Vinaccio Tasting Guide

Introduction

You remember the first time that you walked into a coffee shop and smelled the coffee being brewed, the coffee being roasted, and taking that first sip of coffee? Those sensations are probably still with you and you can clearly remember them. This section of our website will inform you as to how we source our beans, roast our beans, brew our coffee, and our cupping protocol. Hopefully you will better learn how Vinaccio creates an experience with every cup of coffee.

More than 25 million people are employed in the coffee farming industry. Most coffee is grown on small farms with less than 100 trees. Currently there are about 60 countries producing coffee. Arabica and Robusta are the two species of coffee. Vinaccio Coffee only purchases a specialty grade Arabica coffee.

We have cultivated relationships with our growers that allows us to source the finest coffees in the world. We routinely import cup of excellence award winning coffees, and currently import coffee from 45 different countries. All of our coffees QC graded and are verified sustainable from field to cup. We have a cupping lab and cup all our coffees weekly to ensure consistent roast profiles and ultimately consistent coffee in your cup.

When we purchase coffee from our growers, we pay them for above the C market price. It is important for us as a company to ensure that our growers and their families are taking care of. Before purchasing coffees, a representative will be sent to the farm and co-op to ensure that sustainable growing is being performed, and that our growers are sticking to the terms of our contracts. In return for the farmers finest coffees, we pay them for above current market prices.

As of 2014, all our coffee has been as ethically sourced. That means that the farmers are paid a fair wage for growing and that the environmental impact is taken into consideration.

First and foremost is that the coffee must be grown and processed in a socially and economically responsible way that takes the environment into consideration. Additionally, we are always looking for ways to improve this program so that it just doesn’t become words put down on paper, that it becomes something that we actually put into practice on a daily, monthly, and yearly basis.

Growing Coffee

there are three primary coffee growing regions, Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Each of these continents create coffees with distinctly different profiles which rural result in a markedly different taste in your cup.

Latin American Coffees

These will contain varying amounts of acidity and a smooth chocolate like sweetness that we feel is very buttery on the pallet. Non-offensive is a word that comes to mind when describing Latin American coffees. Additionally, Latin coffees will have caramel sweetness with a nutty backend. Here in America, Latin American coffees are what we are most used to.

African Coffees

Ethiopia. Ethiopia has such amazing biodiversity that thousands of varietals grow here, thus the flavor spectrum is vastly more than that of most coffee growing regions. Also, Ethiopia is one of the few countries that processes coffee via the “natural” method. In this method the coffee is allowed to dry and the cherry get stripped after the drying process is complete. Most countries will wash a coffee where the fruit is taken off the being within 12 hours of picking. These two processes create radically different flavor profiles. Wet washed coffees are prized for their clarity and vibrant notes. “Naturally” washed or “Dry” processed coffees will have more fruity flavors because the being has had more time to interact with the surrounding cherry. Additionally, the body and complexity is increased.

If you were to describe a naturally processed Ethiopian coffee it would have a syrupy body with sweet berry overtones. When you began to wash that same coffee, lemongrass notes will come through and the coffee tastes much lighter and drier.

Kenya Coffees

Kenyan coffees can be described as very fruity and juicy with a bold sub note. Since these coffees are grown without shade they have a unique flavor profile that borders on savory sweet and the acidity is more pronounced. Some would describe this as tart. Kenyan coffees would definitely be on the favorite list of anyone who likes a bold, flavorful coffee with pronounced berry notes.

Indonesia Coffees

Indonesian coffees also see a variety of climates and processing methods. However, unlike the African coffees which exhibit floral and fruity notes, the Indonesian coffees almost always have deepened dark earthy tones. These coffees handle the heat of roasting very well so are often roasted dark. If you prefer a coffee with a long-lasting finish and deep body, the Indonesian coffees might be your cup. Like Ethiopian coffees, Sumatran coffees are not for everyone. Much like a high-performance car, they are very focused. These coffees are good for the discriminating coffee drinker but not necessarily for a dinner party at Thanksgiving.

Processing

there are three types of processing that we briefly touched on. There is washed processing, semi-washed processing, and natural processing.

Washed processing provides very light and clean coffee. With this process the pulp is mechanically removed. After washing the beans, they are laid out in the sun to dry. Once the beans are partially dried the parchment is removed, the beans are rotated, and put in the sun again to dry. After this process the beans will be sorted and graded.

Semi-washed processing produces a being with much lower acidity a letter body but super smooth. With this method, the pulp is removed by hand and then place in the sun to dry like the washed process, the parchment is then removed, and the beans are set out into the sun for final drying, sorting, and grading.

With the natural processing method, you will get fruity notes bordering on wine tones with very unpredictable flavor. With this method the coffee beans are allowed to dry on the ground with the cherry intact. Because the cherry is left on the bean while drying, the bean will have a much fruitier profile. After the cherry and parchment are removed the being is sorted and graded.

