This article is part of Indianapolis Monthly’s February 2016 Cool Beans coffee package. For more coffee coverage, click here.
If you’ve ever been to a wine tasting, you have a pretty good idea of what to expect from a cupping class: sniffing, swirling, and sipping. At Tinker Coffee Co., you’ll shove your nose down into three cups of beans at different stages and taste the finished products—all while jotting down aromas you detect along the way and learning third-wave coffee lingo. Don’t worry if you’re not accustomed to plumbing the depths of your palate for nuanced notes—the provided flavor wheel should spark some ideas. (“Why, yes, I do taste leather and clove in the El Salvadorean dry-process!”) And even if you never do detect more offbeat scents such as sun-dried tomato or marshmallow, it’s eye-opening to taste how each coffee evolves during the cupping, depicted here:
(1) Learn more about the roaster that preps the beans you’re about to sample, plus brush up on java terminology like wet-process and dry-process (and why coffee nerds care so much about that stuff).
(2) Sniff cups of beans during the whole-bean, ground, and blooming stages. The latter refers to the flavor development that occurs when grounds are submerged in water.
(3) “Spoon” the grounds across the drink’s surface, clearing the way for you to taste. Make like a pro: Abandon your manners and slurp loudly.
(4) Consult the 140-flavor wheel—it may help you pick out scents you didn’t notice at first, from florals and vegetals to spices and grains.
Find a Class
Tinker Coffee Co.
Most Sundays at 11 a.m.; $15 per person. 212 E. 16th St., 770-365-0250
Typically once a month; $5 per person. 725 W. Kirkwood Ave., Bloomington, 812-369-4116