Kaffee-Alchemie in Nicaragua, Day 4:

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An excellent coffee must have sweetness and clarity: this shows only ripe, red cherries have been used

Day 4:

On the fourth day here in Matagalpa, we went through the last three cupping sessions in Round # 1, tasting the remaining 30 of the coffees.

Tomorrow, Thursday, we will be told how many of these 60 we have scored the magic 84 or more points: and all of these will then go through Round # 2, and be cupped once moreall of them in three or four sessions on Thursday.

How do we judge the coffees?

The standard methods and parametres of tasting or cupping coffee is based on a long tradition of cupping score sheets, but refined and defined by George H. Howell co-creator of The Cup of Excellence and its first Head Judge. As long as coffee has been traded, the buyers have evaluated the product alongside other coffees. Today, most cuppers world wide are using the Cup of Excellence cupping standards and its score sheet.

12 grams of coffee is being ground  [or ca 8.25g per 150ml], and the cup being used is a ‘normal’ cup size, around 120 ml or so. Before water is being poured into the cup, we sniff the aromas from the dry coffee: we do not score anything from this, but it might give us an idea of what will come through the extraction.

Water at the preferred temperature of 92-93 degrees celsius is then being poured over, in motions, to wet all the grounds.  We let the cup  ‘brew’  for 3 minutes, and then we  ‘break’  the surface with a spoon (the grounds lie on the top like a crust) and we stir gently three times  -yes, all of us follow this procedure-     🙂    to saturate the coffee gently and evenly in all cups on the table, and we stick our noses deep into the cup while doing so.  Next, we have to remove the grounds floating on top, as we are about to slurp this brew with a cupping spoon. The coffee might still be a little hot for the tongue, so we all wait a little  -but then, on we go!

There are families behind every single cup on the table, and the hopes are high concerning all of them. Our job is to judge them all thoroughly, justly and evenly.  The Judges are high on adrenaline too, but we are careful not to  consume cafeïne: we slurp, savour and spit it out. The coffees on these tables are of a high standard, and every now and then I have to drink and swallow to enjoy!  As a coffee addict, these diamonds are rare, and having the privilige to cup all these coffees is something I am really thankful of.

After our three cupping sessions, I dropped by my new favourite ‘Coffee Shop Barista’  for another supreme cappuccino (as if I haven’t had enough coffees today!), just to find a handful of other Judges with the same idea in mind!

The afternoon saw us entering the mini buses, and off we went to the coffee farm  ‘Finca Paraiso’  for a sort of a safari and a meeting with some farmers (several presumably had coffees on the table in the sessions we just had!),  and followed by nicaraguan food and dances.

The walk through the farm was great; I can never get enough of seeing coffee trees! There has been drought for a long time, and the leaves on the trees showes this clearly  (just as on my own coffee plants at home, when I forget to water them).  At this time of the year there are no cherries (picking is over a month or so ago) and no blossom (it will happen after the first rainfall as the rain season starts).  Fun to see the Maragogype variety, which produces huge beans, and interesting to hear the story of how the farm has developed during just over 100 years.  The view from the higher parts of the farm were just awesome!

Afternoon on Finca Paraiso

I went to bed quite early to catch up with the Jet lag and be relaxed for today: in one hour we start cupping!

Liebe Grüsse,   John

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