My first imagery relating to the word 'cupping' had something to do with the kinds of cups athletes wear to protect their manhood, but this initial picture couldn't have been more wrong. Having never even heard of 'cupping' until a few months ago, I entered Campos Café with slightly ambiguous expectations regarding what exactly I would be doing in a Campos Coffee Cupping Session.
I knew it was something to do with coffee so I was excited nonetheless. I had the vague idea that it was the equivalent of wine tasting for coffee connoisseurs. While I sat waiting for the other participants to arrive, I had a chance to survey the café itself. For one of the bigger names in specialty coffee, I hadn't expected the careful attention to detail that I found throughout the establishment.
Warm red brick walls give a cosy tavern-like feeling to Campos Café. Bustling and full of customers, Campos is obviously a local darling. As I sat watching, I couldn't help but wonder why no one was at work at 10am on a regular Friday morning? I imagine several nearby stores had signs hanging on doors and in windows proclaiming, 'back in 20 min'.
When the other students arrived, the assistant led us out of the café onto the street outside and through the alleyways to the roasting room at the rear of the café. I felt perplexed about being in the roasting room and wondered where we would be doing the cupping? A secret back entry lies mysteriously hidden behind Campos Café. I won't reveal where the entrance lies, you'll have to find out for yourself one day.
Entering the cupping room is like coming into some kind of twilight zone. It has a very Alice in Wonderland, down the rabbit hole feeling which really adds to the magic of the experience. A small, warm room with low lights has an inviting and relaxing atmosphere. Dozens of cups filled with freshly ground coffee send their heady aromas wafting through the room. We gathered around the table bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, waiting expectantly like excited children on their second day of school (the first day being reserved for: crying for your mum and wishing for death). The class is an intimate experience with a maximum of five participants.
The cupping instructor is well versed in the arts of all things coffee and will give you a detailed background on coffee production and selection, while also directing you on how to smell, stir and slurp the six blends of coffee before you. You will be experiencing the ritualistic method used all over the world for sampling and selecting coffee. It is a sneak peek through the veil; a look at what goes on behind the scenes in the world of coffee production.
If you have nodded along while people talk about 'full bodied,' 'peaberry,' and 'single origin' coffee without actually having a clue what they are talking about, then this is the class for you. Learn to recognise flavour distinctions that define different coffee blends. Cupping is an eye opening experience and a must for the coffee connoisseur within you.
Following our educational and inspiring session, we traipsed back into the café to pick out our free take home coffee.
"I'll have the Australian Coffee…" Five words I never thought I would utter by choice regarding coffee. The Australian Mountain Top Estate beans from Nimbin are a surprising blend of perfection from our beloved country. Australia is great at many things but great coffee is not something usually associated with Australian origins. Until now. You will be surprised by this charming blend with all the sass and flavour of your typical Aussie hero.
Considering the class is only $30, including a free take-home 250g coffee of your choice, I really felt I had found a bargain. A culturally enriching experience, without the snooty price tag. Most specialty coffee costs at least 12 dollars for a bag, which means you are really only paying about 18 dollars for the cupping experience! It costs more than that to see a movie these days! So next time you need fresh beans for the grinder why not pay a couple extra dollars and have a unique cupping experience as well?