Totally Committed – 100% Cupping

by Trish Skeie, Zoka's Director of Coffee
Sometimes the guys have to ring me at my desk, or maybe I'm in the stairwell en route to the ground floor, but if I'm on schedule by 9am, you'll find me in the roastery carrying out my favorite ritual of the day- setting up the morning cups for tasting. Zoka roasters taste every roast that comes out of our small-batch coffee roaster. The simple and routine act of dosing, grinding, collecting hot water, and lining up cups for evaluation seems to put it all into perspective. The mission is clear...if cups are on point, then we can surely deal with whatever else the day decides to throw our way. After each roast, a sample of whole beans is pulled from the cooling tray and marked for the date, sequence and coffee code. One cup from every roast is collected and waits with the others by the side of the roaster. Twice a day, staff convenes at the table to evaluate the day's work. Just one sample from each roast is Espresso Paladino is our most popular coffee and we've been known to taste 20 different roasts of this coffee in the same day. What are we looking for? What do we want to taste? Well, let's just say that if we have nothing to say about the cups it's a good day. Funny, but if we have nothing to talk about, then the coffees taste as they should. There are no defects crashing the party, no faded or flat flavors, and no alarms are raised. It's a great day when we surprise ourselves with a better roast than we tasted before. When that happens, we study the roasting log for clues to our success and discuss a change in roasting protocol. This is the way we keep the craft fresh; our cuppings inform our everyday tasks in a profound way. There's nothing I'd rather do at work than cup our production roasts. Tasting each and every roast is a bit time consuming, but it's time well-spent. Drink it up! -trish