Roasting

Most people think that coffee is roasted by color, or temperature, when in fact a combination of temperature, smell, color, and sound is used to monitor the roasting process. When novice roasters use color to determine the level of roast, this will almost always result in a very inconsistent roast profile.

Coffee has two temperature thresholds called “cracks” that we will listen for. At approximately 196°C the coffee will begin to emit a cracking sound, this is called the “first crack.” At this point, the coffee would be a light roast and right around a 20 to 25% moisture loss has occurred in the bean. At approximately 225°C, the second crack begins as the structure of the coffee bean begins to destabilize. Roasting much past this point will make the sugars carbonized instead of caramelizing and the coffee will take on a charcoal flavor. At Vinaccio, we rarely go much past this point.

Brewing

Amount of coffee: Use one tablespoon of ground coffee for every 3 oz. of water. The amount of coffee can be adjusted to your taste, or to the machine manufacturer’s recommendations.

Coffee Grind: Consistency is super important when it comes to grinding coffee beans. Certain grinds work best with specific brewing methods to give you the best cup of coffee.

·         Coarse: Percolators, French Press

·         Medium: Flat-Bottomed drip coffee makers

·         Fine: Conical drip coffee makers or espresso

Water:

Ideally, your water temperature should be between 195 and 205 degrees Fahrenheit for your coffee. The water to be used must be right or the coffee will be wrong. The infusion you drink is mostly water.

Freshness: always purchase the freshest coffee you can. Additionally, look for packaging that is geared to keep your coffee fresh. One-way degassing valves and high barrier film is a good start. Any quality coffee roaster will utilize these.

 

Buy freshly roasted coffee or coffee that has been packaged for optimal freshness after roasting. Valve-sealed bags typically preserve freshness better than other types of packaging. Coffee beans release carbon dioxide for up to a week after roasting. Newly roasted coffee beans can be packaged in valve-sealed bags without aging, immediately after roasting. The one-way valve allows carbon dioxide to escape but does not let oxygen in.

Always buy coffee in an amount that you expect you’ll drink within its “freshness window.” If you’re buying whole bean coffee, buy only the amount you expect to use within a month. Then grind only as many beans as you need, just before your brew your coffee. If you’re buying ground coffee, purchase enough for a week or two at most.

How to store coffee to keep it fresh? The key is to keep the coffee — whether whole beans or ground — away from the four agents of deterioration: excessive air, moisture, heat, and light.

Keep the air out

Once you’ve opened a package of coffee, don’t leave it in the package. Instead, store it in an air-tight container. Minimize air space in the container as much as possible.

Avoid moisture

Coffee should be stored in a dry location. Excessive moisture will accelerate the deterioration process. Coffee that has been exposed to too much moisture may develop a sour or “off” taste and aroma.

For this reason, it’s not a good idea to store coffee in the freezer or refrigerator. Condensation may develop when the door is opened and closed. You may not encounter a moisture problem if you store small quantities of coffee in the freezer in air-tight containers. But freezer storage doesn’t extend the shelf life. And once you remove coffee from the freezer, don’t put it back. A freezing-thawing cycle is guaranteed to introduce moisture.

Keep your coffee away from heat until you brew it

Although you don’t want to store your coffee in the freezer or refrigerator, you do want to keep it cool. Too much heat will also accelerate the breakdown of the coffee’s flavor.

If you store coffee in a kitchen cabinet or on the kitchen countertop, be sure it’s not near the stove or the oven. Likewise, avoid sunny locations such as shelves near a window.

The time to add the heat is when you brew the coffee — not before!

Even light roasts prefer the dark

Coffee beans look beautiful in a glass canister. Displaying several different roasts in different shades of color is especially appealing.

Unfortunately, light is also an enemy of fresh coffee. So glass containers are not a good coffee storage option, unless you keep the canisters out of sight in a pantry cabinet or in another space away from the light.

Opaque containers are a much better solution. If you store your coffee in an opaque canister, you can keep it handy on a countertop or in another convenient place without worrying about deterioration from light.

To get the best possible protection against the four enemies of fresh coffee — air, moisture, heat, and light —  try one of the specially designed coffee canisters or “coffee vaults” with an air-tight seal. They keep out air, moisture, and light. If you put them in a place that’s not too close to heat, you’ve got everything covered.

Knowing how to store coffee to keep it fresh is not rocket science. But buying the right amount of coffee and storing it correctly will go a long way towards giving you a great tasting cup of coffee.

Cupping

this section is meant to be used as a basic introduction to cupping. Cupping can be carried out in various ways and different roasters will use different protocols to do so. The main purpose of this article is to introduce you to cupping and to why we do it, how we do it and the methods and terminology involved.

