café for contemporary art

Tasting @ Crema

Posted in Coffee, posts by Tim by Tim on July 4, 2009

Although I’ve been an aspiring coffee geek for about a year and a half now, I’ve never had the opportunity to attend a tasting. I’ve had plenty of straight espressi and a handful of french press/Clover coffees, but I’ve never been able to taste a group of fine coffees consecutively. Last night, at Café Crema in West Vancouver, I had that opportunity.

It was a blind tasting of 12 different single-origin coffees, all roasted by roasters in or around Portland, Oregon. Brent Fortune, owner of a café also called Crema in Portland, brought with him a dufflebag PACKED with coffees to sample. We tasted the coffees in two blind rounds; 5 brewed and one as espresso each round. At the end of each round we compared notes on what we tasted, then listened raptly as the origin, variety, and roaster were revealed.

One of the great things about tasting is that there is no “wrong” answer. Taste descriptors ranged from “blueberry” to “fruit by the foot” to “stumpy”, and even “mud puddle with peppa’ “. I think last night really helped me develop my palate further – that and I gained so much respect for the roasters who have the strength of tastebud to cup 50 or even 100 coffees in a single day.

However, the best part of the night for me was meeting other coffee geeks and getting to chat with them. Brent, besides owning a café, also trains judges for the WBC. Other faces included Troy (Elysian and a premier café in Edmonton), the owner of the new Momento Coffeehouse (website here) in Downtown Vancouver, the man behind the scenes at Elysian, and many more. Sorry to all the others and the last two – I’m horrible with names. There was so much knowledge concentrated in that space and being able to access it was very special.