The cupper's slurp and another protocol query

growing, harvesting, processing, cupping, purchasing

The cupper's slurp and another protocol query

Postby Andi Trindle on Fri Sep 14, 2007 6:21 pm

I hope there isn't a discussion about this already, but I couldn't find it in a search. I have developed a pet peeve at the cupping table and I'm actually hoping to be educated about why there might be value, so that I can start to move past it. I have a really hard time when cuppers whistle loudly (and at a high pitch) as they slurp. I find it extremely distracting to my own concentration and literally feel my body tighten and my mind go to my response to the sound, rather than to my response to the coffee. I wish it were not true but it is my reality at the cupping table.

Is there a valid reason for whistling as we slurp? I fully understand the reasons behind a vigorous slurp, which I to try to employ, but I'm entirely unable to whistle (in any way shape or form), so I've been unable to test for myself what the difference might be. Does anyone know if it is a valid technique or if it is just a stylistic choice? I have noticed that this is much more common in cuppers from Latin America, who have been more recently trained in cupping through programs like Star cuppers. Because I have not yet taken the Q Grader Test and I've just been doing it for a number of years without "test" (which I believe in and intend to do), I wonder if I've missed some training?

One last protocol question. This one may actually be more of a commentary. Is there a valid reason why I see many (and I mean many) cuppers barely dipping their spoon into the rinse water (it's almost like a dab of the tip of the spoon only), rather than actually rinsing the spoon? I've always understood (and teach) that the goal is to clean your spoon of any coffee from the previous cup, which makes it important to fully rinse the spoon. As I watch people at the table, though, I often feel that this is not what is happening and it is more of a show. Are we really supposed to be cleaning our spoons or not?

Best wishes,
Andi

Please forgive any small typos caused by the necessity of utilizing voice dictation.
Andi Trindle
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 7:51 am
Location: San Francisco

Postby trish on Fri Sep 14, 2007 9:46 pm

In the last year or so, my slurp has gotten quite loud actually...sorry.
Not sure how or why, but I was cupping a lot last year with Brazilians and some Japanese. It wasn't like I was trying to get louder, but I noticed that they tended to incorporate more air when they opened their mouths a bit more than I had been doing.
As I practiced this technique, the "spray" got better in my mouth- coffee was hitting all parts of my mouth instead of landing as a few plops on just my tongue.

But now I am much louder than my buddies (almost a whistle) , and sometimes I have to apologize for it. Some folks I hang with are used to it, but I think they're barely tolerating it.

I do dip my spoon all the way, but I have the bad habit of shaking off the water drops just anywhere. In fact, I noticed today that I tend to just shake them on to the table next to the rinse cup. Funny you should post this topic, Andi, because today I was thinking that I probably really bug other people during cuppings.
Trish D. Rothgeb
trish
 
Posts: 263
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 7:16 am
Location: Redwood City, CA
full name: Trish D. Rothgeb
company: Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters
: wreckingballcoffee.com

Postby Jim Schulman on Sat Sep 15, 2007 12:34 pm

I've seen what looks like "I can slurp louder than you" at some cupping tables. Adding a whistle there would make you the winner.
Jim Schulman
coffeecuppers.com
Jim Schulman
 
Posts: 265
Joined: Tue Apr 11, 2006 10:56 am
Location: Chicago

Postby tonx on Sat Sep 15, 2007 3:47 pm

trish wrote:I do dip my spoon all the way, but I have the bad habit of shaking off the water drops just anywhere. In fact, I noticed today that I tend to just shake them on to the table next to the rinse cup.


K.C. O'Keefe cured me of this habit by showing me a useful trick. After rinsing let the edge of the spoon drag across the edge of the cup pausing briefly as it exits. Surface tension will take care of the rest.

Image
tonx
 
Posts: 144
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2005 5:28 pm
Location: United States
full name: tony konecny
company: tonx.org

Postby Matt Riddle on Sat Sep 15, 2007 6:07 pm

i give the spoon one swift shake behind down at my side, effectively whipping any remaining water onto the floor.

i don't slurp too loud or whistle, but then i'm not the best cupper in the world either.
Matt Riddle
Intelligeesta
Matt Riddle
 
Posts: 204
Joined: Mon Apr 17, 2006 6:48 am
Location: Chicago, IL
full name: Matt Riddle
company: Intelligentsia Coffee
: http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com

Postby trish on Sat Sep 15, 2007 6:19 pm

Matt Riddle wrote:i give the spoon one swift shake behind down at my side, effectively whipping any remaining water onto the floor.


yeah, I do that too.

some folks do a knock knock on a napkin next to the rinse cup, but that can get a little loud too.
I'm thinking about adjusting my slurp for domestic situations...use the loud one only in other whistlers' company.
Trish D. Rothgeb
trish
 
