Benji is what you might call a coffee entrepreneur and he is taking his passion for coffee and introducing informal cupping sessions in a workshop space above his bustling café, for everyday coffee lovers.
I must preface this by saying that this is not an opportunity to have free cups of barista coffee. You'd be disappointed if you sign up with this expectation. Like a wine tasting course, the purpose of the workshop is education and appreciation. Benji's role is to expose you to a variety of flavours, with the aim of 'tasting', not drinking.
I personally love coffee and you could call me a mid-level coffee snob as I don't like instant and I know if my latte is burnt. I soon discovered though, that I know very little about great coffee and what it takes to make it. But what I do understand now is that it is all about the quality of the coffee bean. Not the roasted coffee bean we all know but the original green coffee bean that comes from the farm. Not all green beans are created equal and it is fascinating to learn the labour-intensive process of weeding out the defective beans from the pristine.
Coffee expert Benji Salim measuring the perfect testing amount of roasted coffee beans into each cup
Allow up to 1.5 hours for your session and in that time, you can expect to be drawn in by Benji's enthusiasm as an ambassador for Indonesian coffee, with the fascinating story of the socially responsible Toarco Toraja Coffee farm in Sulawesi, unique throughout the world for its rigorous quality control measures.
You will 'cup' coffee from three Indonesian coffee regions, alongside some of the best Brazilian specialty coffees. The process of preparing the roasted coffee beans for cupping is fascinating and Benji invites participants to get involved from grinding the coffee beans to "breaking" (smelling the aroma) and "slurping" (tasting) the coffee blends in each of the cups, to contrast and compare the qualities.
Time to taste the coffee! Let the Cupping Begin...
I can see Benji's plans for coffee education and promotion taking off amongst the Sydney coffee set. Tasting courses have been done for so long in the world of prestige wines, it is almost a surprise that coffee cupping courses have not caught on before now. So, if you've ever wanted to know more about what distinguishes commercial-grade coffee from specialty-grade, why not sign up for one of Benji's cupping sessions, with a group of friends? You are sure to come away with even more of an appreciation of why you can't live without that daily dose of caffeine heaven.