Cupping Coffee in Guatemala with Black Rifle Coffee Company

August 28, 2020Michael R. Shea
Coffee or Die Photo

The Coffee Crew from BRCC is back with the second installment of their hunt for Lava Panther — September’s upcoming ECS power coffee. This latest CAF Life video shows some killer behind the scenes footage of what it takes to find, grade, and buy the very best coffee beans in the world.

After a five-hour death race from Guatemala City to Sololá on the shores of Lake Atitlán in the Guatemalan rainforest, the crew treks into the mountains to an exclusive coffee co-op, where 150 local farmers bring their very best coffee beans for sale and distribution. The goal of these BRCC origin trips is to find world-class hidden coffee varieties and bring them back to the BRCC tribe.

The ECS coffee “has to be so much different from what our customers typically get,” said Evan Hafer, BRCC CEO, while touring the farms. “We’re making adjustments to show people what coffee really is. You have to educate people along the way.”

Much of these trips center around cupping coffee. This esoteric, old-school practice has more in common with wine tasting than the drive-thru chain coffee so many Americans are accustomed to.

Different local coffees are ground and steeped in 200-degree water. At the four-minute mark, testers “break the crust” by pushing back the floating coffee grounds while breathing in the wet aroma, noting any fragrances detected. The grounds are removed, the coffee cools for about 15 minutes, and then the testers sample it. This isn’t a sip, but a slurp to bring the aroma into the lungs while drinking — as is the process for tasting and scoring fine wine.

“This is a quick way to evaluate coffee,” said Edwin Parnell, BRCC roaster and licensed coffee grader. “Much like beer, much like wine, it’s a way to do quality control.”

And, as you’ll see, it’s a good reason to roll around with a 24-karat gold spoon in your fanny pack. There is no quicker way to impress the locals in coffee country than by rocking the gold spoon.

Michael R. Shea
Michael R. Shea

Shea is the senior editor at Free Range American, plus an itinerant freelancer for USA Today and  Men’s Journal, among others. In July 2021, Gun Digest published his first book, Rimfire Revolution: A Complete Guide to Modern .22 Rifles. He holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from Columbia University. He once tanned a deer hide in an apartment bathroom. His wife was not pleased.

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