Full Cup Flavor: The Buzz About Pennsylvania’s Newest Coffee Roaster

Today’s article is about Full Cup Flavor, a new specialty coffee roaster in Pennsylvania that focuses on providing the finest specialty coffee from around the world and offering clients an awesome educational experience. An in-the-know friend connected me to these two entrepreneurs, explaining how I just had to drop everything and schedule a coffee cupping.

A what?

So let’s back up a second. I love coffee. I prefer to drink mine as is, with no cream or sugar, and I consume copious amounts of it throughout every single day. It wasn’t until I was in college that I really started to drink coffee on a regular basis. Maybe it was those late nights followed by 8 AM classes, but somehow, I got hooked on the dark brown drink. Since then, I’ve been drinking coffee nonstop, but I recently realized how little I knew about the process. How are coffee beans grown? How do roasting times, temperatures and techniques change the flavor of the end result? What the heck is a Chemex and should I be using it?

The answers all came from a Sunday morning coffee cupping with Full Cup Flavor.

A coffee cupping, also known as coffee tasting, is the practice of smelling and tasting coffee in all of its forms, from whole bean to ground to brewed. Full Cup Flavor offers coffee cuppings by sending samples of different coffee types and blends over post to anyone who is interested in learning more about their morning cup of Joe. John and I stopped by a few Sundays ago to try this experience out, and I took a few photos to share the experience with you.

Fast Facts About Coffee

If you needed any more reason to brew a cup of coffee, it’s this: It is estimated that drinking 3 to 5 cups of coffee each day can lengthen our lifespans. A 2009 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that greater coffee consumption (caffeinated and non-caffeinated) was linked with a lower risk of acquiring the disease. According to the March of Dimes, even pregnant women can safely enjoy up to 200 milligrams of caffeine, roughly one or two cups of home-brewed coffee, though less than even the smallest Starbucks option. Higher consumptions of coffee is associated with decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease and liver cancer.

Coffee beans are actually the seeds of a cherry-like fruit. These fruits grow on trees and are hand picked. Yes, your coffee was hand picked, fruit by fruit, as the fruits on each tree limb can ripen at various rates, so there’s no automation process. Each coffee tree produces about 1 pound of coffee beans. Talk about a labor intensive product!

The seeds inside the fruit (the coffee beans) are actually an odd color of green and only turn brown after roasting. As with many products, beans of high quality can be roasted for a shorter amount of time. “Dark roast” often relates to coffee beans that may not have been as high of quality to begin with and are roasted longer to mask any imperfections within the coffee. This changes everything for John and I, because we always chose dark roasted beans thinking we were getting a heavier flavor within the coffee, but that is not the case at all.

What’s interesting to note is that all coffee trees originated from Ethiopia before they spread to other parts of the world such as Mexico, Columbia, Kenya, and Guatemala. Each of Full Cup Flavor’s bags explains not only where the beans were sourced, but offers tasting notes and as much information as possible that can help you to determine which coffee is right for you.

A Coffee Cupping
There are dozens of ways to brew coffee at home (Chemex, V60, and aeropress, just to name a few), but before you learn the differences between them, you should understand where coffee beans originate, how they are harvested, and how their region affects their taste. This is where the coffee cupping at Full Cup Flavor comes in. Not yet fully available to the general public but we were lucky enough to be a part of it.

A coffee cupping at Full Cup Flavor consists of:
  • Smelling whole coffee beans
  • Learning about how coffee beans are sourced and how each regions are different (Kenyan, Ethiopian, ex)
  • Smelling freshly ground coffee beans
  • Experiencing a coffee bloom and breaking the crust
  • Tasting the coffee
  • Basic explanation of coffee brewing methods

This experience is something I would do over and over again. Unfortunately, the service is not yet publicly available, but I hope it is a matter of time. It is a similar process to learning about wine and beer, where you smell and taste the individual ingredients so you can understand why the end product is the way it is.

John and I participated in Full Cup Flavor’s first official coffee cupping with one more couple and it took about two hours, but that’s because we walked through the roasting process, brewing methods, and we asked a lot of questions. The process felt informative but casual, and I felt at home as I smelled and sipped my way through four different varieties.

John is the one who sets up the coffee maker in the morning and he picks out all of the coffee we drink each week unless I bring home something from a trip or an event I’ve been to. While I drink my fair share of it, he’s the one who really pays the most attention to what we are drinking. Here he is seen smelling coffee grounds by cupping them near his face, allowing the gasses to build up in them to increase the potency.

After each of the three coffees we were smelling were ground, hot water (200 degrees) is slowly poured into each cup, allowing a crust to form on the top. It settles for five minutes before we break the crust.

What I found to be the most exciting part of the coffee cupping was breaking the crust. Using two spoons, the crust is carefully scooped up and discarded, all while holding your nose as close to the cup as possible. Then, using the spoons, you slurp the coffee, creating some air while you taste the coffee all throughout your mouth. It’s the one moment in life where it’s OK to make noises while you slurp some coffee. Here you can see Michael’s demonstrating the proper method.

Michael and Mario are great at walking you through the coffee cupping process, answering questions and making the experience it just as interactive as it is informative.

Full Cup Flavor’s beans can be purchased online at accepting virtually any payment method thinkable. They are currently offering multiple blends: Ethiopia, Kenya, Indonesia, India, Mexico, Columbia, Guatemalan and many more.

To sum it all up I would say it is a sweet feeling when you turn a bit of an expert in the coffee matters. And as the old saying goes “Once you get a taste there is no going back” Good luck!

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