HORICON - In her first-ever presentation on coffee cupping, Lee Schauer told those gathered at the Horicon Public Library Thursday night everything they ever wanted to know about coffee.Schauer's visit was sponsored by the Friends of the library.
Schauer opened her comments by citing her T-shirt that on the front says "We have upped the standard of coffee in Milwaukee" and, on the back "Now up yours."
Schauer, who roasts seven pounds of coffee at a time, pointed out that they have specialty coffee. She advised that coffee labeled "special" is of higher quality than that labeled as "premium."
"Coffee cupping is an art, a craft, a science," she said as she poured three samples of ground coffee. To do coffee cupping at home, Schauer said that all that is needed to get started are wide-mouth eight ounce cup, a soup spoon, hot water (just short of boiling), coffee, a bowl for spent grounds, a glass of drinking water and clear taste buds.
According to Schauer, coffee is most often judged on the characteristics of:
-Acidity - to coffee is like dryness is to wine. It creates a lively, bright taste in some coffees.
-Body - the way coffee feels in the mouth, similar to how whole milk feels compared to water.
-Aroma - providing the subtle differences such as floral, nutty or fruity. Without aroma, only sweet, sour, bitter and salty are tasted.
-Flavor - can be rich (full bodied), complex (multi-flavored) or balanced (no one characteristic over powers the other.)
"Either you like it or you don't, Schauer said. "Some people have sensitive tastebuds, while others have tastebuds that are lazy."
Schauer stressed that freshness is the key to great coffee.
"Coffee is like bread. You buy it often and do not let it set around. Coffee loses flavor as it ages," she said, suggesting buying directly from a roaster.
"Buy whole bean coffee and grind only as much coffee as you plan on using per pot. And store coffee in a cool, dark, air-tight container."
During the smelling demonstration, Schauer advised against wearing hand lotion, hair spray or other perfumed products.
"These smells can interfere and the room should be totally quiet with no distractions," she said.
Other information distributed by Schauer included the history of coffee dating from prior to 1000 A.D. when members of the Galla tribe in Ethiopia noticed that they got an energy boost when they ate a certain berry, ground up and mixed with animal fat.
Among facts cited included the boost in coffee drinking after the Boston Tea Party in 1773, the coining of the term "kaffee klatch" in the early 1900s, the boom of coffee sales in 1920 as prohibition went into effect, the importing of 70 percent of the world's coffee crop in 1940, and the opening of the first Starbucks store in Seattle's Pike Place public market in 1971.