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No One Wants to Get Frustrated Over Morning Coffee: How I Choose Beans for Sheep and Raven

You might not believe it, but I don't have a favorite coffee or a preferred style. I don’t lean towards any specific processing methods or countries of origin. From what I've learned, every coffee can surprise you and turn out great, so the key is to keep trying.

Picking coffees for my offer is always a long and demanding process. However, my philosophy is simple: they HAVE to be coffees that I’d happily drink myself and recommend to you with all my heart. And that’s mainly what guides me. After all, these are also the coffees I drink every day and I don’t want to get frustrated over my morning brew 😊.

My biggest dream as a coffee roastery owner and a two-time world champion?

To share competition coffees. Why? Because they are truly special and I want everyone to try them, not just competitors or judges. On the other hand, I know how much work goes into producing such beans and their high price is often justified (though not always… but that’s a topic for another post). Still, I try not to forget the economic aspect. After all, they must be beans that a coffee lover would be willing and able to budget for 😊.

What does this look like in practice?

There are many sources of green coffee. From Polish and foreign importers, through joint orders with friendly roasteries, to personal contacts from various parts of the coffee world and, of course, direct contacts with coffee farmers in the producing countries. I mainly keep in touch with green coffee importers who have warehouses in the EU. This is the most convenient and simplest solution, as it eliminates the need to organize shipping from overseas, handle customs clearance, or deal with health inspections. You need to know your stuff with green coffee import, and I assure you, it’s not a sport for beginners. I pay special attention to the freshness of the crops in importer offers and if something catches my interest, I ask for samples.

What kind of beans intrigues me?

It could be a taste profile that’s currently missing from the offer, like a classic strawberry Ethiopia Daye Bensa natural or a floral Colombia Gesha Queen. Sometimes it’s an unusual or trendy processing method, like Colombia Santa Monica Lulo – 72h fruit co-fermentation, or a new botanical variety like Sidra Mosto Natural Anaerobic, or my beloved Sudan Rume natural. Sometimes even a funny name. How many samples do I order? Hmm, it depends. On how many coffees I’m looking for and whether I’ll have time to test and describe them all, so sometimes 5… sometimes 15.

When the samples arrive, I prepare a cupping.

Cupping is a form of testing and evaluating the beans. And it looks like traditional old coffee brewing at your aunt’s birthday party 😀. But it follows a much more rigid protocol. A well-conducted cupping gives a clear picture of the coffee’s potential and its possible defects. During the tasting, I assess: aroma, flavor, aftertaste, acidity, sweetness, body and mouthfeel, and whether the coffee is “something.” Hard to describe. I’m just looking for something distinctive and unique.

Generally, I look for different attributes in coffees for “filter” brewing, meant for pour-over methods, and focus on other attributes in coffees specifically for espresso.

Choosing “filter” coffees is easier, as cupping largely reflects the characteristics achievable in pour-over brewing methods: aroma, flavor, body. Here, a thorough analysis of the coffee at different temperatures suffices. BTW if you want to learn how to brew pour-over coffees, check out my free course. With espresso, it’s harder, because good espresso coffees can be totally boring in cupping. I personally have to remind myself that I’m looking for “espresso” coffees, so I don’t accidentally dismiss some good beans. I focus on a solid body, and secondly, on ensuring a pleasent lingering finish and a few, just a few, detectable flavors. Espresso will be several times more intense than what we detect in cupping, so a too complex coffee might simply be too challenging sensory experience.

How many coffees from such cupping make it to the offer?

It varies – sometimes 1, sometimes 4, and sometimes none. When I was selecting beans at the very beginning, I tried about 140 samples, and only 8 made it to the offer. It took a lot of time! Now my “efficiency” is a bit better because I’ve learned to select samples more accurately based on descriptions.

How can you navigate through my coffee selection?

Sheep and Ravens will be your guides in finding “something delicious” in my coffee universe. They’re like me – sometimes obsessively searching for the perfect bean, roast, and brew, other times just craving a tasty espresso or a creamy cappuccino, but with nice latte art:

So, are you Sheep or Raven?

Agnieszka Rojewska

06/05/2024

The content available on the blog is a presentation of the author's opinions, views, knowledge or experience, but does not constitute a form of individual advice on any matter. Before making a decision on an issue that is important to you, always seek individual advice from a specialist.

The content available on the blog is protected by copyright, and its copying, reproduction, further distribution or other use without the express consent of the author is prohibited and may result in civil or criminal liability. If you are interested in a license to use the content, please write to hello@sheepandraven.com.

© 2024 Agnieszka Rojewska

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