With more and more coffee roasters popping up in the area how do you know which one to jump on board with? We recommend starting with a relatively new roaster in town, Wander Coffee. Wander Coffee has been around since November of 2016 and has quickly made its way to the top of our list. Owner and roaster Kyle is truly a master of his craft. Originally from Laramie, Wyoming Kyle honed his talents in Indianapolis and soon found his way back West and opened his roaster here in lovely Fort Collins. He really focuses on bringing in a very high quality product while also keeping the waste produced to an absolute minimum. We stopped by his facility and joined him for a fun experience most outside of the coffee world don’t know about, Cupping.
Coffee Cupping or rather coffee tasting is the process of testing the taste and aroma of brewed coffee. Many roasters do this in order to ensure a good finished product that is consistent down to every sweet delicious bean. First Kyle measured out the same amount of coffee into 3 separate cups for each variety of coffee. We had Bali, Guatemala and Costa Rica. Some roasters and professional tasters will do 5 cups but we did 3 for this little experiment. Setting each set of 3 out in a row we then went along and smelled each cup to get a sense of what the coffee smells like in its dried state all the while trying to find imperfections among the grind. Next Kyle poured hot water over each cup and we let it sit for a few minutes. After letting the ground coffee float about in its steamy bath we then took a spoon and pushed the grounds while again taking in the tantalizing aromas of each cup. The wet aroma aroused many more nuances hiding among the beans and surprised us as we had very differing opinions on which we liked best. After scooping the tiny islands off the top of each cup the actual tasting began. While most think you might just pick up a cup and take a gulp, most would be wrong. There is a certain technique and process to tasting coffee properly. You take your spoon and scoop up a small amount of brew and bring it up to your lips and slurp it off the spoon, and when I say slurp I mean slurrrrp. Kyle informed us that the louder and more obnoxious the slurp the better. In some coffee circles the loudest slurper is a sign of a true coffee cupper. While tasting you are looking for things like acidity, bitterness, sweetness, saltiness and sourness as well as noting the mouth feel you get from each sip. I personally like my cup of coffee to have a good full mouthfeel rather than a thin body. After going through the entire line up you then do it all over again after the coffee has cooled a few degrees as various coffees will have a distinctly different taste. We aren’t professional tasters so we had some trouble picking out the various tasting notes but like any skill it takes time and practice. Personally all of them tasted quite nice to me.
I found that tasting coffee has many similarities to how wine is tasted. You are looking for characteristics in the beans from different regions much like you would with grapes from different regions around the world. The varying aromas from woody to earthy to floral to nutty among others are all characteristics you may find in different wines as well as coffees. We learned a lot about the intricacies of coffee roasting and tasting from Kyle and now have an even more profound respect for these coffee creators, bean barons and roasting raconteurs. The coffee world is a vast and exciting landscape so come Wander with us as we continue our travels.