myself from looking around the roastery and having a chat to the head roaster, Ernest. As Campos supply to numerous cafes around town and also stock up their own store with beans, they roast around 3.8 tonnes of coffee a week. This means, over five days, they are constantly roasting from 6am-10pm as the roaster holds 24kg of coffee each batch, and each batch takes between 15-17 minutes to roast, depending of the bean of course. And that is not to mention smaller roasts for some of the single origins where they do not need such a quantity at once. Their aim is to roast only as much as they need so that they are not oversupplied and the coffee is as fresh as it can be. So each time you buy beans, they will be most likely roasted the day before, but they only hold them for five days, and then top up the containers with a new batch of beans.


Standing next to the roaster as the beans were released was the most amazing smell, and after a while, one that is absorbed quite strongly into your clothes......I wasn't complaining. It is a smell I miss since working at their retail store on Missenden Road in King St. If you haven't been I highly recommend it as the vibe is constantly buzzing with the machines going full throttle and the jazz playing in the background. The coffee you will drink, I assure you, will be one of the best cups you will have. It is a place I will go out of my way for, and even make an effort to get there despite the fact they will close 5 minutes after I arrive, as long as I get my double ristretto, I will be happy, and I can assure you it will put me in the best mood for the rest of the day.

...............this is the effect of a coffee from Campos...................get addicted!

Campos Coffee
193 Missenden Road
9690 0294

1 comment:

Marija said...

Great article! I enjoyed reading very much.