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National Geographic: Curious Traveler

The Idiot’s Guide to Drinking Coffee in Seattle

I wandered some more, and ran into a kind soul who said I had to check out Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

Brynn and Will greeted me there.

“We specialize in single-cup Chemexes,” Brynn said when I asked about their
signature drink.

I had no clue what that meant.

“Do you have cappuccinos?” I asked.

“Yep, we make ‘em with our Hair Bender blend. The first Stumptown was in a converted hair salon in Portland, hence the name,” Brynn said.

“We actually have a cupping at 3:00 if you want to check that out,” Will offered as I enjoyed my drink, my hand shaking with each lift of the cup.

A cupping? I felt like such a neophyte.

Marcy would be our fearless leader for what I learned was a time-honored tradition.

“We do cuppings here to develop our palates as baristas, so we can recognize flavor profiles and insure consistency,” she began. “That’s why there are three cups of each of the five coffees we will be sampling.”

Then Marcy explained the steps:
1. Smell each coffee in its dry state
2. Add boiling water and smell in wet state
3.Get spoon and break “crust,” scoop escaping aroma towards you*
4. Take a spoonful from each cup and sip to compare flavors*
5. Spit out if so desired

(* Do not cross-contaminate spoons. Use new spoons for each cup.)

I followed her directions with the fervor of a religious devotee as we compared the five roasts against themselves and with each other.

When we finished I felt one step closer to unlocking the magic of the bean, but was convinced that the mystical process would take longer than a day.

I also felt light-headed. I’d had my coffee fix for the year.

Read full article here at http://intelligenttravel.nationalgeographic.com