Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Badger & Dodo Coffee Tasting

The lovely Emmanuelle and Beverly, owners of L'Atitude 51 in Cork, are great at organising events. They have created a lovely space upstairs which is ideal for hosting wine tastings and gatherings. Recently, they played host to a different sort of tasting. Instead of the usual wine, a small crowd was treated to a coffee cupping hosted by Brock Lewin of Badger & Dodo. Given that coffee played a major part in sustaining my PhD studies and now fuels my working day, I was intrigued by the idea of learning more about my daily addiction. 

Brock kicked off by asking if any one in the room still used instant coffee. Even if anyone did, they weren't going to admit it, so Brock progressed to asking who in the room ground their own beans. A fair amount of people raised their hands to this question, leaving me feeling a little remiss. Last Christmas we received  a present of a Nespresso machine, which replaced our old pressurised espresso maker. I must admit that I have become a massive fan of the Nespresso system, mainly due to its cleanliness, ease of use, and the fact that there are some quite good coffees in the range. No hating please from coffee fans.

Brock moved on to explaining the structure and scoring of a coffee cupping session. A bowl of freshly ground roasted beans is used for taking deep sniffs in order to assess the dry fragrance. Following this, off-the-boil water is added to the bowl and left to steep for several minutes. The crust formed by the grounds is removed and the wet aromas are inhaled. After a few more minutes, it's time to actually taste the coffee. This involves taking a spoon of coffee and slurping noisily, in order to get the coffee to coat the back of the throat.
Green yirgacheffe beans
We were split into small groups and we got to work sniffing, inhaling and slurping.  Three different beans, from two different regions. First was the dry processed Harare from Ethiopia, followed by the wet processed Ethiopian Yirgacheffe. The final selection was the dry processed speciality coffee, Canta Galo, from Brazil. Each coffee was quite different in aroma and flavour, but I struggled to find the words to express the differences. Brock explained that coffee is far harder to analyse than wine! It turns out that coffee has more flavour compounds than wine, which goes some way to making me feel better about my inability to identify the flavours. As we worked our way through the examples, Brock kept up a running discussion on roasting techniques, machinery and moisture!
Freshly ground roasted yirgacheffe
Yirgacheffe steeping before tasting
It was great fun to chat with my tasting companions and hear their take on the coffees we were tasting. The session wrapped up with some Q&A from Brock, whose enthusiasm for his topic was so evident. (Pro tip from Brock: use 60g of coffee grinds to every 1 litre of water). And we all got to bring home a bag of beautifully packaged Badger & Dodo beans. I might even invest in a coffee grinder and resurrect our old espresso machine. Ireland has a whole slew of micro coffee roasters, so if you're a coffee fan, there's bound to be a roaster out there to suit your taste. Badger & Dodo is available from over 70 cafes nationwide, several retail stores, or via their online shop.
I left the cupping session with many questions. The first and foremost was why I found it so hard to identify the flavours and scents of coffee. I could clearly taste and smell differences, but verbalising it was a whole different story. It's a good thing to be challenged and I shall definitely be looking at (and tasting) coffee in a whole new light.

Badger & Dodo
Tel: +353 (0)87 0532660
Twitter:  @BadgerAndDodo

L'Atitude 51,1 Union Quay, Cork
Tel: +353 (0)21 239 0219
Twitter: @Latitude_51


Anonymous said...

I think it should be 60g of coffee per L.

Ariane said...

Oh don't worry I'm with you on the easy of Nespresso - especially as I'm the only coffee drinker in the house!

Laura McDonnell said...

Must admit to loving Nespresso too, I haven't ground beans since I got it last Christmas, good flavour, no mess!

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