A Coffee Cupping
Some men’s job takes them into this room at Java’s commissary. Here, is Tito Azenga, the bazenga of Java coffee. He’s Java’s Head Master Roaster, started with the brand 22 years ago. Then there’s Mutie Mbalo, Group Head Barista, 18 years on this grind. Over there is Pater Kariuki the Coffee Sales & Quality Manager, 15 years. Then Tolex Tajawuo, the only Maasai in his village who knows more about coffee. He’s a roaster with 10 years. Collectively there is almost 70 years of coffee congregated in the room.
Every month they meet in this room for a coffee cupping (or tasting) session. Before them are about 100, 12gms coffee samples from coffee millers in 200 cups which they have to all agree is good enough to be sold in their cafes. Nobody leaves the room until they agree. And no fighting, or sulking if your preferred coffee isn’t picked.
There is a lot walking up and down the high working top, smelling of dry aroma and smelling of wet aroma & studying the quality of the coffee beans. A lot of cupping the cups of to the face with eyes closed, smelling the aroma of the coffee, the soil it came from, the rainfall and sunshine it had and the love and toil of its farmer. The room fills with the sweet smell or roasted almonds and peanuts.
Then comes the slurping; scoop spoonful, slurp it, swirl it, spit it, record on a form. And banter. Sometimes politics sips in the banter because we are Kenyans. They josh. They laugh. They spit. They talk coffee.
Later, they review. Tito says, “1501 was a C for me.” Or Mutie says “2109 was a bit dirty for me.” They all agree or disagree to buy because palates are different. Good coffee is citrus in nature, you will learn. Many hours later, they will have decided on which coffee to buy from which millers and a different process will start which will end up with a barista at the branch making you a fresh cup of coffee.
Happy #InternationalCoffeeDay #JavaLove