Spencer Turer, Director of Coffee Operations, attended the recent NACS Show (National Association of Convenience Stores) held in Las Vegas, Nevada. While at the show, Spencer met with many of our clients from the convenience retailer channel of trade, and had the opportunity to talk with other retailers about their hot beverage programs.
“Attention to coffee quality and improved brewing technology was the primary focus of this year’s show,” stated Turer. Many of the national coffee roasters were demonstrating their quality capabilities by featuring singe-origin coffee, exotics, and even certified coffee, illustrating their commitment to social and environmental responsibility. Equipment manufacturers were demonstrating the newest technology for filter drip brewing and serving to maintain coffee quality attributes. Espresso machines, both super-automatic one-step and two-step models, were prominently displayed, demonstrating to convenience retailers that freshly prepared espresso-based beverages are able to be included in anyone’s coffee program.
From branded coffee to private-label programs, and from commercial quality to gourmet quality, the overall focus at the NACS Show was to keep the hot coffee customer in their stores by delivering a great tasting cup of coffee to the consumer.
Coffee Analysts is recognized as the leader in coffee testing services to food service brands and convenience retailers, and is providing comprehensive quality support to many convenience retailers to help them achieve their sales and profit goals.
We are please to announce that Director of Coffee Operations Spencer Turer is now a Licensed Q-Grader. An article from CoffeeTalk describes what it means to be a Q-Grader:
The Q-Grader program is designed to give a common language to describe quality in coffee and is used from the farmer to the consumer. It quantifies coffee attributes and gets all participants to identify taste characteristics in the same way. The true purpose therefore is to be able to communicate quality up and down the supply chain and raise the overall quality of coffee in the process.
Jeremy Raths of The Roastery in Minneapolis, and a Q-Grader Instructor, describes the Q-Certification of coffee this way, “For the coffee industry it is the only certification based on Quality. It is totally blind, independent and adhering to a strict protocol. It is all about the coffee. No guilt, no shame, just coffee quality. It is a way that the whole chain can objectively look at a coffee using quantification.”
Q-Graders must pass a rigorous five-day exam to earn their certification, comprising of 22 sections on coffee-related subjects, such as green grading, roast identification, coffee cupping, sensory skills and sensory triangulation. There are currently over 1,000 Licensed Q Graders worldwide.
Coffee Analysts benefits by having two licensed Q Grader on staff. Both Coffee Analysts owner Dan Cox and Spencer Turer provide leadership to sensorial evaluations ensuring SCAA and Q standards are followed for coffee evaluations, and provide training to staff members as well as insuring proper calibration amongst sensory panelists.
“We are proud of Spencer earning his Q-Grader License,” remarked Cox. “It’s a rigorous and world-renowned program, and Coffee Analysts will benefit greatly from having another Q-Grader on our team.”
Last week we got a comment on our post “Coffee Testing: What We Look For and Why“:
Moisture content in green coffee is an indicator of freshness, proper processing at the coffee mills, and proper storage conditions.
Coffee is hygroscopic—that is, it attracts and hold water in moist environments and will release water in dry environments.
Fresh green coffee upon import should be between 10% and 12% moisture for washed coffee, and up to 13% moisture for naturally processed coffees and coffees from Indonesia. The National Federation of Coffee Growers of Colombia has a regulation limiting Colombia coffee moisture content to below 12% upon export.
Green coffee moisture will affect cup quality: Beans with high moisture content may discolor and turn light opaque during storage. High moisture content coffee may have cup quality issues as well, ranging from fruity to sour, and possibly ferment. Beans with low moisture will lose their green color and turn pale yellow quickly, with cup quality issues of flat, papery, thin and cereal characters.
Green coffee moisture will effect blend development: Variations in green coffee moisture will affect the roasting process and change the dynamics of the roast profile.
High moisture content beans will roast slower, requiring additional energy to dry the beans before Maillard reactions / non-enzymatic browning may occur.
Low moisture levels are necessary to allow coffee’s internal temperature to reach around 154 C (309 F) to begin. Low moisture contents will cause the profile roast to speed up, with higher temperatures realized earlier, creating a faster roast.
Coffee Analysts’ own Spencer Turer was quoted earlier this week in an MSNBC article about coffee and its effects on living a long life.
In her piece, author JoNel Aleccia cites recent results from the largest-ever analysis of the link between coffee consumption and mortality that coffee consumption may lead to a living a longer life. The research, which was recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that during a 14-year study period “men who drank at least six cups of coffee a day had a 10 percent lower chance of dying during the 14-year study period than those who drank none. For women, the risk was 15 percent lower.”
This is where Spencer came in:
Reassuring, indeed, for hard-core coffee drinkers like Spencer Turer, who guzzles four to six cups of coffee every day for personal consumption — and sips between 75 and 300 cups more as part of his job as a professional coffee taster.
