“Taste the good, taste the bad. Taste things you know you’re not going to like.”
– Nathan Fulton ACR Roastmaster
By Colorado Coffee Zine
Allegro Coffee Roasters in Denver thought New Year’s Eve was just as good of a Saturday as any other for a Community Coffee Cupping. The free morning class hosted in the production space of Allegro’s year old roastery and café on Tennyson is just one of the events brewed up by the ACR team to make the many joys of specialty coffee more accessible and more interactive for the community.
Against the backdrop of a high ceilinged wall, lined with rows of busy shelves and sacks of whole coffee beans, Roastmaster Nathan Fulton took participants through a crash-course in cupping. He described the slow, meticulous process of developing the palate into an instrument that discerns flavor notes across a wide spectrum of tastes. Sharing his personal approach and style, a beaming Fulton recommended adding colors to the process. “Think about the color that matches the taste you experience,” said Fulton, admitting that articulating the flavors is one of the toughest parts of professional cuppings. “The second toughest part of professional cuppings,” he said “is remembering what things taste like.”
Armed with an overview of tasting and cupping, the participants realized that it was about to get real. To complement the four single origin coffees selected for the cupping, participants were introduced to three flavor clusters that coffee notes are often grouped into: fruits, berries and nuts, herbs and tomatoes, and chocolate. Fulton described each flavor cluster and invited participants to sample them. Then came the small batches of freshly ground coffee presented in ceramic dishes for the aroma component. This was followed by infusing the coffee with hot water for the extraction component. After another round of sampling the aroma, this time in its warm state, participants grabbed a wide spoon and enamel mugs.
“Slurping is important, it should be loud!” said Fulton, instructing the participants in how to break the crust, slurp-in the brew, and avoid over-caffeination. Participants exchanged their reactions to the different coffees’ tastes and smells with each other and with Fulton. Wrapping up the event, the four single origin coffees were revealed to be Ethiopia Duromina, Kenya Gatomboya, Guatemala Palo Blanco, Colombia La Palmera, and the two wild card additions Mister Twister Espresso and the house decaf.
Fulton’s newly energized group fired off questions for another 15 minutes and found he was incredibly knowledgeable and excited about his craft and the coffee industry. He encouraged the participants to keep a tasting journal to record their sensory experiences with everything from beer and wine to food and desert, something he’s sure will help them with remembering what things taste like.
Nathan Fulton will continue to host community events for ACR in 2017. Visit Allegro Coffee Roasters on social media and stop by the local flagship on Tennyson to find out more about events happening near you.