Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Coffee People
I was reading the Post as I was waiting for the subway this morning (no crazy delays, derailments, or deaths -- good job, guys!), and I noticed that the front page of the Food section featured a big picture of an unshaven guy sticking his nose into a glass of amber liquid. This, of course, got my attention. Turns out, the liquid was coffee and the unshaven guy was part of what they call a "cupping," which the article describes as "a formalized way to evaluate bean characteristics." That would be coffee beans. I'm not a big coffee guy (even so, my feelings are kind of hurt about never being invited to a cupping), but this whole process, and the article describing it, just struck me as comical. Nicholas Cho, the owner of Murky Coffee, and a guy with a good p.r. person, led the cupping, which apparently was done for the Post. Cho seems like quite a character. As participants bring a spoon full of coffee to their lips, he tells them that "You want to spray the coffee across the palate. Be careful not to burn your mouth." After the cuppers apparently swish the spoonful of coffee around their mouth for a while, they then spit it into a plastic cup.

It gets better (or worse). In another article in today's Food section, Cho (I told you he had a good p.r. guy) enlightens us on the hot chocolate that he serves at his shop. It costs $5, and he instructs his baristas not to answer customers' questions about the drink (like how big it is, or why it would cost $5, I guess). He claims this is because it's a "social experiment." (I told you he was quite a character.) Apparently he's trying to say something about the hot chocolate, maybe justify the mystery or the high cost of it, when he says, "If you were forced to jump once, it sticks with you, and you're part of the club." I have no idea what that means, but I think I'll pass on being part of that club.

9 comments:

cleavers44 said...

I love this quote from the "cupping" article: The flavor, Cho says, should be appropriate to the origin of the bean. Does that mean coffee from Latin America should taste like nachos, or my French Roast tastes like quiche?

Nick said...

Does that mean coffee from Latin America should taste like nachos, or my French Roast tastes like quiche?
Actually, no... but it means that if you produced coffee, it would taste like ass.

(just kidding... yeah tadcranky, our coffee-nut stuff can sound "comical," but so could an article about what you do at your job... and I have no p.r. person. I'm just an attention whore.)
- Nick Cho, murky coffee

tadcranky said...

Hi Nick. Sounds like you've got folks buying what you're selling, so good for you.

cleavers44 said...

Nick, you're probably right - if I grew coffee beans, it'd taste like grass clippings, dead leaves, and dog "seasonings"

Marianne said...

Coffee accounts for the largest import/export industry in the world next to oil,supplies jobs for something like 80 million people, and is quickly becoming regarded as a drink with as many subtlties of flavor as wine. You don't run around making fun of people who taste wine, do you? Coffee should be regarded with equal respect, despite the reputation it has of being simply a comodity.

That said, you should probably try the coffee at Murky before you dismiss it. It's widely regarded as the best coffee in the region, despite me being the one to tout it as such.

Marianne, Murky Coffee

tadcranky said...

Actually, I do make fun of a lot of people that make a big deal out of wine, though I don't run around while I do it. I wasn't dismissing the coffee at your joint, I was saying that I found the article amusing and that the quote about the hot chocolate made no sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Geez, people are a tad cranky about cupping their beans. Borrowing a quote from Tom L., "it's just a beverage".

Anonymous said...

I still don't really get it, but that's probably because I drink coffee for utilitarian purposes. That it tastes good and isn't burnt is good enough for me. The five-dollar hot chocolate is where I'd have to draw the line, though. Even the hot chocolate I got from the guy on Grand Place in Brussels was only a little over two euros, and I'm sure I was good enough for it.

Grande Skim Ass said...

I'm pretty sure Austin Powers took a sip of Ass coffee in Austin Powers II.