[SG] Common Man Coffee Roasters | coffee to the common man

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Coffee has been our pet interest which never fails to fascinate with its depth of knowledge behind each cup, from its beans, place of origin, brewing method to the multi-faceted taste in each mouthful. We were honored to be invited to a coffee cupping session, understanding more about what goes on behind each cup of coffee and the depth of flavours in it; followed by a tasting of their ever-popular brunch menu!

Preparing our stomachs for caffeine overdose! 

Coffee cupping is a tasting session to observe the taste and aroma of brewed coffee. Some aspects are determined from the cupping, namely its body, sweetness, acidity, flavour and aftertaste. For the session, we had a taste of 6 different types of beans from different origins hence a varietal of flavours (e.g. fruity, nutty, tobacco-flavoured) due to the difference in climate, elevation, rainfall etc.

Beans for the session: 
From front left clockwise 1. Kabirizi from Rwanda 2. Tiga Raja (Peaberry) from Sumatra 3. Ardi Sidama from Ethiopia 4. Nelson Trivino from Colombia 5. Camocim Estate (Iapar 59) from Brazil 6. Finca El Mirador from Colombia

3 cups are typically prepared to ensure flavour uniformity of the beans

This is typically done for the Master Tasters to assess the flavour profile of the beans, as well as to evaluate defective coffee or create new coffee blends.

To determine these, coffee cupping consists of deeply sniffing for a hint of the different flavours first. Andy is the person in-charge of their beans and mentioned that the sniffing process was where most of the flavours can be identified. As first-timers, almost all 6 of them smelled the same to us, with only a few of them having very distinct fruitier/nuttier flavours that we could differentiate :/.

After a round of sniffing, hot water was then added and allowed to settle for a few minutes, to a warm brew to prevent scalding. In each cup, break the top hardened crust layer with 3 backward stirs, allowing for some agitation, releasing volatility gases for a sharper smell.  

Then comes the ''show" where you'd have to slurp the coffee loudly to allow for aeration and for its taste to spread to the back of the tongue.

So this was Andrew, the main person behind their roasts, doing the cupping so gracefully while we were all fumbling, much less tasting the multi-dimensions of each brew! Interestingly, everyone produces a different-sounding slurp, as we've heard from all their seasoned baristas. 

Such sessions are held frequently like a learning circle, detecting hints of different flavours/characters in each brew.

Aeropress - another method of brewing coffee, using air pressure to improve the extraction of flavour 

The filter and aeropress are used for different types of beans with different characteristics, and while technicals were being explained, we thought it might be easier to leave it to the baristas to decide on the best brew to serve for us.

Dispelling some common misconceptions we've had and of course understanding more about the preparation process, did you know:

1. After roasting coffee, it cannot be brewed immediately - it is recommended to let espresso coffee degas before brewing. If the coffee is brewed too fresh, it can be very challenging to extract the right flavours and can often lead to an astringent cup.

2. Sourness can be an indicator of specific acidities. Often when tasting specialty coffee, the sourness can highlight good acidity such as citrus acid - lemon, limes, grapefruit; malic acid - apples, pears; ascorbic acid - young grapes etc.

It takes training and more conversations to accurately decipher what it is. We were quite surprised how this can actually mean different tastes when we were more conscious of our senses, and even tasted savoriness in a cup subsequently!

3. Amongst cappuccino, latte and flat white, the strength of coffee decreases in that order. More or less foam changes the milk to coffee ratio, causing it to be stronger or weaker accordingly. Hence with more foam in cappuccino to absorb the flavour, it is the strongest amongst the trio.

Also, each drink has a specific cup size, i.e. cappuccino 170ml, flat white/latte 180-210ml, piccolo 90ml.

4. Coffee tastes bitter when it's hot, while acidity rises as it starts to cool down. Hence it's typical for us to taste sour-ness when it's left for a while, though a good cup of coffee should not be too overwhelmingly sour. In fact, the fruity notes are supposed to come through stronger when it cools down slightly.

5. While everyone has a different preference of coffee, a good cup of coffee should always be balanced. And of course, while latte art makes for good instagrammable moments, it does not, in any way determine if the coffee is good or bad. We used to think that bubbling meant that the milk might not have been foamed properly, but had just realized that it was in fact normal, and could mean that the coffee was fresh. :)

Lucky, the friendly head barista who's always keen to share his knowledge about coffee. Snag a seat at the bar counter for more coffee conversations to understand more from him!

We had an enriching session learning about coffee cupping and definitely how to appreciate our coffee better! To spread more about coffee knowledge, helping common man like us understand more,  they have public cupping sessions every Wednesday at 2pm. Check out their Facebook page for more updates and registration details. 

P.S. Thank you Alexandra for the invite and the Common Man team for such an informative session!

Common Man Coffee Roasters 
22 Martin Road #01-00

You Might Also Like