coffee cupping at Volcafe in CaliforniaI start every morning with a non-fat, decaf, sugar-free vanilla cappuccino. Peter simply calls it the “Why Bother”. But, it is my not-so-guilty pleasure and I have never claimed to be a coffee connoisseur. As long as my foamy capp isn’t watery, I’m good Which makes it ironic that I will be attending a coffee cupping. Now it would be an entirely different story if you gave me a glass of Zinfandel or a piece of Tiramisu, but we are talking coffee here.

When we were invited to a coffee cupping (tasting) at Volcafe by Mark Inman, a master in the coffee industry, I was excited to be learning what was considered a good cup o’ Joe.

He has traveled all over the world importing the finest beans, has tasted thousands of varieties and, frankly, just knows what the heck he is talking about. My only question was, “should I mention that I don’t drink caffeine”?

When we arrived the glasses were all lined up in a row, ready for the coffee cupping (tasting), with the green and roasted beans directly behind. There were four tasting glasses per varietal, about 48 all together. The single glasses at the top are to hold the cupping spoons.
coffee cupping at Volcafe in Californiacoffee cupping at Volcafe in California

I am ready for my coffee. Is there any decaf in the bunch? Nope.
Annette White at a Coffee Cupping

Two tablespoons of coffee are freshly ground into each glass.
coffee cupping at Volcafe in CaliforniaVolcafe imported coffee beans

Mark adds hot water to each glass and we wait four minutes for the coffee to brew.
Mark Pouring the water for the coffee cuppingSeeping Stage of Coffee Cupping

Peter is breaking the crust of the coffee using a spoon. He is also smelling the aroma as is is broken. In the second photo all but one of the coffees crust has been broken.
Breaking the Crust at the Coffee Cuppingcoffee cupping at Volcafe in California

The coffee masters remove the foam from the glasses. For tasting the coffee you get a spoonful from each glass and slurp the coffee strongly…and loudly. This is meant to aspirate it over the entire tongue.
removing the foam from the coffeecoffee cupping tasting

We spent about a half hour tasting at the coffee cupping, trying to differentiate between what was the good, the bad and the ugly.

The professionals seemed to be on the same page with their choices, using terminology that was foreign to me. Whereas, I was taking great pleasure in tasting everything that they thought was ‘the ugly’. You are all aware that I love weird food, apparantly bizarre drinks too.

What and where is your favorite cup of coffee? Have you ever been to a coffee cupping?