Posts: 263
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 7:16 am
Location: Redwood City, CA
full name: Trish D. Rothgeb
company: Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters
: wreckingballcoffee.com

Postby Andi Trindle on Sat Sep 15, 2007 6:42 pm

Ah, Trish, I wouldn't want to have someone change something that really works for them. Feel free to whistle around me anytime. I can get over my pet peeves as long as I know there is purpose. Although I asked the question with real sincerity, I confess a part of me was suspicious that the whistle was just a matter of showing off how loud one could slurp and I have been fearful that newer cuppers were being trained in this practice without real purpose. I figured if it was just a competitive practice maybe I could get the entire world to stop doing it through this simple post. Yeah, I'm likely to influence the world. . . . :-) I trust your experience as a taster and if the whistle is really about a better tasting experience for the person doing it, then I can accept that my reaction to it is my problem and I have to get over it. Dang it! Maybe I'll just have a shot of whiskey before I go to the cupping table. Is that good protocol? :-)
Andi Trindle
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 7:51 am
Location: San Francisco

Postby trish on Sun Sep 16, 2007 12:03 pm

Proper protocol is whiskey and a cigar before cupping. Alternatively, you can eat a few sour patch kids if you aren't a drinker or smoker.

I used to think that baristas that threw their elbows out all dramatically while leveling the pf was all for show...then I thought it was best to just let them do their thing.
There was a kid in the early 90's that worked the bar at Cafe Trieste. We called him "blue eyes". He did everything for show and admitted it. He was so much fun to watch. He'd knock out the puck and the pf would fly up in the air and spin - then he'd catch it like a batton.


Seriously, though. Try taking more air by opening your mouth a bit. This is the position my mouth makes for drinking cappuccino also. Concentrate on the spray hitting your whole mouth. You'll begin to sound more like a zipper, and you may get a whistle too.
Trish D. Rothgeb
trish
 
Posts: 263
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 7:16 am
Location: Redwood City, CA
full name: Trish D. Rothgeb
company: Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters
: wreckingballcoffee.com

Postby SL28ave on Sun Sep 16, 2007 12:24 pm

Sometimes I feel like by not slurping I distract other cuppers. :?
-Peter Lynagh
SL28ave
 
Posts: 326
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2005 6:27 am
Location: MD
full name: Peter Lynagh
company: student

Postby Andi Trindle on Sun Sep 16, 2007 1:58 pm

I certainly believe in and practice slurping with a vigorous slurp, but maybe I can try more air still. I fully understand the need to spray different areas of the tongue and to engage retro nasal activity. My initial question was strictly about the high-pitched whistle and whether that was necessary, since it can be disconcerting . . . at least for me.

Now that I understand that the infamous whistle is indeed part of a useful technique for some tasters, I'm going to learn to live with it without complaint. I don't know if I will try to find my own whistle, though; I understand all too well how it may be disconcerting to someone else at the table. Besides, I've been trying to whistle for 3o years to no avail. I doubt it can happen even if it were to improve my tasting skills.

Best wishes,
Andi

Please forgive any small typos caused by the necessity of utilizing voice dictation.
Andi Trindle
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 7:51 am
Location: San Francisco

Postby aaronblanco on Sun Sep 16, 2007 7:56 pm

tonx wrote:K.C. O'Keefe cured me of this habit by showing me a useful trick. After rinsing let the edge of the spoon drag across the edge of the cup pausing briefly as it exits. Surface tension will take care of the rest.


I like that one. A drag is usually better than a tap.

I usually put a couple doubled over paper towels/napkins next to the rinse bowl in case you just want to quickly dab your spoon dry before the next coffee.

As for whistles, I notice some people slurp through their teeth while others open the lips and create a pocket. The teeth method seems to be more whistle like to me.
Aaron Blanco, Invincible Coffee Spirit
aaronblanco
 
Posts: 264
Joined: Sat Dec 03, 2005 8:33 pm
Location: San Antonio, TX
full name: Aaron Blanco
company: The Brown Coffee Company
: browncoffeeco.com
: Twitter: @browncoffeeco

Postby Edwin Martinez on Mon Sep 17, 2007 12:21 am

I am NOT a mechanic in the least, but have understood fuel injection in many cases to be like a screen that mistifies (turns liquid fuel into a mist) so it is more instantaneously explosive. This is not just about more horsepower, but more accuracy and efficiency. Getting the fuel in it's most effective form quickly and evenly where it is most usefull.

I think of the "whistle" as a result of a great mistification.

Lets say you slurp and the coffee touches the front of your tongue FIRST.. then if this is a pronounced or at all overpowering trait it will hinder you're ability for the other parts of your tongue to effectively do their job.

However if you do whistle and create a great mist but your tongue is jammed forward rather than laying low it defeats the purpose.

