Thursday, May 17, 2012

Decaf Ethiopian on the Cupping Table

Cupping class participants.
May 11, 2012 - Day 2 of the Michigan Coffee Conference
On Day 2 of the Michigan Coffee Conference I assisted the instructors of the cupping class, Allen Leibowitz, Zingerman's Coffee, and Sally Rivera, Cafe Imports. They had lined up 7 fine coffees for the the classes that day. We labeled each with the origin: 2 Colombian, 1 Nicaragua, 1 Sumatra, 1 Ethiopia, 1 Kenya and 1 Brazil. But there was still an element of blind cupping -- "there are 2 surprises on the table" they hinted.

Turns out the Ethiopia was a decaf and one of the Colombians was a $24/lb (green) geisha grown in Colombia. Unfortunately, the decaf Ethiopia distinguished itself in the cup has "going flat" very quickly, disappointing after it's bright fragrance and initially satisfying flavor of nuts and berries. The geisha went off the charts in the other direction. It was off the charts in juicy berries and apples, mixed with chocolate and nutty toast with a bold, rich body and finish. All in all the coffees were a great way to teach cuppers about the unique qualities of different origins and at the same time, see how cupping really highlights the best and worst of any coffee.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Michigan Coffee Conference in Ann Arbor

May 10 and 11, 2012

Cupping lab instructors: Allen Leibowitz and Sally Rivera
"Altogether it was an amazing opportunity for education and networking," said Andy Rottier, of Rowster Coffee in Grand Rapids, who was one of the attendees at the 2nd Michigan Coffee Conference in Ann Arbor, MI. The conference was organized by Coffee Express of Plymouth, MI, and a host of other sponsors. Over 60 professionals gathered from around the state for training, certifications, presentations and a whole lot of fun! It all took place at Pierpont Commons on the University of Michigan campus with attendees registering from all around the state. The day and a half event started on a Thursday afternoon with a sequence of lectures on topics such as marketing tips from Whole Foods Marketing Manager, Bridget Isaia, Chicago, the impact Fair Trade has on the economy and livelihood of coffee growers, presented by Chisara Ehiemere, to insights on the finest teas from Howard Davis, Harney and Sons Teas, New York. 

The group then gathered for a catered dinner in the Duderstadt Center with music from a live jazz band, and then everyone moved to the 3rd annual Motown Throwdown, sponsored by DaVinci (Kerry). Each contestant had to create a signature drink including one of DaVinci's syrups.  

The all day program Friday, May 11th, included cupping and espresso classes, along with drip brewing presentations. Cupping instructors were Sally Rivera, Sales Manager at Cafe Imports and Allen Leibowitz, partner at Zingerman's Coffee Company (who also serves on the SCAA's Instructional Development Committee and is on the executive board of the Roasters Guild). Trevor Corlett, Madcap Coffee, ran the espresso and latte art workshops. He also presided over a BGA certification exam.  Trevor sits on the board of the Barista Guild.  Jim Saborio, Comet Coffee, weighed in on what influences hand-poured drip, and Dean Anderson of Curtis explained what goes into auto-drip equipment.