I had the honor of being one of eight judges invited to the Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality. The event was held at the Interamerican Coffees cupping lab in Houston. Nice lab and gracious hosts. For this event Interamerican had to give up their lab for the week.
Our first session was held on the Monday evening was designed to teach the judges and get the judges comfortable with a new cupping app called OpenCup. We were the second group to use the new software. This app was easy to use and understand. Two years ago at this same event I used a different app that was cumbersome and easy to enter a score on the wrong coffee. This new app was logical and informative with numerous reports to evaluate the scores. After reviewing our scores in the deliberation room, we were able to see spider charts of our scores, extensive origin and process detail of each coffee. The app still had a few bugs which will be fixed before its debut at the SCAA Event in Atlanta.
On Tuesday we started early with a calibration round which also gave us some more time to work with the app. By the time the actual judging started we were all familiar and comfortable with the app. Our first round of cupping was Costa Rica. From Costa Rica we moved onto Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala. All in all we found some excellent coffees.
Wednesday we were able to sleep in a little. Once at the lab we cupped Guatemalans, Nicaraguans and Honduras. Again we found some excellent coffees. There were very few issues with some of the coffees but I found my favorite of the event.
Wednesday night we had a group dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Dinner included lots of queso, chips, tortillas, beef, chicken, veggies and pitchers of Margaritas. The meat and veggies we brought to the table on burning coal mini stoves. Throughout the evening we shared our love of coffee.
Mexico was on our first two tables for Thursday morning followed by 3 tables of Nicaraguan coffees. Mexico had an amazing gem. Results of the cupping will be announced at the Rainforest Alliance Breakfast in Atlanta during the SCAA event.
A special thanks goes out to Linda and Marty our head judges, Bob the OpenCup programmer, Sara and Lauren from the Rainforest Alliance, Interamerican Coffee and Rosemary from Interamerican. Without their months of planning and hard work this event would not happen. To all the farmers who submitted samples for the cupping an enormous thank-you.