I responded on this point at length on the other thread. *Any bets the response was too long and presumably people wont actually read it for that reason, so Ill have a go at making the point more succinctly.
This is a false dichotomy. *The argument goes that the coffees that taste best in cupping are not the ones that taste best as espresso with milk added. *That much is pretty much true. *The argument continues that therefore cupping is useless if your goal is to make an espresso blend, particularly a blend for milk. *That is false. *It is false because it tries to equate cupping with particular characteristics of coffee. *Cupping is not a set of characteristics; it is a process that is used to analyse characteristics of coffee. *There is no reason why you cant use that process to look for characteristics that are best suited for espresso or for milk drinks.
Part of the argument against using cupping in the context of espresso is that coffee tasted through cupping tastes different from coffee tasted through espresso. *This is obvious and its a bit odd that people seem to be reacting as though this is a new and cutting edge insight. *Whilst coffee tasted through cupping might not taste identical to coffee tasted as espresso, it is the same coffee that is being tasted and the two flavours are related. *Relating the two together is part of the skill of a good roaster. *Frankly, its not actually that difficult. *If a coffee has poor body in the cupping bowl, it will have poor body as espresso. *If a coffee has low acidity in the cupping bowl, it will have low acidity in espresso. *Part of the skill of a good roaster is simply in knowing what to look for. *If you want a coffee that is big bodied and low acid for your milk drink, you can easily select that by cupping a bunch of samples. *
There are a few more points above. *One is the question of who should be cupping. *My view is that coffee roasters hold themselves out as having expertise in coffee and they take money from consumers for selling their product. *I think that this creates an ethical obligation on coffee roasters to actually know what they are talking about. *The key thing is that they actually produce and sell decent coffee, not that they use the cupping process to do so. *That said, the cupping process has a lot of logistical advantages when used for both coffee selection and quality control and my strong impression is that the roasters that I know actually do it deliver a better product than the roasters that I suspect do not. *But why should consumers cup? *I dont think that there is any reason at all that consumers should cup unless they are interested in coffee.
Another point raised above is the question of what blends should roasters be putting out there. *This is a question of taste for each roaster to decide for themselves and, of course, consumers will select what they like the most (if they look, that is). *I think that most roasters understand the point that the public preference in most places is for big bodied, sweet, low acid blends. *Most roasters have a "chocolate bar" kind of blend and I imagine that it is probably the biggest seller for practically any roaster. *Not having such a blend would probably be commercial suicide. *What I dont understand is why some roasters seem to offer a lot of blends (or single origins, for that matter) that dont actually taste all that different from each other. *IMHO, the ability to present different coffees that taste very different from each other is one of the hallmarks of a good roaster. *I understand the whole idea of single origin and am interested in it, but I dont understand why roasters dont let their tastebuds guide them into creating limited edition blends that taste good. *Why do all blends have to be something that sits there unchangingly? *To give an example, I cupped a good number of Kenyan coffee samples with a roaster about a month ago. *There were four that were particularly good, but none were particularly complex. *So we did the obvious and blended together three of them. *Sacrilege? *It seems that people might think so. *But the blend is delicious! *Single origins are interesting and great, but why does there have to be such a steep divide between blends of top secret components that roasters maintain forever and single origins? *To some extent, isnt offering single origins at the expense of blends just laziness? *And, whilst were at it, why the hell is it that in most places single origins are more expensive than blends? *I mean, by definition the blends take more effort to produce - theyre blended! *So are roasters putting crappier stuff in the blends, or are they simply creating an illusion that single origins are by definition a premium product? *Why not sell an expensive blend of top notch coffees and identify them as such?
Finally, can we stop using "cupping" as a synonym for "tasting"? *A tasting of a bunch of cappuccinos is a tasting, it is not a cupping. *This is not to say that one is better or worse than the other, it is just a recognition that cupping is a particular process. *"Tasting" is a perfectly good word for tasting by means other than the cupping process, so can we just call a tasting a tasting so as to remove confusion?
OK, so maybe that wasnt short, but at least it was shorter!