Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Speaking of Coffee....

This weekend I had the pleasure of attending my first coffee"cupping".  Similar to a beer or wine tasting, we gathered at Larry's Beans in Raleigh to sample some tasty Ethiopian coffees. Thank goodness for GPS or I probably never would have found the place, tucked away down a gravel road, but once I spotted the Larry's Beans bus, I knew I was in the right place!

As we arrived, Larry himself greeted us at the entrance and we walked into a small courtyard to the sound of a guitar and accordian being played, setting the mood and making it feel almost like we were transported to a cafe in Paris! The sun was out and the temperature was an unbelievable 70 degrees and we proceeded to drink some coffee and sample some tasty treats.

Shortly after arriving,  all of us were seated and Larry gave a short intro about the business and inspired us with his life long passion and pursuit for sustainability and great tasting coffee. We learned a lot about Ethiopian coffee and the beans we would be sampling were from the Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union in Ethiopia.  Chief roaster Brad Brandhorst, educated us on the different processing techniques and how that affects the flavors of the coffee beans.

After some history and a little instruction on how the cupping would work, we moved to the tables where we learned to look, smell, taste and rate the coffee based on several different characteristics such as aroma, acidity, body, flavor, sweetness, balance and aftertaste.

Slurping is the proper way to take in the full taste and feel of the coffee, a talent none of us were quite ready to take on! But, that is how the professionals do it so we gave it our best shot!

I drink a cup of coffee just about every day, only having started a few years ago. I have to admit, I have a much better appreciation for the process and the complexity of flavors that can be found in a quality bean after the cupping experience. 

Cupping instructions and taking notes
I hope to attend more coffee cuppings in the future! My thanks goes out to John Huisman @trianglexplorer for the invite! It was a nice afternoon learning about coffee, meeting some great people, listening to good music and sampling some delicious local coffee and beer!

Coffee really seems to be having its moment these days, along with craft beer.  We are very lucky to have great connoisseurs of coffee (and beer) in Raleigh that go to such great lengths for sustainability, quality and complex flavor.

We finished the tasting with a cold glass of FullSteam's Carver Sweet Potato beer and yes, another cup of coffee!!

I am also a big fan of iced coffee and I look forward to trying Larry's concentrated cold brew coffee. Available online now at

Larry's "on air"

Live music

Getting ready to learn about coffee!

Tasting and making a mess! Smells amazing!

Brad teaches us about skimming the crust

Keep Dancing!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Coffee and Beer pair up in Raleigh!

So last Friday night, we landed at New Raleigh's FIRST FRIDAY @ Oak City Cycling Project welcoming Slingshot Coffee Company's new HQ,  to sample two fairly new forces in Raleigh joining together to create an outstanding combination of beer and coffee. Each one standing unique and fabulous on their own, and yet together it was a uniquely exclusive Raleigh experience.

Slingshot Coffee Company, of Raleigh, is bottled cold brew coffee hand-crafted right here in Raleigh, NC. They were celebrating their new HQ space at Oak City Cycling. This company has really hit it off and is now distributing in several locations around the area.  The folks from Slingshot Coffee could not have been friendlier and were great to meet.  Slingshot Coffee has been a hit from the start, and I have followed it around town, finding it popular in several of the local bottle shops and often sold out. On Friday night, I was able to sample a Slingshot Coffee cocktail that was out of this world (need to get the recipe!).  Next, we got in line for to try the clever combination of Trophy Brewing's Slingshot Porter. Trophy Brewing is a nano brewery located on Morgan Street downtown and is scheduled to be opening in early 2013 with a full bar and growlers to go. They had two savory beers on tap to sample Friday, the Slingshot Porter and a delicious Saison.

The thing I enjoyed the most about Friday night, was attending another hip, laid-back event happening in downtown Raleigh that brings out a great mix of urbanites in the city that mostly know about such events via social media. The event was held in the bike shop at Oak City Cycling and when we got there, food trucks were parked across the street serving up delicious food options, only to go inside and sample delicious combinations of beer, and coffee mixed in with light conversation, local visual artist (Becky Joye, Raleigh-based designer), and even the guys from Megafaun did an acoustic session later in the evening. Families were there, kids were running around, couples young and old were hanging out and I loved the fact that I felt like I was at someone's backyard party...just the relaxed, cool vibe eminating from another impromptu awesome night out in Raleigh.

Sampling Trophy Brewing's beer offerings.

Slingshot Coffee Company's cold brew coffee.

Food trucks outside.

Oak City Cycling playing host.

Slingshot Coffee Co. new HQ.

Instagram contest.

Talking beer with Trophy Brewing.

Secret ingredients for Slingshot Coffee Cocktail.

Outside art at Oak City Cycling.