Tag Archives: Coffee Cupping

Weekend Picks: March 20-22nd

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New Section of Neuse River Greenway

This weekend looks to be a little cooler than this past Monday and Tuesday, but there are still plenty of ways to get out and enjoy the day. Here are a few quick picks of things to check out the weekend. Happy exploring!

Thursday March 19th

Pharmacy Bottle + Beverage Grand Opening
Downtown Cary has a new craft beer bottle shop! Pharmacy Bottle + Beverage opens Thursday March 19th at noon. It is located downtown Cary at 120 E. Chatham Street next to the Cary Theater.  It features a unique tap room (cool white design and sleek layout) with a retail selection with wine & beer. https://www.facebook.com/pharmbottlebev/

Friday March 20th

Free Coffee Cupping at Counter Culture Coffee
Counter Culture Coffee will be holding their weekly FREE coffee cuppingat the training facility in Durham this Friday at 10am. The cuppings provide a great opportunity to learn more about the different flavors and profiles expressed by different coffee. The tasting is followed by a tour of the roasting facility. I’ve attended a cupping in the past and really enjoyed it. Here is my recap of the experience.

Full Steam Brewery “Fellowship of the IPA”
Starting Friday and lasting and all weekend long Fullsteam will host the “Fellowship of the IPA”, a celebration of rare and creative India Pale Ales. All brewed right here in North Carolina. They’ve been gathering 25 or so kegs and the pours will start at 2 pm on Friday and continue throughout the weekend. You can learn more about the event and see the full lineup of beers here.

Saturday March 21st

Sola PopUp Market
They were rained out last weekend so the PopUp Market was rescheduled for this Saturday 9am-1pm. Enjoy great coffee and local artisans selling their handcrafted wares. Symbology, Oak City Collective, Tierra Sol Studio, Bird & Beau, Lo & Behold, Badkatbeadworks, Hum Right Along, Johnna Elstob, Ella B, Grace Reclaimed, Relay Foods, Jess Sandford Ceramics, Urban Guerrilla 63, Gypsy Jule. https://www.facebook.com/events/940566305974380/

Ella’s Race
Are you looking for a 5K , 10K or 1 mile fun run this month and want to support a great cause in the process? Well lace up your running shoes for Ella’s Race on Saturday March 21, 2015 hosted by Chick-fil-A Capital Crossing and Falls Village in North Raleigh. The race will benefit The Cure Starts Now and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation to help pediatric research, aid, and support efforts for children with brain cancer & tumors.

Pittsboro Food Truck Rodeo
Historic downtown Pittsboro will be hosting several food trucks this Saturday 5-8pm at the Pittsboro Roadhouse. http://pittsbororoadhouse.com/pittsboro-food-truck-rodeos/

Sunday March 22nd

Explore the Neuse Greenway
A new section of the Neuse River Greenway was recently opened near Horseshoe Farm Park connecting the upper Neuse Greenway into one long uninterrupted stretch. It is now possible to travel from Falls Dam in North Raleigh to Clayton on 27.5 miles uninterrupted trail. You’ll encounter the newest section aroun mile 7 (pictured at the top of this post). Exploring the greenway is always a great way to spend a weekend afternoon. http://neuserivertrail.com/

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Weekend Picks! March 7-9th

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Friday March 7th

Coffee Cupping & “Sustainable Spring” Beekeeping Info Session
Counter Culture Coffee will be holding their weekly FREE coffee cupping at the training facility in Durham this Friday at 10am. The cuppings provide a great opportuntiy to learn more about the different flavors and profiles expressed by different coffee. The tasting is followed by a tour of the roastery. As an added bonus Counter Culture is kicking off their “Sustainable Spring” series and will have an iformation session about Beekeeping after the cupping and tour.
https://www.facebook.com/events/503795603064143/

Saturday March 8th

Public House at The Cookery in Durham
Belly Up to The Cookery’s bar for is their second Public House Night this Saturday from 6-11pm! Sympathy for the Deli is roasting a pig and providing delicious dinner, and Iced Cupcakes will be serving sweet treats! The Duke vs. UNC basketball game will be shown on a 15 foot HD big screen. Great beer, wine and cocktails for sale at the bar. FREE ENTRY.
https://www.facebook.com/events/727847107240580/

