For our first Fall tasting event we decided we would do a coffee tasting. Stumptown Coffee Roasters gladly supplied a few of their amazing coffees for the tasting. If you haven't checked them out here in L.A. they just opened a store in Downtown, see my visit here. You'll love their coffee and the cool vibe of the place.
Mind you this was my first ever coffee tasting, which is surprising considering how much I love it. I asked around at local coffee roasters for the best way to go about this. Cupping is the method that most are doing, it's really for the experts. So I decided to use a French Press method. This way it's something that everyone can easily duplicate. I borrowed and bought a few French Presses for the occasion.
As I didn't want to make this too formal and stop the party flow, we discreetly mentioned to everyone that it was time do to the tasting if they were interested. We had an even mix of men and women who participated. I supplied the coffee mugs from Anthropologie and typed up the instructions as follows:
Step 1: Take a Cup and Piece of Paper
Step 2: Pour a little Coffee & Taste
Step 3: Write Down Notes Next to #
Step 4: Pick Your Favorite
Step 5: Revelation of Brand (End of Night)
Before the party I prepared the notes by staining this cute paper from Anna Rifle Paper Co. purchased from Anthropologie with a few coffee cup marks. Funny thing happened at the party a few of my friends sorted thru the papers to find a clean one, finally realizing that I purposely stained them. Oh I love you guys!
The other thing I did was make this a blind coffee tasting. I put #'s on all the French Presses and put the coffee in Paper Bags all numbered as well. This way if anyone moved a pot of coffee around we still knew which brand it was. All together I had 7 coffee's to taste. In the future I think I'd pick 5 at the most.
Here's the set-up:
The last photo is the reveal. Gather everyone who tasted the coffee and made notes. One by one reveal what brand is in the bag. You can read a few coffee notes from the tasters and any notes you have from the brands yourself. It's up to you how formal you want this to be.
One of the great things during the tasting is it really stimulated conversation between everyone. It wasn't as easy as I thought to come up with descriptive words on what you were tasting. Maybe next time I'll put some adjectives or teaser words around to help that out. Maybe notes from the coffee roasters.
Another thing I learned, is you need something to cleanse your palate. Water maybe, well I had Acorn shaped sugar cookies to put out. Which warranted one comment on Coffee #6 "Good with Cookies." Hmmm?
What brands of coffee did I use? Los Angeles has quite a coffee scene these days with a few local coffee roasters and the newly opened Stumptown Coffee, based in Portland. My suggestion is use local coffee roasters and brands, make it easy for your guest to go out and buy their favorites.
So here's what we tasted and there was no clear winner. I expected that, it's like wine, it's what taste good to you.
#1 Handsome Coffee Roasters - Cristobal Fernandez
#3 Intelligentsia - Organic La Perla Oaxaca Mexico
#4 Handsome Coffee Roasters - Los Girasoles
#5 Groundwork - Black Gold
#6 Folgers (I had to throw in a basic less booszchee brand)
Throw in a basic coffee that you can get at your local grocery store. This makes for a fun evening and teasing. My fellow coffee snob and occasional blogger Roger happened to pick Folgers and well we can't stop teasing the poor man. Here's his notes:
We couldn't let people leave without trying Stumptown Coffee who was so kind as to supply us a few bags of coffee for the tasting. This meant we sent everyone home with a bag of beans. #mylifesimplysweet