I went to my first cupping at Press Coffee Roasters in Phoenix, AZ. I was nervous to not embarrass myself, and wanted to get a better feel of what I was getting into. So to prepare, I watched a video about cupping by the great people at Cafe Imports. That made me more nervous. I brought my own clipboard and pen, but had no idea what flavors I would write down if I was asked. I was prepared for total silence so as to not influence the other cuppers, but silence is pretty tough for me. Lastly, I was prepared to be the only one actually drinking the coffee. The portion of the Cafe Imports video that had everybody spitting coffee out into a spittoon on the floor grossed me out. Using a spoon and rinsing it in hot water with other people’s spoons doesn’t bug me at all, but spitting out perfectly good coffee? Weird.
In order to make time in my work schedule to attend the cupping, I worked extra hours all week so that I could afford an ‘extended lunch break’ and still be back in time to tie up all the loose ends on Friday afternoon. Press Coffee’s roasting location is 100 miles, one way, from where I live. It took my just over an hour and a half to get there. Traffic in Phoenix during the late morning isn’t too bad, and it was mostly freeway driving at 75 mph.
What is cupping? Before I get into my experience, I’d like to tell you what cupping is. It’s also known as coffee tasting, and you observe the last and aroma of various coffees in quick succession. There’s usually a table set up with multiple small cups of coffee set all around it. At Press, there were two cups for each coffee, and some coffees were available in multiple roasts. They had the roast profiles, names of the coffees, and regions they were from right there with the coffees, so it wasn’t totally blind. I was very thankful for that. Coffee professionals will grade the different coffees, test them, and prepare them for market.
What did you do? I did pretty much the same thing, but of course I was there to learn about the process and the coffees. I wasn’t there to help determine which coffee goes to market. So I showed up and jumped right in. Alex, the General Manager running it and Alex, the roaster, were fantastic teachers. You start with a spoon and a small amount of coffee. You inhale the coffee very quickly, so that the coffee goes airborne and aerate your palate with the coffee. It’s a totally different and awesome coffee experience. The flavors are very pronounced with this method. And would you know, nobody spat the coffee out. I was so relieved and it was such an awesome experience, words really fail me.
How did you like it? Not only did we taste a bunch of coffees, but Alex taught me more about where the coffees come from, why they’re named the way they are, and then gave me a cup of one of the coffees he batch brewed. Cupping coffees at Press was the second time I experienced the strong ‘berries to the face’ flavor. Right away, while tasting a naturally produced Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Konga, I was like- I gotta buy some of this. Well, they gave me some. Just incredible. Then, they showed me around the warehouse, showed me the roasters, let me see and smell their green beans, their roasters ,and let me watch a little bit of their cold brew process. It was the most awesome tour I’ve ever had the privilege to be a part of.
There are no secrets in specialty coffee. Press Coffee held nothing back from me, a total stranger. What sets them apart, and why they will continue to grow and WIN in business is that they care! See, you could duplicate all their roasts on all the same roasters, and duplicate their packaging and cold brews, but you could never care more about people than Press Coffee does. They care about coffee, oh yes, but they care about people so much more that they built an advocate for their brand that day. I loved my time there, and can’t hardly wait to go back.
I had an incredible time, learned so much about coffee that I was humbled to my core, and made some great new friends. If you’re in Arizona, you owe it to yourself to come cup with Alex and Will at Press Coffee Roasters. If you’re out of state, you can still try some of their fantastic coffee by ordering here. You should also find a roaster close to you that offers cuppings and make the time to go. It’s so worth it.