Sunday March 9th

Durham Food Truck Rodeo w/ PitchBlak Brass Band
The Spring Durham Food Truck Rodeo is this Sunday from 12-4pm. The rodeo will host over 40 Triangle Food Trucks. Local beer will also be available for sale. Musical Performance by PitchBlak Brass Band out of Brooklyn. The weather looks to be beautiful on Sunday and it is sure to be a great time. After the rodeo head down the street to two of my favorite spots: Cocoa Cinnamon for coffee and Fullsteam Brewery for more great beer!
http://durhamcentralpark.org/event/food-truck-rodeo-4/

 

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Coffee Cupping at Counter Culture Coffee in Durham

Counter Culture Coffee Durham Training Center 2

Counter Culture Coffee Durham Training Center

It wasn’t until the very the last week of 2013, but I finally made it to one of the free public coffee cuppings offered every Friday morning at the Counter Culture Coffee training center in Durham. Counter Culture has done a lot to support the Triangle’s coffee community and culture and I’m a big fan of their coffee and the shops that serve it around the Triangle. Attending one of their cuppings has long been on my list of local activities to explore and the experience from my first visit to their training center did not disappoint!

Counter Culture Coffee Durham Coffee Cupping 10

Leading the Coffee Discussion

The weekly cuppings are held at 10am each Friday at the Counter Culture Training Center located off S. Alston Avenue in Durham. Counter Culture has similar training centers in Asheville, Atlanta Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC. These training centers are where they hold classes, educational demonstrations, and barista certification training for coffee professionals. The Durham location is a bit unique in that it is attached to a neighboring building where Counter Culture roasts all of their coffee before it is shipped out to retail locations and coffee shops across the country.

Counter Culture Coffee Durham Training Center

Counter Culture Coffee ~ Durham Training Center

The cupping lasts about an hour and is followed by a quick tour of the coffee roasting facility. On the day I attended they were cupping three wonderful coffees harvested from the African country of Burundi. The three coffees cupped were MPEMBA, Buziraghindwa, and a natural sundried Burizaghindwa. How a coffee tastes is influenced by the growing environment (climate and soil type etc.) in addition to the botanical variety of the coffee how it is is processed. The three coffees we cupped ranged in flavor and aroma from earthy & spicy to very bright & fruity.

To learn more about the different coffees we cupped visit the Counter Culture Coffee online store to read the coffee descriptions and details about the origin and processing of each.

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Coffee Cupping Setup

In general a “coffee cupping” is the practice of observing the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee. Cuppings are a lot of fun because you learn about new coffees and how they are different from one another. These public cupping are particularly engaging since they provide the opportunity to share thoughts with others and discussing with the group what you each noticed and experienced.

There are no wrong answers in cupping, just different perspectives and experiences. Cuppings can help you develop a reference library of flavors and taste sensations that can become a background against which you can examine new coffees. Over time a cupper can begin to associate particular flavors with geographical regions and different botanical varieties of coffee.

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Initiating Brewing With The Hot Water Pour-Over

The cupping procedure follows four primary steps. As you progress through each step you begin to notice how the aroma changes or is enhanced as the coffee transitions from dried ground beans to complete brewed coffee. The  overall goal is to measure aspects of the coffee’s taste, specifically the body, sweetness, acidity, flavor, and aftertaste. The cupping steps include:

  • Sniffing the dry coffee grounds
  • Smelling the coffee after the hot water pour-over
  • The “breaking  of the crust” (breaking through the floating layer of coffee grounds as the coffee brews)
  • Tasting or “slurping” the coffee.
Counter Culture Coffee Durham Coffee Cupping 6

Smelling the Brewed Coffee

During this particular cupping there were about 15 cups of each coffee lined up in stations along the counter. There were roughly 30 or so people there and we all took turns going from station to station smelling the different coffees during each step of the cupping process. After each step one of the coffee buyers at Counter Culture would lead a short discussion with the group about what everyone experienced from each coffee. It was interesting to hear the different flavors and aromas others picked up. By the way, if you are like me and sometimes need a little help describing coffee flavors, check out Counter Culture’s Coffee Taster’s Flavor Wheel.

Counter Culture Coffee Durham Coffee Cupping 5

Preparing To Taste The Coffee

This all lead up to the final step when we finally tasted each coffee. The brewed coffee is first prepped by the Counter Culture staff. Using two spoons, they skillfully removed the floating layer of brewed grounds from each cup. Once this is done we all took turns taking a spoonful of each coffee and slurping it loudy. Slurping loudly is done by sucking the coffee in with such velocity that it is aerated and sprayed across your entire palate. This allows the full flavor profile of the coffee to be expressed and experienced by the taster.

