Grecia Trip – Wycombe for Fairtrade – Late Afternoon Monday 16 May 2022

Day 4. CoopeVictoria – Coffee Quality Testing (cupping) with Mario Chief “Q” Grader. Mon 16th May 2022.  Late afternoon. 4.00 pm – 5.00 pm.

The tasting technique is called “coffee cupping” or “cup tasting”. This is how coffee is tasted and tested by producers for buyers around the world to check the quality of a batch of coffee before being exported or sold. In cupping, coffees are scored for aspects such as cleanness, sweetness, acidity, mouthfeel, and aftertaste.

Caption: Migrant coffee pickers accommodation during harvest time.

According to the cupping protocol, hot water is poured directly onto freshly roasted ground beans in the cup and allowed to steep for 3–5 minutes. The infusion is then stirred, and the foamy head removed. The coffee will need to cool before tasting to avoid burning your tongue and to allow the flavours to emerge. Two spoons are used, one going in to the cup and the other into the mouth. Mario, the chief “Quality Grader” at CoopeVictoria, tests every batch of coffee before it is exported to the supplier or wholesaler. He grades many cups of coffee during a workday, so spitting out is a must.

Caption: The coffee quality unit is located in the building where all the CoopeVictoria whole bean and ground coffees are bagged-up in sterile and temperature-controlled conditions.

Caption: Mario, a certified Quality Grader, Marie Angela, and Sheena ready to begin the cupping process.

Marie Angela, Sheena, and Mike were introduced to the protocol that involves smelling the beans or ground coffee for their essence before any hot water is added, then hot water is added and allowed to stand for 4 minutes, smelling the aromas of the hot coffee. The final stage of the process is “slurping” each cup of coffee from a spoon to allow the whole mouth to absorb the taste and flavour. The cupping “scores” the essences, aromas, and flavours present in the coffee, and are then compared to a chart and a score awarded. If the score falls below a certain grade, then the whole batch is dumped. The complex chart indicates the many varieties and flavours of fruit , flowers, and chocolate.

Caption: The Golden Cup plaque for 1st place in the Best Fairtrade Coffee in Costa RIca Competition 2021. CoopeVictoria have won the award three years running.

Just like with wine, one can find endless flavour notes to coffee as each harvest is different. Flavour is directly affected by weather and altitude, but the most important roles are played by the soil and the cultivar. 

Caption: 7 of the 8 CoopeVictoria coffee varieties about to be tested for quality. The roaster is just behind Marie and Mario with the extractor fan visible.

Caption: Mario pouring hot water into the 4 coffee bowls relating to the 8 varieties of coffee. Essence, aroma, taste, and sweetness are being tested and scored.

Caption: Two of the 8 CoopeVictoria cofee varieties available in the CoopeVictoria on site shop.

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