First of all, I'd like to say thanks to two people. Firstly, I'd like to pass on my boss's thanks to Chris Weaver, for kindly giving Coolaboola a shout out on his podcast. And of course, I'd like to say thanks for giving me a shout out in the same sentence lol. Secondly, a huge thank you to Liam Beadle. Liam is a guy I know from church, and we also used to go to the same school. After adding him on Facebook he seems to have discovered my blog, read it, and given me a shout out on his blog! Turns out he loves coffee and was born in the same backwater town as me, so kudos.
Anyway, my first real cupping. Well. I met Andrew Hetzel for the first time not so long ago. Seems that he discovered I was in Copenhagen and that I work in Newcastle, where he has just helped open Central Bean. He got in touch with me on Facebook and we arranged to meet through that. When we did finally meet up he invited me to a public cupping at the Bean. I went along with Dane and Jess, not really knowing what to expect; would it be a real cupping, or would it be a few filter pots lined up, and a load of stuff I already know. I was pleasantly surprised to walk through the automatic doors and see a cupping table laid out, with bowls and cupping spoons. As for the cupping itself, I can't remember a huge amount about the coffees, let alone where they came from, but I've asked Andrew if he could send me some info on them, so hopefully I'll be able to write up a full review of the cupping itself soon. As for the presentation and the information given it was a huge learning experience. I already had a good working knowledge of cupping process, but this really gave me an insight into it. And Andrew was a well of knowledge that everyone at the table made every possible use of. So all in all, a tremendous event and one I look forward to trying again at some point in the future. But, like I say, more on this later, hopefully.
So, the Newcastle coffee scene. One thing I've made a point of pointing out in the past is how much I want to see the Newcastle coffee scene grow. At the moment it is no different to the scene in many other cities; mostly Starbucks and Costa oriented, where people think that seeing Tall or Venti on a menu means good coffee will be served. Despite this ignorance of coffee quality, I serve speciality drinks to all sorts of people. Builders buying cappuccinos, school kids as young as 12 having to be talked out of buying double espressos, and buying a small mocha instead. People love speciality coffee! The problem is that people simply don't know what speciality coffee is.
So, future plans. One thing Andrew said at the cupping truly inspired me. He said that helping to grow the Newcastle coffee scene was his pet project. This is something I would love to have a hand in. In the next month or so Coolaboola is planning on having a barista night, to help raise money for Union Hand Roasted (they're building a day care centre in Costa Rica). Being resident coffee geek I'm helping to plan this out, and will be using it as a test case for future events. I'm going to make more of an effort to talk to local baristas and get to know them, as well as getting to know shop owners (hopefully). This should give me a good platform on which to launch future barista nights (where we can teach the public about the art of the barista), cupping sessions, small barista jams and get togethers, and with any luck some small competitions such as latte art comps, WBC style comps, or other (slightly more quirky) comps I've heard about in Norway and Australasia. Whether any of this will actually happen, who knows, but no one else in the region seems to be doing anything apart from Coolaboola, Olive and Bean (a deli) and Central Bean.
So, finger crossed guys! And if you've got any ideas, suggestions, or if you live in Newcastle and are interested in any of this, drop me a line, comment or hunt me down and tell me. It's all gonna help me.