Counter Culture Coffee Durham 3

Touring Counter Culture Coffee

The room was somewhat divided on which coffee was their favorite. My favorite was the fruity natural sundried Burizaghindwa. I enjoyed its brightness and the hints of orange and blackberry I tasted. After the cupping was completed we transitioned into the other side of the building where the group was given a brief tour of the coffee roasting operation. We were lead through the area where they stage their coffees delivered from around the world and even got to see where the coffee is bagged and labels are applied to each bag of coffee by hand.

Counter Culture Coffee Durham 1

Coffee Roaster

The final stop on the tour took us to where the real magic happens. We witnessed the coffee roasters in action! The day of my visit was just two days after the Christmas holiday so things were hopping with two large roasters creating batches of delicious freshly roasted beans. It was interesting to see how all the pieces of the coffee operation fit together to deliver those 12 ounce bags of freshly roasted coffee on the grocery store shelf. The cupping and the behind the scenes look at the roasting process gave me much to ponder the next time I am enjoying a delicious cappuccino in my favorite local coffee shop.

If you would like to learn more about coffee cupping I highly recommend attending one of the free public cuppings held at Counter Culture each Friday. Visit their website below for more information about their coffees and upcoming events.

Counter Culture Coffee – Durham Training Center
4911 S Alston Ave, Durham, NC 27713 (Map)
website: http://counterculturecoffee.com/
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/counterculturecoffee
twitter: @Counter_Culture

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Larry’s Beans of Raleigh ~ My First Coffee Cupping!

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Preparing to educate people about coffee!

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of visiting one of my favorite places in Raleigh, the Larry’s Beans coffee roasting facility! I’ve been to Larry’s Beans to take their cool bean plant tour twice now, but this was my first trip there for an actual “coffee cupping”. In fact, this was my first coffee cupping event ever! If you are new to the world of coffee cupping (like me) I would describe it as kind of like wine tasting, but with coffee. In general “coffee cupping” is the practice of observing the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee.

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Coffee & mingling before the cupping event

When you visit Larry’s Beans, it is always a fun filled experience. The event started off with the group of 40 or so coffee lovers being entertained by musicians playing the accordion and guitar in the beautiful open courtyard. Larry’s also had a nice healthy snack spread that featured plenty of their great coffee and their newly released cold brew coffee for the guests to try as they mingled before the cupping started.

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Head Roaster Brad explains the origins of the beans we will be cupping

After mingling for a bit, the group moved into the roasting facility for a brief  educational presentation kicked off with Larry himself giving a little background about his passion for quality organic fair trade coffee and why he founded the company. From there Larry turned things over to Brad, the head roaster of Larry’s Beans. Brad did an excellent job of explaining the process of coffee cupping and set the stage for the three kinds of coffee we would be cupping that afternoon. The focus of this particular comparative cupping was three different coffees from Ethiopia.

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The cuppers take to their stations!

Brad described the three different farms within the Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union in Ethiopia that were the source of the beans we would be cupping. The coffee we would be trying was harvested from the Schicho, Abela Gekuko, and Bona Cooperatives.  He then highlighted the specific variations in process methods the coffee beans from each farm went through and and  how different processing techniques impact flavor profiles.

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The cupping criteria

A standard coffee cupping procedure involves three steps, sniffing the dry coffee grounds, “breaking the crust” after the hot water pour-over, and finally tasting or “slurping” the coffee. At each table there were three stations with three cups of carefully ground dry coffee from one of the three farms (you use three cups for each bean for consistency). The experts at Larry’s circulated the room and poured the hot water after participants had finished smelling the dried coffee grounds.

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The pros at Larry’s Beans pouring hot water over the coffee grounds

After pouring over the nearly boiling water we allowed the grinds to infuse for around 3-4 minutes. Then came the  “breaking of the crust” which was expertly done by our hosts using spoons and we were instructed to again smell the coffee again as it has changed during the brewing process and will give hints of the kind of things to be looking out for when you do the actual tasting.

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The slurping of the coffee!

Once the crust was broken any coffee grounds left on top of the cup were scooped away. With the coffee infusion now clear of grinds, the slurping  commenced! Essentially you simply bring a spoon of the coffee up to your mouth, and slurp, drawing the coffee to the roof of the mouth allowing it to tickle the tongue and then fall into the back of the mouth. The goal is to measure aspects of the coffee’s taste, specifically the body, sweetness, acidity, flavor, and aftertaste.