“It’s good news for all coffee drinkers because we can feel really good about the decisions we’re making,” said Turer, director of coffee operations for the firm Coffee Analysts, which provides unbiased scientific review of coffee products. “People concerned about the health effects may choose to drink more coffee.”
Nice! Click here to read the full article.
Since MSNBC ran this post, a few other news outlets picked up the piece and quoted Spencer:
CLASSIC FRESH FRUIT TART
Orange sweet pastry shell, traditional vanilla pastry cream – milk, eggs, sugar, bourbon vanilla beans and a small amount of cornstarch. Topped with fresh berries and kiwi, finished with Grand Marnier infused glaze.
City-roast coffee (48-50 Agtron) to complement the dessert of super-sweet characters, medium acidity, and slight nuttiness: Brasil NY2 Strictly-soft, fine cup 100% Cerrado with sweet, creamy nutty characters and soft, mild finish will allow the fruit characters of the tart to dominate, or Costa Rica Strictly Hard Bean European Preparation Honeyed, or El Salvador Strictly High Grown Honeyed coffees, both will present a syrupy, floral and slightly wild sweetness, with rich-creamy body and bright, crisp acidity. The coffee character will compliment the creamy custard and ripe fruit characters to make a harmonious pairing.
A Medium roasted Fair Trade Organic coffee has sweet aroma, winy-orange/apricot acidity, and medium body with milk chocolate, toasted nuts, and light caramel smooth finish. The sweetness of the fresh fruit in the tart will draw out the floral-fruity sweetness of the coffee, without overpowering the character or intensity.
WINE / SPIRITS
Crisp, clean sweet wine to compliment the fruit acidity, and balance the cream and pastry.
- Ice Wine – dessert wine produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine, the water is dissolved and the sugars are concentrated. – Pure, fresh, sweet and nicely acidic characters would lift the fruit flavors and compliments the pastry cream.
- Late Harvest Riesling – sweet, aromatic German dessert wine
- Sauternes – French sweet wine of the Graves section in Bordeaux – Both LH Riesling and Sauternes are fairly complex wines with typical floral aroma, fresh/stone fruit characters, honey, apricots and peaches, may be spicy and mineral-like with underlying sweetness and crisp acidity.
- Marenco Bracchetto d’Aqcui “Pineto” - Dessert wine from Piedmont, Italy from 100% Brachetto grapes – This is a softly sparkling dessert red wine that adds an elegant sweet-tart balance of cherry and berry fruit with medium acidity.
From Flickr: Oceana Grill New Orleans
KENTUCKY BOURBON PECAN PIE
Classic ingredients: eggs, sugar, dark corn syrup, butter, pecans and Jim Beam Kentucky bourbon. Coffee cuts the sweetness of this dessert and pairs well with the buttery caramel pecan filling. The Pastry Chef makes the pie dough using bourbon in the dough, to add flavor and reduce the development of gluten which toughens the pastry. The salted caramel sauce mirrors the flavors of the pie.
Full-city roast coffee (Agtron 44-46) with acidity and fruity/floral to contrast the rich creamy dessert: Ethiopia Yirgacheffe (bright, citric and floral with clean lingering finish) or Guatemala Antigua Strictly Hard Bean, European Preparation, Fancy (winy acidity, tart-sweetness, with rich body and spicy finish) will provide enough contrast to the sticky sweetness of the Pecan Pie without overpowering the toasted nutty characters.
The complex flavors of this dessert and heavy sweetness require an intense coffee to pair. Slightly similar with enough contradicting characters help keep each item separate on ones palette: sweet, clean coffee with low acidity, dark chocolate and molasses characters, hint of sweet ripe berry, medium to full body, with a toasty, dark caramel lingering finish.
WINE / SPIRITS
- Paired with classic, sweet dessert wine, slightly sweeter then the dessert.
- Malmsey or Bual Madeira – sweetest 2 of the 4 major Madeira grape varieties. Portuguese wine fortified with grape spirits.
- Oloroso Sherry – “Scented” sherry. Aged to produce a smoother and sweeter wine.
- PX Sherry – (Pedro Jimenez) a white grape from Spain producing an intensely sweet, dark, dessert wine.
- Bual Madeira and Oloroso Sherry both have the nuttiness to compliment the pecans and the acidity to balance the sweetness of the sugar. The Malmsey and PX are very rich and dark, with dried fruit flavors which would enhance the chocolate.
- High quality Madeira will work very well, exhibiting toffee, molasses, pecan and nut flavors, with good acidity.
Look for Spencer at SCAA
The SCAA Event is almost here, and Coffee Analysts will be there.
