When it comes to the crafting a cup of coffee, perfection doesn’t happen by accident. It’s achieved with quality beans, an inventive roasting method, and a meticulous brewing practice. Equally important is the practice of observing the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee, also known as coffee cupping. We believe in the integrity of our coffee, and setting the gold standard for cold-brew coffee beverages, and cupping ensures that that won’t be changing anytime soon.
Since the cupping process is such a vital part of maintaining a consistent flavor profile in our coffees, we recognized the importance in educating our audience on the various coffee tasting notes that attribute to the unique taste in various cups of coffee.
Why the Cupping?
Cupping allows coffee cuppers (better known as “Q Graders”) to identify both the aroma and taste of a batch of coffee. More importantly, it’s a method used to assess the quality of the coffee- think of it similar to wine tasting.
Cupping is a critical part of our process at Chameleon, because we use a specific blend of beans from all over the world! The cupping process allows us to maintain consistency in our flavor. To ensure flavor consistency and our top-notch quality, our Master Coffee Craftsman, R.C. Beall, cups each time beans arrive at our roasting facility.
The process of cupping is laid out into five steps:
- First, smell the coffee. Soak in the smell and let your senses be your guide. Document any and every scent you detect. Do this for each bowl of coffee.
- Next, add boiled water to each bowl of coffee grounds.
- Smell each coffee sample now that water has been added. Take notes on any differences you may encounter.
- Take a spoon and push the floating coffee grounds at the surface to the side of the bowl and smell again. Take notes.
- Finally, it’s time to taste! Take a spoonful of brewed coffee, avoiding the coffee grounds as best you can, and take a sip. Document the flavor(s) you taste.
Once these steps are repeated for each of the coffees, compare notes with other participants. Assess the flavor, aroma, body, aftertaste, complexity, and acidity with other Q Graders to evaluate and review each roast.
The aroma of a coffee is affected by both its acidity and flavor. The Specialty Coffee Association of America breaks down aroma into three generic categories, Enzymatic, Sugar Browning, and Dry Distillation. Though these can eventually be broken down into very specific scents, each of the three categories breaks down into three main categories of smells.
Sugar Browning Aromas
Dry Distillation Aromas
The real fun begins when we dive into the taste of various coffees. The spectrum of tastes is an extensive one, and varies based on a number of factors, including coffee region. Chameleon sources its beans from all over the world to match a specific flavor profile. Most of our beans come from Central/South America, specifically Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Brazil. Although there isn’t a concrete correlation between coffee region and tasting notes, different countries’ beans may share a few general characteristics, for example, Brazilian coffee can be described as creamy bodied with mostly milk chocolate, cherry, and sassafras, while Costa Rican coffee yields powerful and sweet citrus and nut flavors that are heavier bodied than most Central American coffees.
Coffee taste is perceived mostly on the tongue by the taste buds, and can be broken down into five categories: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and savory.
Climate also plays a major role in the development of the coffee plant and the flavors it produces. Aside from soil type, plants are also potentially affected by their access to water, whether they grow in sunlight or shat, and the flora and fauna around them. A prime example of this is Geisha coffee, an heirloom variety originally from Ethiopia that was planted in Central America in the 1960s. It became incredibly popular and praised on its taste because of it’s unique floral notes. The tropical, humid climate of Panama allowed the plant to thrive, and is what some account for it’s distinctive, unmatched taste.
Coffee is one of the most chemically complex food we ingest, made up of 2 to 3 times as many flavor compounds as wine. Because of this, each cup of coffee consists of multiple tasting notes that we associate the different flavors with the foods they remind us of.
What’s great about our ready-to-drink cold-brew coffees, is that they each possess a unique mix of flavor notes and boldness:
Black: Characterized by notes of cocoa & toffee.
Mocha: Lightly sweetened cocoa brings out the chocolate notes in our original bean blend.
Vanilla: A hint of sweetened vanilla rounds this bright brew.
Mexican: Cinnamon, almond and lightly sweet vanilla enhance this naturally spicy bean blend.
Chicory: For a lightly sweetened flavor that’s a little brighter, smoother and spicier.
Espresso: Rich, bold cold-brew that packs a smooth, delicious punch!
One roast doesn’t fit all. Our dedication to maximizing freshness and flavor is the reason we tailor-roast all our beans on-site, and in turn, we maintain consistency to serve up a cold-brew you’ll love every time.