Frequently Asked Questions
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Channeling occurs when there is a weak spot in the coffee puck that has been exploited under the high brewing pressure during espresso extraction. The result is that the coffee around the channel will be very over-extracted while coffee further from the site of channeling will be under-extracted. The resulting espresso will be both bitter and sour simultaneously. Channels are visible in spent pucks, and are often the result of an error on the part of the barista during preparation.
Cupping is a process used by industry professionals to evaluate the taste, fragrance, and aroma of a coffee before buying, or to compare roast profiles before selling. Coffee is roasted, then ground and placed in the bottom of a cupping bowl or “rocks” glass. Hot water (195-205F) is poured onto the coffee in the vessel, saturating it entirely. The mixture is allowed to “steep” for 2-4 minutes, before the crust of ground coffee, carbon dioxide, and water is broken, releasing the aroma which is inhaled by the cupper as part of the evaluation. The foam left floating is then skimmed off and discarded. A spoonful of the coffee liqueur is quickly and strongly slurped by the cupper in order to atomize the aromatics and dissolved solids, so that every part of the palate is utilized in the sensory evaluation. This last step is repeated several times as the coffee cools, to detect changes (both positive and negative) in the flavor over time.