Coffee is one of my absolute favorite things on earth. In fact, I’ve often said that if my house was burning down and I could grab only one tangible, non-sentimental item…I’d get my Keurig machine.
I drink three cups a day, whether it’s from my beloved Keurig or a Cuisinart drip pot or a French press or at a coffeehouse. And while I heart the java, I’ve never had a true appreciation for what goes into a cup of finely roasted coffee.
That was until last Saturday.
My go-to Little Rock coffeehouse, Guillermo’s Gourmet Grounds, hosted a group of “foodies” (which included fellow bloggers Thanh Rasico of Red Kitchen Recipes and Joel DiPippa of Southern Ash, along with Twittermates Erin Robinson, Erika Gee, Amy Goins, and Lee Edwards) for a coffee cupping event.
We received the gourmet treatment all morning, as Hans Oliver, Guillermo’s owner and café namesake, led a 45-minute cupping presentation, while his trusty staff prepared sandwiches and various drinks for us behind the scenes.
This particular coffee cupping event was designed to appeal to a more novice coffee drinker. A typical cupping process can be a time-consuming and fairly exhaustive process. Thankfully, Hans kept things short and sweet, and featured just three distinctly different beans: Ethiopian Harrar, Indonesian Sulawesi, and Costa Rica.
He handed out a note sheet which allowed each participant to rate the coffees on Fragrance, Sweetness, Flavor, Acidity, Aftertaste, Body, and Overall Perception. Various bowls of the freshly ground coffee were then set up around the bar.
I found Hans to be both informative and interesting, with a calm delivery that made even the most mundane details about coffee seem fascinating. During the cupping process, our group smelled the grounds both before and after the addition of hot water, as well as slurped each coffee once it was hand-brewed.
To say we got up close and personal with the coffee would be an understatement. Have you ever broken a coffee crust and followed it up with a big snort? Didn’t think so. Massive amounts of slurping and spitting ensued, a necessary process in detecting the nuances of each bean and roast.
Afterwards, we headed to the back room and dined family-style on an assortment of sandwiches, along with a strawberry/walnut salad, and brownies. I’ve touted Guillermo’s sandwiches before, so I was beyond happy to see the turkey panini, as well as the ham crunch on our table. Guillermo’s crew also prepared a delicious chicken salad on mini croissants.
The food and coffee were fantastic, but the fun which came from slurping coffee and the education we gained while doing it, were truly memorable. Hans’ knowledge is off the charts and it’s wonderful to see the passion and pride he takes in educating a Little Rock community of coffee lovers.
The next coffee cupping will be held on Saturday, March 9th (10-11am) at Guillermo’s. The cost is $15 and includes a half-pound bag of a coffee of your choice (meal not included).