I see this whistling as a part of what one can do to get the coffee simultaneously and equally all over the tongue just like fuel injection.

Speaking of nasty habits, I was using this drag technique during Q grader exams in Long Beach last year... but was not carefull enough to avoid a KLINK when my spoon touched the rinse glass. Every time I did this and Genevieve from Orins Daily Roast gave me a nasty look. And then I realized she probably wasn't the only one I was anoying. The learning never ends.
Edwin D. Martinez
Edwin Martinez
 
Posts: 157
Joined: Thu Oct 27, 2005 6:40 pm
Location: Bellingham,WA/Guatemala

Postby trish on Mon Sep 17, 2007 7:13 am

http://www.coffeeresearch.org/exprinsulcupping.mpg

...can't find the lil film of Silvio Leite, but this is another Brazilian doing the zipper sound.
Trish D. Rothgeb
trish
 
Posts: 263
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2005 7:16 am
Location: Redwood City, CA
full name: Trish D. Rothgeb
company: Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters
: wreckingballcoffee.com

Postby John Gozbekian on Mon Sep 17, 2007 7:28 am

Andi,

I Aspire to be able to slurp like the Brazilians.
For me it is actually quite the opposite of distracting. It reminds me to get a better distribution over my palate and pump more into my nose. The few times I have been able to get close to the whistle slurp I have been able to get more retro-basally than my usual slurp.

On the other hand, I am one of those, probably in your presence, to not dip completely or at all between cups. During the break, YES, ALWAYS, but I get lazy at other times. I will do better now that I am one of those you called to the carpet.

MY pet peeve during cuppings is the distraction of conversation, especially about the coffees being cupped. Even sounds of approval or rejection. It is influential to the other cuppers and a generally distracting and keeps total focus away form the task at hand.
John Gozbekian
John Gozbekian
 
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Sep 04, 2007 7:19 pm
Location: Phoenix, AZ
full name: John Gozbekian
company: Coffee Reserve Brands
: http://www.coffeereserve.com/

Postby Sean Starke on Wed Sep 19, 2007 10:54 am

A good healthy slurp aids in the dispersion across the full palate and helps you smell the coffee as you taste it. Anyone who demands silence in the cupping room would quite frankly be better served by purchasing some ExLax, it seems to me.

We're cupping coffee people, not having the soup course at La Cote Basque with the Pope.

Cleaning the spoon betwixt coffees, or not cleaning, rather, is certainly something I'm guilty of. A lot of times it depends what's on the table. If there are 8 different container samples of the same quality then I usually won't bother cleaning between samples unless one throws a real nasty cup. If there are different coffees on the table then I try to clean my spoon with a paper towel between...but often I get lazy and don't.
Sean Starke
Coffee America (USA) Corp.
Sean Starke
 
Posts: 210
Joined: Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:39 am
Location: New York, NY

Postby Andi Trindle on Wed Sep 19, 2007 11:12 am

Since I started the thread, given the last comment, I just want make sure that nobody thinks I ever was asking for silence of normal cupping sounds in the cupping room. Of course not. Like all trained cuppers, I know (and I practice) that we have to slurp loudly and vigorously to coat our palates and activate the aromatics. My point was always simply about the particular high-pitched whistle, which is unique to certain cuppers and not practiced by most cuppers. It is a very specific, unique sound in the cupping room and, if you haven't heard it, it is different than normal, even very vigorous, slurping and spitting.

Re: not cleaning the spoons, isn't that a problem though? Aren't you worried that you will be carrying coffee from one sample to the next? It really doesn't take very long to clean a spoon between each sample.

By the way, I practiced the KC O'Keefe method, recommended above with the great picture. It works like a charm.

Best wishes,
Andi

Please forgive any small typos created by voice dictation.
Andi Trindle
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 7:51 am
Location: San Francisco

Re: The cupper's slurp and another protocol query

Postby SL28ave on Wed Sep 19, 2007 11:17 am

Andi Trindle wrote:One last protocol question. This one may actually be more of a commentary. Is there a valid reason why I see many (and I mean many) cuppers barely dipping their spoon into the rinse water (it's almost like a dab of the tip of the spoon only), rather than actually rinsing the spoon? I've always understood (and teach) that the goal is to clean your spoon of any coffee from the previous cup, which makes it important to fully rinse the spoon. As I watch people at the table, though, I often feel that this is not what is happening and it is more of a show. Are we really supposed to be cleaning our spoons or not?


Just noticed this question...

