The World’s Largest Cupping Tasting (WLCT)

It’s been a year since Square Mile Coffee Roasters launched their first WLCT event, which then became a huge thing in global coffee community. I’m glad that they keep it coming as an annual event by releasing the second edition this year with more remarkable coffees in their usual well-prepared style. Congratulations to Square Mile Coffee Roasters team for a successful fundraising campaign, which has brought over $35,000 to World Coffee Research!

If this is the first time you hear about the World’s Largest Cupping Tasting, please find out how it works here: “Quick note: the World’s Largest Cupping“. To actually see how James did it this year with full information of each coffee sample, click on the video below:

And if you’re ready to hear our experience with the 5 coffee samples this year, keep reading this post and leave me a comment because I want to hear about your tasting, too!

Before starting, I would love to thank The 22 Coffee for hosting our cupping session, Intenso Coffee Roasters for sponsoring us cupping bowls and spoons, Sung and Quoc-Anh for supporting me with pictures and logistics, and all attendees for spending their beautiful Tuesday morning with NestinCity.

As usual, the water used for WLCT is a mixture of 3.8l distilled water and 1 sachet of Third Wave Mineral Supplement. Once we have the same coffee, the same cupping recipe and the same water, it doesn’t matter where you are on earth, we’re on the same page to start.

Move the line in between pictures to see the difference

Those shot glasses that you’re seeing in the picture are for tasting, which is usually functioned by cupping spoons. Due to the complicated progress of the Covid-19 disease, I believe we should be pro-active in preventing any chance of cross-contamination. That’s why I decided to apply Modified SCA Cupping Protocol in our WLCT this year. You can easily download a printable PDF file of this protocol by following this link and choose your own language, or click the download button below for English version:

Here are our results:

SAMPLE A: LA BOLSA (GUATEMALA)

Quoc-Anh highly appreciates this coffee, saying that “the beginning is not extraordinary but the coffee taste better over time. Other samples impressed me with an interesting start, but the quality is fading after a few minutes.” His taste notes are: nutty at first with a strong smell of sea water (which is why he guessed it was Central American coffee), complex flavor, body becoming thicker gradually with a nice fizzy/sparkling texture, lingering sweet aftertaste.

In contrast, Sung and Duy think the coffee has short aftertaste with medium body and sweetness. Most of us find the acidity high/bright but Duy believes it’s more of tangy and dry. While Nam recognizes a clear dried fruit flavor and hazelnut aroma , Chuong find notes of curacao and green tea leaf in the sample.

SAMPLE B: EL VENDAVAL (COSTA RICA)

Honestly, most of us cannot recognize many characteristics of this coffee. It’s complex but it’s also hard to name. While Duy detects a note of pear and banana, Quoc-Anh finds it more of chocolaty with a bit floral. It has high acidity, medium body and long sweetness, but also powdery mouthfeel which gave us an unpleasant finish.

SAMPLE C: ARICHA (ETHIOPIA)

I seem to be the only one who vote this sample to win. The reason behind my action is its consistency between aroma and flavors. They’re the same. It smells like bergamot and it tastes like bergamot, which is impressive and praiseworthy. Beside, it opens with winey acidity and closes with a hint of tannin (like grape skin). Duy can also find elderflower aroma with juicy body and high acidity in it. According to Nam, it’s not difficult for him to recognize this is Ethiopian coffee, thanks to its lime-like flavor going with citrus acidity and lemongrass aroma.

However, the majority agree that its flavors are quite volatile and gone quickly.

SAMPLE D: REFISA (ETHIOPIA)

According to 5 our of 7 attendees, this sample caught their most attention. They all agree that the coffee owns a transparent ripe fruit flavor, high and smooth acidity, juicy body and cleanliness. Nevertheless, each person has a different description of how the coffee approach them.

To Duy, the fragrance is like roasted almond with a hint of berry and vanilla. When it comes to taste, he found apricot, lemon and long finish. Quoc-Anh’s experience, in the other hand, is more of a ladder of tones: the first step is soursop and floral, then something yellow like lemon, following with red berries and it ends with orange. To Chuong, dried black currant is a better demonstration of this coffee while Trung discovers a ripe grape flavor with an earthy nuance.

SAMPLE E: KAWERI TURACO (ROBUSTA UGANDA)

I’m quite proud to say that, putting Robusta in an Arabica cupping session may cause a little confusion or underestimation to many people, but not us. Our domestic market has been dominated by Robusta coffee in such a way that its distinct heavy body, strong peanut-y and bitterness can’t bother us during the cupping.

Fairly speaking, this sample is smooth and well roasted. A scent of roasted chestnut, nice malty flow, high sugar browning sweetness with a touch of fruity and herbal flower are usually found in good Robusta and we truly appreciate it.

That’s what we got from WLCT event this year, how about you?

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