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Notes from the Cupping Lab

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February 2014, Portland, OR
Jim Kelso: Head of Quality Control

Recently, while pushing a shopping cart down the aisles of the fruit and vegetable section of one of our local castles of abundance, buzzed from a long day of cupping and with no coherent plan for that evening’s meal, I had a sudden (caffeine-inspired, I’m sure) inspiration: The wide spectrum of tasting notes from the new coffee release cuppings could serve as a blueprint for the meal I was trying, at the last minute, to pull together. Almost every meal at our house involves beer and chocolate to some extent. The beer is usually for the chef and the chocolate is our go-to for an easy dessert. The Peru Cecovasa arrival sample that Steve, Craig and I had tasted earlier, with its cocoa, toasted white nut and citrus zest reminded me to pick up a porter ale sixer and to restock our dessert supplies.

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We are also about to release Sulawesi Toarco Flats to compliment the Toarco Peaberry already on the menu. Its sweet and savory combination of navel orange, toasted hazelnut, roasted yam and marshmallow was a recipe in itself for the ideal side dish. And just now, when Steve opened the jute bag for the first test roast, the smell of fresh alfalfa suffused half the building. The Ecuador Cariamanga, also slated for release within days, supplied me with the framework for an accompanying white wine, with its clean white grape acidity, light honey and golden raisin-like sweetness.

A couple pre-ship coffees also served as signposts for my journey down the aisles. The utterly unique cups of Colombia Esperanza served as a framework for a salad dish, as it consistently spanned the most dynamic ranges possible from a viscous, Port-wine like bottom end that had the weight and sensation of new olive oil, to sparkling berry, cranberry and cherry tomato in its upper registers. And finally, the pre-ship sample of Ethiopia Chelbessa, with its intensely floral aromatics and perfumed lime served as a reminder to grab flowers for the table as well.

As for the main dish? I just roasted a chicken.

Look for these new coffee arrivals to hit the shelves on March 11.

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