I doubt cross-contamination of a drop would affect my score; a drop probably being less than l% of a spoonful, and less than .1% of the cup... and usually amongst coffees of the same peer group. If I were cupping coffees of different peer groups, then I'd always rinse the spoon thoroughly. I wouldn't be surprised if I was cupping in El Sal with you and absentmindedly (perhaps being *too* focused) forgot to rinse the spoon altogether. But, I firmly believe everyone should rinse their spoons out of respect for each other. We should all assume there are plenty of more sensitive tasters than ourselves out there.
-Peter Lynagh
SL28ave
 
Posts: 326
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2005 6:27 am
Location: MD
full name: Peter Lynagh
company: student

Re: The cupper's slurp and another protocol query

Postby SL28ave on Wed Sep 19, 2007 4:04 pm

SL28ave wrote:I doubt cross-contamination of a drop would affect my score; a drop probably being less than l% of a spoonful, and less than .1% of the cup...


Oh yeah, PROVE IT! :evil:

I'll try to test my assumption.
-Peter Lynagh
SL28ave
 
Posts: 326
Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2005 6:27 am
Location: MD
full name: Peter Lynagh
company: student

Postby Andi Trindle on Wed Sep 19, 2007 9:28 pm

Let me know how the research goes.

By the way, I didn't notice you not dipping your spoon in El Salvador. I'll watch you more closely next time. . . . :shock:
Andi Trindle
 
Posts: 32
Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2007 7:51 am
Location: San Francisco

Postby Sean Starke on Thu Sep 20, 2007 2:56 am

Aw heck, Andi; a lot of us practice the high pitched whistle but we're awfully frustrated because we can't do it! :lol: I'm going to Brazil next month and I will once again be humiliated by the sound of my loud 'sklurp' standing out like a sore thumb amongst all the whistles.

Yep, once again "find the gringo in the cupping room" will prove to be no challenge...
Sean Starke
Coffee America (USA) Corp.
Sean Starke
 
Posts: 210
Joined: Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:39 am
Location: New York, NY

Postby David Kastle on Thu Sep 20, 2007 10:24 am

RE: cross-contamination - part of the reason for multiple cups from one lot is that you are looking for consistency within a lot. If you carry a drop or two from cup to cup, you will still pick up taints/defects/character etc, but you also may be obscuring subtle differences. The same goes for cupping multiple lots of similar coffees.
David Kastle
 
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon May 21, 2007 4:26 am
Location: Seattle WA
full name: David Kastle
company: Swiss Water Decaffeinated Coffee Co USA
: www.swisswater.com

Postby K.C. O'Keefe on Sat Sep 29, 2007 10:23 am

Great Topic Andi,

Irritations at the cupping table are a reality. I think the question is: how can we develop habits which are the most effective and the least distraction to others? Call it part of cupping manners.

The Jack Hammer of the spoon on the table after the dip is distracting to the point of irritating for me; then there's the whip of the spoon onto the table, floor, wall or MY LEG which kills my concentration. Needless whipping of drops everywhere (and extra clean up). I think we just get so excited that we forget what were doing . . . and the sliding of the spoon up the side of the dip cup can be done with zero noise, you can watch the water actually wick off your spoon to the point of being almost completely dry. If you want more wicking you can wait for a second with the spoon standing vertically on the edge of the cup. (thanks for mentioning Tony).

Sorry to say it but I've made this spoon slide a requirement in all the courses I've taught, and have banned whipping and jack hammering . . . so if your cupping in Peru please be on your best behavior :)

I also think it is worthy to mention the towel (paper or cotton) cleaning of the spoon after each dip. Many Japanese friends employ this, and after practicing it a bit I found it didn't really take that much longer. Zero noise.

The other thing I find repulsively distracting is the spit cup being placed on the table and then lining up of the head over the bulls eye to drop the bomb of saliva just inches away from that precious 90+ cup! . . . sometimes with an unintended germ filled splash :( Another point of absolute condemnation for my students in Peru.
K.C. O'Keefe
Cafe Verde
K.C. O'Keefe
 
Posts: 46
Joined: Wed May 17, 2006 4:50 am
Location: Lima Peru, Seattle
full name: K.C. O'Keefe
company: Cafe Verde
: http://www.cafeverdeperu.com
: http://blog.cafeverdeperu.com/

Postby Klaus on Sun Sep 30, 2007 6:04 am

I'm not easily irritated by other peoples procedures during a cupping, but at the Nordic Barista Cup I noticed one person repeatedly placing his cupping spoon in his spit cup and not rinsing it before going to the next cup. :shock: Uck!

Klaus Thomsen
The Coffee Collective
Blog here
Klaus
 
Posts: 197
Joined: Fri Sep 30, 2005 5:13 am
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
full name: Klaus Thomsen
company: The Coffee Collective
: http://www.coffeecollective.dk
: http://coffeecollective.blogspot.com

Postby Sean Starke on Mon Oct 01, 2007 3:12 am

blech! :shock:
Sean Starke
Coffee America (USA) Corp.
Sean Starke
 
Posts: 210
Joined: Mon Sep 18, 2006 5:39 am
Location: New York, NY


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest