Kaffee-Alchemie in Nicaragua, Day 3:

Posted by john 1 Comment

Day 3:

The International Jury is ready for the first three sessions of cupping the coffees entered for Cup of Excellence : Nicaragua 2011.   60 different ‘lots’ or harvests of coffee (out of a total of more than 300) have passed through the National Jury the last weeks; now it is our duty to filter them once more  😀

Meeting the other members of the Jury is something I really look forward to when I am invited to CoE:  enthusiasts from all parts of the World of Coffee come together to work! As George Howell, co-founder of Cup of Excellence, and its first Head Judge puts it:

The Cup of Excellence® competition cycle was conceived with the purpose of finding masterpiece lots of coffee from hundreds of entries. This requires a dedication to key details and an unrelenting repetition in the cupping search process that has become the unique signature of the Cup of Excellence experience. Three overlapping juries inspect and cup samples in an ever narrowing field of better and better coffee until the last day- with a mere handful of exemplary coffees- is experienced to the elation of every judge who participates. It is not a matter of reaching casual consensus; it is a matter of reaching unanimity of vision on that last morning thanks to the very hard work and ironclad integrity of the process. We all become students again and share in the rejuvenation of the true discovery of quality”.

We have lots to talk about, and lots to learn from each other. Many of the Judges are also present at other coffee venues through the year, like the Barista Championships (this week being arranged both in Austria and Germany).

Today we had three cupping sessions: 10 coffees in each. On each cupping table there are four Judges, and there are four cups of each coffee, making it fourty cups to keep an eye on in each session.

Yesterdays calibration gave us an idea on what we were about to taste, but we were all quite excited as we approached the tables! And one by one, we slurped our way through the cups again and again. We are urged to taste the coffees at at least three different temperatures, as the flavor reveals itself in different stages. As we have got four different cups of each of the ten coffees on the table, we give the different coffees a chance to show themselves  🙂

A discussion and evaluation follows every cupping session: and here we get a chance to hear the other Judges opinion. The final scores will not be revealed to us yet.

The coffees today were all heavy and sweet to me; notes of stone fruits, of prunes and mild nuts; a few had a sparkling bright acidity and notes of apples and sugar cane. Lots of good coffees, but although Speciality Coffees, not more than half of them honestly deserving a Cup of ‘Excellence‘  award. The coffees who do not win, will for sure be sold at a good price somewhere in the Speciality Coffee segment. A few times we had inconsistancy in the cups: the same coffee tastes different in the cups on the table. This can mean a lot of things: a bean or two can have a slight defect, or notes of ferment can be there  -or even the roast could have done something with that particular coffee.

Three sessions is tough; we Judges had an hour off in the afternoon before we went off to the amazing Coffee Farm and Hotel ‘Selva Negra’ for relaxing and dinner there; I could write a long story about this environmentally sound and sustainable coffee farm: -a large percentage of the Selva Negra Estate is virgin forest that the owners have condoned off and allowed to stay pure, and here they grow good coffee and invite people to stay in charming cabins.

The 'Selva Negra Estate' is green and lush; the exterior of the estates Chapel is similar to what you would expect to see in The Lord Of The Rings'!

We Judges enjoyed a nice afternoon and evening, relaxing our palates and soaking up the athmosphere of this Oasis. Howler monkeys were  howling in the forest, and the pond was full of birds (and mosquitos!).

Susie Spindler, Executive Director in Cup of Excellence, a woman I greatly admire, is overlooking the 'Selva Negra' pond.

After a nice evening there, we got into our buses and headed back to our tiny hotel for a good nights’ sleep. Wednesday will see Cupping Sessions four, five and six, with the 30 remaning coffees on the table! I just went to my new favourite coffee shop for a morning cappuccino: now I am ready with my cupping spoon!

Liebe Grüsse,   John

One Response to ‘Kaffee-Alchemie in Nicaragua, Day 3:’

  1. thanks a lot for sharing this.

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