Patrocinio. Today was my first cupping with Akio and Cerrad – a coffee sourcing company Akio runs that focuses on sending high-quality Cerrado coffees to Japan. Akio a great example of a person whose curiosity and dedication to discovery generate a wealth of knowledge while maintaining humility. He prepared the cupping for me to better know Cerrado coffees, and also to discover my personal tastes to facilitate communication in the future. For me it was a great opportunity to cup with someone who had dedicated themselves to sourcing the best coffees in the Cerrado region.
It looks like a standard sample roaster that one finds here in Brazil. However, Akio, an electrical engineer by trade, has made several significant modifications to this sample roaster, among others the flame level control.
Cerrad receives coffee samples from the farmers after the initial milling at the farm, in which stones and foreign objects are removed and the coffee is hulled. In Brazil they refer to coffee in this state as “Bica Corrida,” which in my best translation is “running spout.” The idea behind the expression being that during the first milling, not much sorting is done and the coffee comes out quickly. Since the coffee has not yet been fully separated to remove and separate the best coffee, Cerrad has their own densimetric table used to further separate the samples. By doing this, not only can they delineate the good lots, they also know the potential of the lots and can have the density and color sorters calibrated accordingly when the coffee these samples represent is separated.
On a Densimetric table, the coffee with lower density goes down and vice-versa. Here Akio removes the lower quality coffee at the bottom of the table. This is why higher-altitude and shade-grown coffee is generally better, since the slower it grows, the denser the coffee bean and the more flavor. Also, many defects detrimentally affect bean density).
Here Akio shows us the results of the separator. To the left is the lower density coffee that has been removed. To the right is the higher density coffee which will now be roasted and cupped. Again, the goal is to test the potential of the sample. If the sample is good, then they can have the corresponding lots in the warehouse reprocessed (rebeneficiado) one or many times to remove negative aspects and have machines recalibrated if necessary.
As I mentioned previously, the purpose of this cupping and all future cuppings is 2-fold. The first is for me to better understand the coffee of the region (in this case Cerrado) examine microclimates within the region, and define on my pallet what a typical Cerrado should taste like. The best analogy I can think of is the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. How can you judge a cocker against a mastiff? Because each has its “ideal form” (I sound like Plato here) and each dog is judged as to how well it approximates that form. The same hold for coffee. One cannot say that an Ethiopian Harrar is objectively better than a Cerrado, however they can say that a Harrar is more “Harrar” than a certain Cerrado is “Cerrado.” So besides sourcing top coffees and establishing relationships with producers, I hope to better understand “Cerrado,” “Mogiana,” “Matas de Minas,” and “Serra da Mantiqueira” etc. The better I understand this, the better I can provide the best coffees to my customers.