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Coffee before “breaking of the crust”

Since coffee beans embody telltale flavors from the region where they were grown, by evaluating coffees in a comparative setting like this a taster can learn to identify  flavor traits of coffees from different origins.  If you do enough cuppings you can even develop a reference library of flavors and taste sensations that can become a background against which you can examine new coffees.  Over time a cupper can begin to associate particular flavors with geographical regions and different botanical varieties of coffee.

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Bloggers engaged in “Coffee Talk”

Although we were not trying to identify the origins since we already knew that information, ultimately the folks at my cupping table were able to identify the different flavor profiles and zero in on their favorite coffee of the three we tried. I can’t recall the exact name now, but my favorite was the coffee that exhibited hints of blueberry.

The folks at Larry’s Beans were great hosts and I recommend you try to attend a future event at their facility.  I had a lot of fun attending this coffee cupping, especially since a few of my fellow foodie blogger friends where there to enjoy the experience with me. Special thanks to Kim @TriLocalista, Becca @theGourmez, and Channa @RaleighWhatsUp for attending the event with me. Make sure you check out their awesome blogs too to keep up on the Triangle foodie scene!

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Musicians in the courtyard!

To view more pictures from my visit to Larry’s beans check out my flickr photo album of the coffee cupping event. To read more about Larry’s Beans you see my previous post of the facility tour or visit their website and facebook page.

About Larry’s Beans

Larry’s Beans is happily committed to blending and roasting innovative uniquely delicious coffees — and making the world a better place. 100% of their coffee is Fair Trade, Shade Grown, and Organic, all slow-roasted to bring out every note of indigenous flavor. Their green-o-vated facilities use passive solar construction, active solar systems, radiant floors, zoned heating, composting, and rainwater harvesting to minimize our impact on this awesome planet. They offer 15 Creative Blends and 15 Single-Origin Blends, along with limited-roast favorites like Rockin’ Holiday Blend and Woodstock Blend.

Larry’s Beans 
1507 Gavin Street
Raleigh, NC 27608
Website: http://www.larrysbeans.com/
Twitter: @LarrysBeans

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Larry’s Beans Coffee Cupping Event In Raleigh – November 10th 1-3pm

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Photo courtesy of Larry’s Beans

Larry’s Beans is holding a coffee cupping event at their bean roasting facility in Raleigh on November 10th from 1-pm. The Comparative Cupping & Coffee workshop will be lead by Brad Brandhorst, Chief Roaster at Larry’s Beans. Brad will lead participants through an exploration of how flavor is affected by how the farmers process their coffee beans. The coffee will all be from Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union in Ethiopia. The cupping event, which will take place at the Larry’s Beans roasting facility at 1507 Gavin St., Raleigh, costs $5. Tickets are available at larrysbeans.eventbrite.com.

cupping lab

Photo courtesy of Larry’s Beans

In addition to coffee cupping the event will feature samples of Larry’s Beans Cold Brew Iced Coffee – cold-steeped over 24 hours from coffee they roast & blend specifically for this process. This is a new offering from Larry’s Beans.

Bonus! Music & Beer
Since coffee is part of life, Larry’s Beans will also provide music & some snacks topped off with local beer from Fullsteam Brewery in Durham!

Details & Registration:
Where: Larry’s Beans, 1507 Gavin Street, Raleigh, NC
When: Saturday November 10, 2012. Gates open at 1pm, Cupping Starts at 1:30

To register for the event visit LarrysBeans.eventbrite.com

washed ethiopia

Photo courtesy of Larry’s Beans

About Larry’s Beans

Larry’s Beans is happily committed to blending and roasting innovative uniquely delicious coffees — and making the world a better place. 100% of our coffee is Fair Trade, Shade Grown, and Organic, all slow-roasted to bring out every note of indigenous flavor. Their green-o-vated facilities use passive solar construction, active solar systems, radiant floors, zoned heating, composting, and rainwater harvesting to minimize our impact on this awesome planet. (You can view pictures from my tour of their facility here). Larry’s Beans offers 15 Creative Blends and 15 Single-Origin Blends, along with limited-roast favorites like Rockin’ Holiday Blend and Woodstock Blend. For more information visit http://www.larrysbeans.com/.

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