In the coffee roasting industry, cupping is something that is done behind closed doors, almost a black art, or at least that’s what roasters will lead you to believe. In reality, cupping is pretty simple, and novices can do this. One thing you have to understand is that each of our palates are different, and that each of us will pick up different notes and nuances and coffees. There really is no right or wrong answers when cupping.

What is cupping? Cupping is one way of differentiating one coffee from another and explaining its inherent characteristics in a logical and objective manner.

It is very important to achieve the same methodology whenever your cupping. This is to ensure that different beans are judged fairly and the same protocol must be used to make sure that subjective influences are left out.

Why cup? The basic reason we cup is to understand how a certain coffee will taste and a lot of people do not realize that coffees will taste differently even within the same coffee growing region. Cupping well allows you to feast these inherent differences and catalog them. Additionally, when creating plans, fees, and cupping well allow you to understand how certain flavor characteristics meld well with others.

How to cup? This is where the arguments begin. There are numerous ways to cup coffee, and different roasters and importers will give varying ways to do so. I assure you that each and every one of them is correct in their own way. The main point in cupping is to make sure that you always cup the same. Never deviate from your method.

Preparation

At Vinaccio, we roast all of our samples very light. This allows us to taste the coffee bean, not the roast profile. Certain roasters may take their coffees into the second crack, again, that may work for them.

When we cup coffee, we will have three different tray set up. One tray will have the green coffee, another tray will have the roasted coffee, and the third tray will have the ground coffee. We feel that this is essential because it allows you to judge the coffee according to the quality of the green coffee bean, and allows you to smell the dry coffee grounds, and it allows you to see how the roasted coffee looks as a finished product. You have to remember that the consumer will judge the coffee in the whole bean form strictly from an aesthetic viewpoint.

Here at Vinaccio Coffee, we use the infusion type of brewing for our cupping method. The first step is to grind up your coffee with a coarse grind. You need to let the coffee rest for a minimum of two days. After resting for two days, place the grounds in the small ceramic bowl and pour 201°C water over the top. Allow the grinds to infuse for around four minutes.

Before breaking the crust of the coffee, please give it a visual examination and breathe in deeply so that you can smell the coffee at this stage. The next step is to break the crust and slowly stir the contents until the grinds sink to the bottom. Any grinds left floating on top should be scooped away.

Once you have cleared the service of the coffee, aspiration may begin. To be honest, there is no classy way to do this. They’re going to have to slurp, make some crazy noises, but the main objective is to take a big spoon, fill it with your infusion and aspirate the coffee into the roof your mouth. This will create a vapor and trigger your sense of smell. At this point you will the coffee around your mouth and taste the coffee.

Once you’re at this point do not be afraid to describe what you taste. Each of us have different palettes and will describe different tastes. There really is no wrong or right and describing what you taste, just opinions. When you’re finished aspirating, use that the coffee into a bowl or sink.

You should always keep notes while cupping and there are various forms that you can download off of the Internet. I will include one of ours on our website.

This is what you’re looking for when you cup coffee :

Fragrance of dry ground coffee.

Does the coffee smell fresh or still? Is it over or under roasted?

Examples:

  • Sweet
  • Spicy
  • Roasty
  • Nutty
  • Malty
  • Carbony
  • Stale
  • Fresh

Fragrance of wet ground coffee

when you add hot water to coffee, the aroma will multiply exponentially. Write down what you smell.

Examples:

  • Smooth
  • Fresh
  • Lively
  • Creamy
  • Sharp

Acidity / Character

Acidity can be both good and bad in coffee. Have you ever tasted a coffee that you perceived as sour? That was acidity. On the other hand, a coffee without any acidity lacks character.

Examples

  • Nippy
  • Neutral
  • Soft
  • Tangy
  • Tart
  • Rough
  • Mild
  • Delicate
  • Smooth
  • Winey

Body

Body is something that I like to explain as “mouthfeel.” If that heaviness you feel in the gums of your mouth

Examples

  • Full
  • Rich
  • Fat
  • Thin

Flavor and Depth

What specific flavors come through? Think of what’s in your kitchen. Those are some good starting points to describe taste. Does the coffee have wine notes? Spice? Chocolate?

Examples

  • Fruity
  • Winey
  • Buttery
  • Caramel
  • Chocolate
  • Blackcurrant
  • Woody
  • Grassy
  • Honey
  • Liquorice
  • Malty
  • Nutty
  • Spicy (and what kind of spice?)

Finish

After you have finished, what does the aftertaste leave in your mouth?

Examples

  • Sweet
  • Sour
  • Bitter
  • Sharp
  • Smooth
  • Full
  • Silky
  • Burnt
  • Dry

Conclusion/Comments

If you were to write a short paragraph describing the attributes of the coffee, what would it say? Be sure to include anything not described in the cupping form.