If you’re in Portland, look for Spencer Turer, Director of Coffee Operations, as a Station Instructor for the following classes:
- GE201 The SCAA Cupping Form and Peer Calibration
- GE202 Comparative Cupping
- GE255 Organic Acids and the Chemistry of Coffee
Spencer will also be a judge for the “Best New Products – Coffee or Tea Preparation and Servicing Equipment (Consumer).”
Vincent Caloiero, Coffee Analysts Coffee Technologist, will also be attending the conferences as a porter at the Roasters Guild Coffee of the Year Competition.
DEVIL’S FOOD CAKE
Ingredients in tested Devil’s Food Cake: Panama Volcan Beru Coffee, buttermilk, Cocao Barry Extra Brut (100% cocoa, 24% cocoa butter) dark cocoa powder, sugar, cake flour. The cake is finished with Italian butter cream infused with the same coffee and Crème Anglaise made with the Panama Volcan Beru coffee as well. The cake on its own demonstrates how well chocolate and coffee pair.
Vienna Roast coffee (Agtron 40-42) with big, bold coffee flavor with low-winy acidity, super-rich body, chocolate and dark caramel notes, and red berry sweetness will compliment nicely with Devil’s Food Cake intense chocolate richness. Sumatra Mandheling or Lintong, Grade 1 Double-Pick (berry, rich, sweet, slightly earthy) or 100% Colombia from Bucaramanga region (rich, sweet, winy body, clean, floral with molasses finish)
The richness of deep chocolate flavors in this dessert will pair well with a complimentary coffee of similar character. The coffee has medium citric acidity, medium to rich body, slight herbal, cedar, and chocolate characters, with dry cocoa, molasses finish.
WINE / SPIRITS
Chocolate is tricky, the dessert wine should be at least as sweet as the cake, or sweeter.
- Banyuls – an appellation for the unique sweet wines made in an eastern corner of France near its border with Spain. These wines are produced from about 2500 acres (1000ha) of sun-baked, terraced vineyards looking out over the western Mediterranean – Classic pairing, lush rich, full bodied dessert wine to stand up to the cake powerful richness, with plenty of caramel, cherry, chocolate, coffee, nut, and dried fruit characters.
- Port (LBV: Late Bottle Vintage, Tawny) – Portuguese fortified wine. LBV aged in the barrel for 4 to 6 years and ready to drink when released. Tawny Port is wood aged and exposed to gradual oxidation and evaporation – LBV Port will compliment well with chocolate, sweet and fruity characters, while the Tawny Port will be nutty
- Avery Russian Imperial Stout “The Czar” – Yes, Beer! Avery Brewing Company in Boulder Colorado – Inky black color and thick rich brew. Hallertau hops make the beer spicy and floral, with malty favors of toffee, dark coffee, molasses, currants, and a hint of anise.
Pairing and Food – Spencer Turer, Director of Coffee Operations at Coffee Analysts, presented “Pairing Coffee & Dessert” business luncheon at the recent National Coffee Association annual convention held in Charleston, South Carolina.
The presentation detailed the sensory attributes, both aromatic and flavor, used to compare desserts and coffee to better understand complimentary and contradictory attributes which will affect the guest experiences.
Today wine menus are more than red or white; beer selections are more than just light and dark; and even soda selections are more than regular and diet.
So, why is food service still offering just regular and decaf?
The coffee consumer is more knowledgeable and sophisticated than ever before, and with the right time and attention paid to the coffee menus as restaurants, cafes, and food service establishments, pairing the right coffee with desserts or other food items will enhance the guests’ dining experience.
Coffee professional participated in a pairing exercise with desserts prepared exclusively for the event by Charleston Place Executive Pastry Chef Christopher Ryan and specialty coffees courtesy of H.C. Valentine coffee company.
We will post coffee / dessert pairings for some popular desserts. Stay tuned!
Spencer during a cupping at Coffee Analysts
Coffee Analysts Director of Coffee Operations Spencer Turer successfully completed the Specialty Coffee Association of America’s Instructor Development Program in Portland, OR. This dynamic and extensive training program is for Coffee Subject Matter Experts to learn about applied adult learning concepts and instructional design to become a certified SCAA Lead Instructor.
Spencer Turer is a SCAA Subject Matter Expert in coffee quality, cupping/tasting, and green coffee trading. At the upcoming SCAA Event, an annual conference and exposition in April, Spencer will be a station instructor at GE255 Organic Acids and Chemistry of Coffee, GE202 Comparative Cupping, and GE201 The SCAA Cupping Form & Peer Calibration.
