If you ever wondered what is to cup coffee as a job, it’s not the glamorous job envisioned. Sure, the job has its perks, and its aura of coolness, but you have to spit a lot. A professional coffee cupper oversees the coffee quality and signs off the flavour profile for all coffees in a roastery.
I always start the day with two cups of coffee.
It requires you to slurp the coffee and then spit it out into a spittoon, a bit like wine tasting.
Doing this helps to prevent me from over caffeinating myself and ensures that I sleep at night.
I work on the coffee buying team of Taylors of Harrogate and have been working here for 15 years. My job involves overseeing coffee quality and signing off the flavour profile for all new products.
The flavour profile is a combination of the taste and aroma of the coffee. The sign off process involves a panel of people from within the company coming together many times throughout the duration of any new product development to refine and approve the final product.
Coffee actually contains more aromas than wine. As a qualified Coffee Q grader – professional coffee taster – I’m able to recognise and name hundreds of different aromas that can be detected in coffees from all over the world.
I never get tired of discovering new coffees and it’s certainly one of my favourite parts of the job, but I do have to limit my intake.
My job isn’t just tasting coffee, however. When I’m not in the office, I’m usually travelling abroad.
My first trips to coffee-growing countries took me to Nicaragua, El Salvador, Brazil and Kenya where I spent a few months training.
I’ve also visited Colombia, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Panama, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and I’m due to travel to Indonesia later this year.
A typical origin trip can involve anything from visiting remote farms and processing facilities to tasting lots of coffee to calibrate with our suppliers.
My trips overseas have led me to appreciate the complexity of growing and processing coffee. I also often discover new words and ways to describe coffee when I’m tasting with people from other countries, which I love.
When it comes to what coffee takes my fancy, it can really depend what mood I’m in. It’s really subjective.
Coffee is also a seasonal product so its taste can vary throughout the year.
I’m particularly drawn to coffee from Colombia, Central America and East Africa because coffees from these countries tend to feature a good level of sweetness, balance and acidity.
I don’t like to use the word ‘snob’ but I’m definitely very particular about my coffee. Thankfully, I have easy access to some amazing flavours on a daily basis.
There are two main species of coffee: arabica and robusta. Arabica is a more species, which tends to be grown at higher altitudes and in cooler than climates. It’s sweeter, more aromatic and finer in flavour.
Personally, I prefer a lighter roast with delicately-nuanced flavour. Lighter roasts showcase the inherent characteristics of the beans and can result in a more unique flavour. I go for coffees with fruity (citrus or berry), floral (jasmine) and sweet, caramel notes.
If I’m drinking coffee out of the home or work, I like to hunt out the best coffee shops in town.
I take my coffee black or with milk but never sugar. It’s purely a personal preference, but I just feel that it overwhelms the actual flavour of the coffee.
One of the most common coffee mistakes people make is drinking stale coffee. They’ll open a bag of coffee but then leave it open for weeks before finishing it – and once the coffee is exposed to oxygen, it starts to go stale.
My recommendation would be to store your coffee in an air tight container and try to drink it within two to three weeks.
The national obsession with coffee has developed alongside the rise of high street coffee shops, and has been closely followed by the rise of independent coffee shops.
When I was growing up, you never went out for a coffee but now you do. It’s a social drink that brings people together.