Cafe Sessions with Steve: August 2023

Welcome once again to our latest captivating Café Session! As the days of summer march on, we find ourselves at the exciting crossroads of transition. The cheers of football fans echo in the air as pre-season training ignites hopes of a triumphant year, and there's an electric buzz surrounding the Denver Broncos, thanks to the guidance of their new Coach, the esteemed Sean Payton. Could this be the season we've all been waiting for? The anticipation is almost palpable.

But let's not forget the real heroes of early mornings – parents. With the return of school, the rhythm of households shifts, and the symphony of alarm clocks and bus stops reverberates once more. It's a time of adjustment, where coffee becomes the trusted ally, fortifying the bleary-eyed parents as they navigate the rush of back-to-school routines. As the aroma of freshly brewed coffee mingles with the dawn, a sense of camaraderie emerges among parents nationwide, united by this shared experience.

And while the days continue to sizzle, there's a subtle whisper in the air, hinting at the approaching splendor of fall. The promise of cooler evenings and the rustle of golden leaves invites us to dream of cozy sweaters and pumpkin-spiced everything. Even though summer officially has another month to grace us with its presence, the anticipation of the autumnal embrace is a reminder that change is constant, and beauty lies in every season's transition.

So, fellow enthusiasts, as we indulge in our cherished brews, let's bask in the excitement of football's resurgence, extend a salute to the resilient parents embracing the school routines, and hold close the remaining moments of summer, guiding us gently into the embrace of fall's allure. And as our tradition goes, dive into this newest Café Session where we get into the very coffee questions you curate! This month’s topics? Coffee Cupping and Coffee Acidity.

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Coffee Cupping is a globally standardized method of coffee tasting to assess each bean’s various flavors, aromas, etc. It is a beloved ritual in which nearly every participant in the coffee supply chain partakes. While professionals often use it to determine specific characteristics which they can market (in addition to quality control), it is also something that many coffee aficionados engage in as well. Why? Because Coffee Cupping is a great way to try different beans and discover which type of coffee is best for you.

 Coffee is grown in so many different countries around the world, each having its own unique aroma, acidity, body, and flavor. Coffee Cupping allows you to have a small sample of each bean and will help you determine whether you prefer say, a strong dark Indonesian coffee or a lighter roast from Central America.

Before you embark on this flavor-filled journey, the first stop is selecting your beans. To truly appreciate the nuances, you'll want to gather a diverse squad of beans. It's like inviting a bunch of coffee characters to a party. Grind them all to a standard medium consistency; and go ahead and put away your coffee filters – you won’t need them on this particular coffee adventure as you will let the grounds soak directly in the hot water.

Now here is where the fun begins - Arrange your cups like eager contestants on a reality show, making sure each one contains a different sample of grounds. Before adding water, give each cup a little shake to even out the grounds, and smell the fragrance of each specific bean. This is the first step of tasting to get your smell in order – your coffee appetizer, so-to-speak.

Next, add the appropriate amount of hot water to each cup. Typically we use a 1:18 ratio of coffee beans to water, so make sure to use the same amount for each bean you try and start with 10g of ground coffee to add 180ml of water. Let soak for four minutes and then Voila! A coffee crust should have formed at the top of each cup.

You’ll want to break this crust open to release the aromas. Do this by taking a spoon and swiping the crust from front to back of your cup three times, but do not dip the spoon to the bottom of the cup where the grounds have settled. After breaking the crust you will notice a small layer of foam has settled at the top of the cup. Take two spoons and essentially scrape the foam from the top of the cup and discard leaving you with a cup of what looks like a regular brewed coffee, again be careful not to disrupt the grounds at the bottom!

Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for – tasting the coffee. Don’t just pick up the cup and take a drink though! Instead dip a spoon just under the surface of the coffee and get your nose real close to the cup to smell the aromas. Then Slurp. Yes, slurping is not just allowed; it's encouraged. This spreads the coffee around your entire mouth ensuring it hits each taste bud, allowing you to taste the full spectrum of flavors in the beans. Do this again as the coffee settles and cools off, as the flavors will become more pronounced as the temperature lowers.

So, there you have it, coffee cupping at home – a delightful soiree of scents, tastes, and experiences. Whether you're a coffee geek or just someone looking for a new adventure, this is your backstage pass to the captivating world of coffee's many personalities. Cheers to savoring the journey, one cup at a time!


First off, let's chat about those coffee traits that make experts swoon: aroma, acidity, body, and flavor. These are the descriptive factors universally used that help expert coffee tasters come up with the best way to characterize each roasted bean, (It's like coffee's own personality chart).

Typically, the heavier bodied coffees are the ones with the lowest acidity, or your "dark roasts." These are usually the Arabica beans that come from Indonesia. My personal favorite of these is the Sumatra which is widely regarded as the darkest bean you can find, (it's basically the James Bond of dark beans, oozing with intrigue and depth), granted a lot of that comes from how you roast the beans as well.

That said, if you are brewing the beans yourself, there are a couple ways you can reduce the acidity through the brew process itself. You can go all culinary wizard and sprinkle a pinch of salt or cinnamon to your grounds – think of it as adding a dash of flair to your coffee's personality. Or try adding some eggshells to your grounds prior to brewing – yes, you heard that right – apparently eggshells have an acidity-reducing superpower. It's like coffee chemistry class in action.  You can also add a touch of milk or cream to your cup, which would help to cut down on some acidity, but of course, you have to want that in your coffee in the first place.

Another, more hip style of coffee that is low in acidity is your cold brew. It's like the coffee version of taking the scenic route. Imagine your coffee grounds soaking up the chilled vibes for a full 24 hours. This slow dance with cold water extracts all the goodness while leaving acidity with a "see you later" note. It's like a serene retreat for your taste buds, a refreshing escape from the heat of traditional brewing methods.

All in all, if low acidity coffee is your aim, I would say your best bet is to try a dark roast. Trust me, they’re delicious!

If you have a topic or question you’d like me to tackle next month, don’t hesitate to ask! Submit an anonymous question or problem here. No name or email required.