“If you don’t write it down, it didn’t happen.”
This pearl of wisdom was spoken by Joe Marrocco during the first cupping class my wife and I attended at Coffee Fest in New York, now almost three years ago. Back then I was just getting into specialty coffee, learning everything I possibly could, and although we weren’t taking notes during our introductory class, those words stuck with me.
Yet, here I am… no notes, no journals, nothing… just vague memories of a month filled with excellent coffee, which I can in no way hope to describe. That photo up top, the Kenya Mugaya from Kuma Coffee? That was over a month ago and I couldn’t tell you anything about it. I remember enjoying it, and that was around the time I started to move away from French Press and back to my favored pour-overs, but what did the coffee actually taste like? I don’t remember.
The same goes for this Ethiopia Guji from Square One, my most recent delivery from Mistobox. One of many Ethiopian coffees we tried last month, it was used up after a handful of batch brews in the Bonavita, and anything truly special was lost on my continually declining palate. Nice design on the bag, though, and one of my favorite things about Mistobox: trying new roasters for the first time.
My other full-bag monthly subscription, Crema.co, delivered this excellent selection from Onyx Coffee Lab. Probably the one coffee that stood out the most, this Ethiopia Hambela Buku was bright and fruity, brought memories of previous Onyx roasts that blew me away and left me wanting more.
But even a coffee that stuck in my head is now left to the most generic descriptors, and I know there was more going on in the cup. Remember when I used to taste coffee? Remember when I got out the cupping gear and slurped my way to more specific flavor notes? Family life grew too busy for such an extensive coffee hobby, but I need to find a better way to enjoy the beautiful beans that allows time for focus.
I know, we really did drink almost nothing but Ethiopia last month… But this Yirgacheffe Banko Dhadhato from Vashon Coffee Company really shined in my October Bean Box, so I brought in a full bag to get a second (and third, etc.) taste. It was beautiful, what you might expect from any good Yirg, and it may have been my wife’s favorite among our morning batch brews.
Last time I shared the very first Box Set from The Department of Brewology, and this was the second edition, featuring The Barn Coffee Roasters from Berlin. It may be the first time I’ve had coffee roasted outside the US, and I loved the information cards included with the bag, English on one side, German on the other.
The coffee was a special microlot from Guatemala, a washed Caturra produced by Misael Rodriguez. It was interesting, very clean and crisp, but complex such that I could not pick out any specific flavor notes. I found it highly enjoyable, but it was a perfect example of how badly I need to practice tasting coffee. After all, I’m competing once again in the Flight of Fancy contest from Populace Coffee, and that starts this week! (more on that later…)
So it’s time to start writing stuff down.
I need to get back to my daily coffee journal, and I need to taste more coffee with other people and calibrate. There is hardly any point in sharing these bags of coffee with you, dear reader, when I have almost nothing to say about them due to my own lack of care in preparation and taste. If I’m going to continue writing about coffee, which I do enjoy, I need to record my thoughts and impressions daily.
Perhaps by next year I will have a new system in place for taking notes, but for now I’m going to make it as simple as possible and just start. Readers: do any of you take notes about your coffee experiences? If so, I’d love to hear what details you choose to include and what you focus on the most.