Do you want to see the coffee card?
The barista is behind the coffee bar just like a DJ behind a turntable. The moment before the start of a fresh set. A moment of sacred silence. Fans who hold their breath and wait for the sign of the maestro that enters the show. Here you won’t find any record covers, sliders or headphones. Instead, there are brown bags, scales and bowls with heaps of freshly ground coffee. And on the barista’s command, hands don’t go into the air but noses dip into dishes with beans.
The barista pours the water over the coffee. The right temperature (cooled just below the boiling point), the right number of grams. Then the wait until a crust has formed on the coffee. If you awkwardly call this crust a ‘foam layer’ you will immediately be exposed as a complete coffee novice. And just as someone always has to be the first to dare to walk onto the dance floor, there is someone here to steps out of the group with silent agreement to break the crust. You do this by scooping the spoon away from yourself in one confident movement. As a beginner you don’t dare do this. Imagine pushing a wave of coffee over the edge while everyone watches. A coffee cupping, more commonly known as a coffee tasting, seems like a ceremony where outsiders will commit many blunders.
We’re at Koffie Leute in Utrecht, where barista Oliver presents the latest coffees of the month. On the table are coffees from Colombia, Rwanda and Ethiopia. Now the tasting begins. The experienced participants do that each with their own unique slurp. Slurping is a must, spitting the coffee out afterwards is optional. Then the judging begins. Questions center around themes such as “Is it fat, floral, warm, too hot, acidic?” A single bitter berry can spoil the whole bag. Then it’s also a matter of personal taste. As with wine, you can develop your own personal preferences.
If you awkwardly call this crust a ‘foam layer’ you will immediately be exposed as a complete coffee novice.
Wouldn’t it be nice if coffee cupping became as ordinary as wine tasting? That during a backpacking trip through Colombia or Vietnam you could taste coffee at the farmers’ homes. It could become be an activity for bachelor parties and department outings. The coffee farmer deserves the same reputation as a winegrowers, say many of the micro-burners and progressive coffee brands that we have recently talked about. Less anonymous, more connection to the consumer. Imagine if, in a grand café or restaurant, you could choose from a coffee menu as extensive as a wine menu.
There will always be a difference. The physical distance of coffee farmers. As Joost Leopold of the Koffieschool explained to us: the French winegrowers can drive their tractors to Paris, and empty their wine bottles onto the Champs-Élysées to protest low prices. Coffee farmers live too far away from the big coffee multinationals to throw coffee on the sidewalk. That would really leave an impression on consumers.
Another blog about coffee? Yes, another blog about coffee! Campaign manager Lonneke is currently not talking about anything else, because our coffee campaign is running full speed ahead! For more information and to participate: check out wakecupcall.nl.