All of our coffees are good. Some of them are amazing. We only buy coffee we like, so every one of our coffees, be it a single origin, a blend or a decaf, is delicious. Our customers, though, sometimes ask for our “best” coffee. Which of our good coffees is the best?
The easiest answer is the coffee with the highest cupping score. “Cupping” is a coffee industry term for “tasting.” Like wine, coffee is graded for different qualities, flavor, body, mouthfeel, finish, etc. A perfect score is 100, with the top 2% of coffee scoring 85 or higher. All of our coffees are in that top 2%, but the highest cupping score goes to Ecuador Cotopaxi at 92+.
Ecuador Cotopaxi is a wonderful coffee. It's everything a coffee should be, rich, sweet, soft and silky on the tongue and has just enough lively notes to make each sip refreshing as well as satisfying.
The problem is, when folks ask for the “best” coffee, they're not interested in a score. They want to know which coffee they'll enjoy the most. That's a more difficult question to answer, because we all have different favorites.
My favorite is light roasted Ethiopia Yirgacheffe Lake Abaya. I just love Lake Abaya's sweet flavor and lively floral notes, particularly since they're balanced by a rich, lingering finish.
Paul, though, much prefers naturally processed coffee. As much as he enjoys both the Ecuador and the Ethiopian, his favorite is the naturally processed Bali Kintamani, roasted to a Vienna roast level to bring out the coffee's complex sweetness.
Each of our cupping team has his or her favorite coffee, their own, personal “best.” There was one year, though, our first year, when we all had the same favorite, a coffee that scored higher and tasted better than any coffee we've been able to find since, an amazing microlot coffee from Panama.
Next time on Ask the Roaster: The best coffee we ever had...and lost.