Expert cupper at BKI samples 300 cups of coffee a day to ensure the flavor of your favorite coffee
Casper Rasmussen is the expert cupper and buyer at BKI. He is responsible for creating the profile and flavor of your coffee from a food that is always changing. His most important tool is his taste buds.
In the tasting room there is deep concentration every day when the clock strikes 08:15. Casper Rasmussen, the purchasing manager and expert cupper at BKI, is gathered with his tasting panel, leaning over the 63 cups of freshly brewed coffee that make up the tasting session of this morning.
It's yesterday's freshly roasted coffees that need to be tasted and quality tested before they are allowed to make their way our customers.
With their tasting spoons in hand, they take turns slurping through each cup, spitting out and making notes on how each coffee tastes today. They don't slurp due to a lack of manners, and they don't refrain from drinking the coffee because it doesn't taste good.
Instead, the refined technique accentuates the coffee's aromas and flavor nuances for the trained coffee cupper. The coffee is simply not consumed because the cupping panel has to sample at least 200 more cups of coffee today.
A systematic and organized procedure that is repeated over and over, day after day. According to Casper Rasmussen, the cupping sessions are a crucial part of the craft of producing quality coffee.
"Our sensory tests are absolutely crucial for us at BKI in order to produce our products. It's my greatest task to ensure that we create the coffee that always tastes as our customers expect. And that is based on a food that is never constant but changes from harvest to harvest and from year to year. That's why we constantly have to taste the coffee."
For the same reason, Casper and his team typically taste 30 cups of a coffee bean before it is even allowed to enter BKI's roastery as a green raw bean.
After roasting and packaging, it undergoes at least ten more evaluations.
What BKI cuppers are trained for:
- To assess any coffee based on parameters such as aroma, body, acidity, and aftertaste.
- To recognize more than 30 different flavor profiles for coffee beans at BKI.
- To determine if a coffee is brewed incorrectly: Whether it is over- or under-dosed, ground too finely or coarsely, or roasted improperly.
- To identify and respond to a wide range of off-flavors which are undesirable in coffee, such as over-fermentation, earthy flavors, or potato- and pea-like off-notes.
Being a coffee cupper is not only a matter of taste
It takes one and a half years to be approved as a coffee cupper at BKI and thus become part of Casper Rasmussen's cupping panel. It requires curiosity and perseverance to develop the right skills, just as the cuppers must be able to evaluate the coffee consistently. In other words, they need to be calibrated with each other.
That's why they are tested every six months to ensure that their taste buds are always in top shape.
The cuppers must be able to rank any coffee on parameters such as aroma, acidity, and body. They should be able to match raw beans to the more than 30 different flavor profiles that BKI creates their coffees from, and they should be able to taste if a coffee is over- or under-dosed, ground too finely or coarsely - or perhaps roasted incorrectly.
"This is pure training. We are not good enough if we haven't cultivated our tasting to a level where we can describe and assess each bean and coffee very precisely. Based on our cuppings, I have to evaluate whether the raw beans I purchase meet the right quality and fit our various flavor profiles. And I have to ensure that all our roasted coffee tastes as it should," says Casper Rasmussen.
In other words cuppings are not only a matter of taste.
They can potentially have great economic significance if a coffee were to be rejected. Therefore, it's only the expert cupper who can make decisions based on these sensory tests.
Craftsmanship is the driving force behind great coffee
Back in the cupping room, fortunately, there are no remarks during cupping session of this mornings. All coffees has been tasted and compared with the same type of coffee from previous roasting dates. Just to be sure.
But if a coffee didn't taste as expected, it would never leave BKI's premises, says Casper Rasmussen.
And it is exactly this mix of challenge and responsibility that continues to motivate the purchasing manager in his daily work through more than 20 years.
"My motivation lies in the craftmanship of tasting and in my responsibility to ensure coffee quality through it. After all, I have to find beans from all over the world - which are fundamentally all green, roughly the same size, and look similar to each other. And like an alchemist, it is my responsibility to compare the coffee beans, dissect them, and reassemble them to create the exact flavor that our customers expect and prefer."