coffee tastings

blind coffee tasting events

Overview

This defines a way to hold and score coffee tastings in such a way that the results from different events may be compared. Consider organizing such an event yourself, using the same scoring system, and emailing the results to c2builder at yahoo com.

Recent Changes to these pages, most recent listed at top

Feb 22coffee price listing begun here.
Feb 21tasting '2.0'. see 2nd link in Events area. and see photos.
Feb 19replaced scoring section with new definitions.
Feb 10fixing dead links. Updating text on scoring.
Feb 9met a coffee guru who plans to attend our Feb 21 fest.
Feb 5scoring no longer uses the 1-10 system. whys and wherefores.
Feb 3found more tasting technique pages added to Links at bottom of this page.
early Feblocal coffee houses giving advice on bean choice to reduce comments about "bitterness".
end JanFeb 21, Sunday, chosen for next gathering. see 2nd link in Events area.
Jan 18thFirst attempt a coffee tasting, French Roast emphasis. See 1st link in Events area.

Tasting Events

The overall goal is to find the best coffee to serve at home for ourselves and our guests. To remove the influence of advertisers, coffee house decor, and the like, we'll have a series of blind tasting events on weekend mornings, hosted by whomever feels like organizing it. A consistent scoring convention should allow the results of one to be compared with the results of other such events.

Because we intend to serve our chosen favorite at home, only typical, residential coffee equipment and techniques will be used. Since few if any use french presses, for example, we won't constrain our events to use such - despite the urgings of high end coffee shops.

Because each of us trying to make the best home coffee for our guests, the events will publish the raw score values from each participant as well as statistical means for each coffee. This mean score value is our best way, for now, of determining an overall winning coffee.

There is a lot of information available on coffee tastings at the professional level but their goals are different and their budgets unlimited (see, for example, link. We will borrow from their techniques as suits our goal.

For any particular event, some will bring coffee but all will be tasting. As the organizer starts contacting people, they'll be asked if they have a coffee they'd like to see tasted. If so they have to tell the organizer the particular and indicate whether they need to bring special equipment to make it. The people who make the coffee can elect to keep the name of the coffee secret but the organizer needs to see that there are no duplicates.

The organizer should also arrange to have on hand as many thermoses as there will be coffees to taste. Each thermos will be given a number to be used on the score cards.

An organizer chooses a guest list and a time and place for the event. The invitations can be made by email or phone, as the organizer chooses. The people who are going to make the coffee need to arrive a little earlier than the others. Note that someone wanting to bring McDonald's coffee, however, can just bring a thermos full of the purchased coffee. As people arrive, the organizer needs to hand out score cards and attach numeric labels to the various coffee containers. At the end of the tasting, the organizer has to score the event and announce which numbers correspond to which brands of coffee as well as how those coffees fared.

The scorecard just needs to have a place for the person's name and then a list of numbered lines for the ratings. The names of the coffees aren't written on the scorecards until the scores are announced.

The organizer may want to contribute his or her favorite coffee to serve as a standard for future comparisons. If, for example, I think Peet's French Roast is the best coffee, all events I host will include this coffee. I can compare the results from from January's event with May's and each set of results quickly reveals what people think might be better than my current favorite.

The organizer's last official duty is to email the results to me (c2builder at yahoo.com). If the results are typed into a text file similar to this example, then I (frank, c2builder) can help crunch the numbers with a small program I wrote.

Rating LA  My new favorite! I will tell people about this!
Rating SO  very good! Would buy this even if guests didn't like it.
Rating FA  good. would buy this if I thought guests would like it.
Rating MI  no complaints but wouldn't seek it out.
Rating RE  would drink it to be polite (if served)
Rating DO  would avoid drinking it even at a friend's house

Thermos   Rating    Taster's 
Number    Column    Notes, comments
   1.     ______    __________
   2.     ______    __________
   3.     ______    __________
   4.     ______    __________
   5.     ______    __________
   6.     ______    __________
  etc
 
How I prepared the coffee I brought (if appropriate):
______________________________

Suggestions for a 'next event' _______________________

Host's notes on the un-numbered coffee: ________________________
The above is in the following blank scorecard.rtf file can be downloaded, edited, and printed for your event.

Coffees to Taste

The following are just suggestions. Invitees can obviously choose whatever they want to bring. The collected notes, including prices, are here.

There's nothing against trying espresso's, various roasts, or coffee obtained in far-away lands. If you have a special way of preparing it (like adding whiskey), you can add it to the list. If your special coffee has to be sipped from a beer mug, be prepared to bring some mugs along with your coffee still.

If we're going to taste decafs, we might devote a whole gathering to just decaf.

Events, upcoming, past events with results

Each event will become an entry in the following table:
DateLocationResultsNotes
Jan 18,2010Walnut Creek link 15 tasters, 13 coffees, Yuban and Folgers did surprisingly well!
Feb 21,2010Walnut Creek link Coffee 2.0, 11 tasters, 8 coffees, revised tasting method. Yuban?!
April 10,2010Walnut Creek link "Coffee 3.0", the LAST (for now)

Lessons learned, mainly from 1st tasting...

T-shirt display caffeine molecule. from ThinkGeek.com
research a great site on chemistry behind coffee brewing. many surprises.
coffee geek informative site with a bit of whimsy.
cold-brewing my notes on making cold-brewed coffee
Peet's web page on tasting technique
Starbuck's I don't know the site well but try 'Learning About Coffee', 'The Flavors in Your Cup',

file: projects/coffee/coffeeTasting.html,