In its January Volume, the Institute of Food Technologist featured an in-depth article titled Coffee Quality Testing. After explaining the coffee basics, the author relies on the expertize of our own Spencer Turer to explain how and why coffee is tested:
The quality of the coffee consumers drink depends on numerous factors, such as the cultivar, growing altitude, climate, soil chemistry, harvesting and processing conditions, drying method, storage conditions (temperature, humidity), transportation method (container type and size), roasting conditions, grind size, packaging, age, and brewing method. Spencer Turer, Director of Coffee Operations at the independent coffee-testing company Coffee Analysts (www.coffeeanalysts.com), said that testing is conducted throughout the supply chain, but the amount of testing changes. Exporters and importers usually use basic sensory and physical evaluations to determine whether the product meets their quality standards for grade and are free of sensory defects. At the roaster, the testing becomes a lot more rigorous, and the regional, national, and multinational coffee companies become much more involved in dynamic quality control, using a variety of instrumental analyses as well as sensory evaluation. Turer said that although many strides have been made in instrumentation for flavor and aroma detection and identification, the simplest, least expensive, and most replicable results in coffee testing are obtained by sensory analysis, specifically the cupping method for flavor and aroma.
In this method, which is used at all stages of production, the taster or “cupper” first evaluates the overall visual quality of the beans (grading the beans for defects, size, moisture, aroma, and color), then roasts a sample in a laboratory roaster, grinds the roasted beans, and evaluates the roasted coffee fragrance. The cupper then adds boiling water to a standard amount of the ground coffee and allows the coffee to steep in the cup for about four minutes, smells the aroma, breaks the crust of grounds to complete the aroma evaluation, and then skims the floating grounds and oils from the top of the cup. After allowing the coffee to cool, the cupper tastes the beverage by forcefully slurping a spoonful to see if it meets expected standards, and then spits it out.
Using this procedure, the cupper can evaluate the coffee sample quality and blend different beans for product development or to determine the proper roast for specific flavor characteristics. According to the NCA, an expert cupper can taste hundreds of samples of coffee a day and still taste the subtle differences between them. Turer pointed out that the cupping process follows scientific protocols to ensure that the only variable in the test is the coffee being sampled. All aspects of the process are strictly controlled, including coffee roast parameter, time between roasting and cupping, grind size, coffee portion weight, water quality, water temperature, cupping vessels, and so on. The cupper records the intensity and quality of the dry bean fragrance and the aroma, acidity, body, flavor, and finish of the beverage.
Turer said that the physical laboratory tests that may be conducted on green coffee are density, moisture content and water activity, bean size, grade (defect counts), and color. Tests for roasted coffee are residual oxygen and carbon dioxide within packages, moisture content and water activity, roast color, grind particle size or broken bean counts, brewed coffee dissolved solids, pH, and Brix/refractive index. Chemical testing for coffee includes ochratoxin A, caffeine, nutrient analysis, microbiological analysis, and pesticides. Other tests that may be performed on roasted coffee are caffeine, chlorogenic acids, lipids, carbohydrates, total polyphenols, total proteins, and mycotoxins. Standard analytical methods for coffee have been published by AOAC International (see table), the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and other organizations.
View the entire article: HERE
Or download the PDF
Spencer Turer from Coffee Analysts attended Let’s Talk Coffee 2011 in Salinitas, El Salvador along with Jeff Alpert and Jenny Perez from Coffee Extracts & Ingredients. The conference is organized by Sustainable Harvest and attended by over 375 attendees from 24 different countries. The theme for this years conference was “Redesigning the Coffee Supply Chain.” Spencer participated in meetings with coffee producers and roasters regarding coffee quality and harvest expectations.
During the conference the region experienced torrential rains that caused extreme flooding and mudslides. However the poor weather did not dampen our spirit for building strong supply relationships and discussing coffee quality for calibrations amongst supply chain partners.
Preparing for a cupping
Coffee Extracts' Jeff Alpert (second from left) at one of the talks
Let's Talk Coffee: a great opportunity to hear what's happening in the industry
In the end: it's all about the beans
When it comes to coffee (or any other food product, for that matter), spider graphs—AKA spider charts or radar charts or star charts—are incredibly useful for documenting sensory attributes and their intensity for both flavor and aroma. These charts can be a useful tool to visually compare and contrast samples or as a point of reference to benchmark for product development or specification creation.—i.e. “I want my coffee to taste like THIS.”
Spider charts are most commonly used for Descriptive Analysis projects as used in the examples below:
What Is A Spider Graph?
In essence, a spider graph displays a series of attributes on a predefined scale to create a visual representation of how a product tastes.
Spider Graph Example
How are Spider Graphs Created for Descriptive Analysis?
The key to spider graphs is in blind testing by a trained panel. At Coffee Analysts, a team of professional cuppers (tasters) convene in a dedicated sensory laboratory devoid of external stimuli: no talking, no perfumes, no distractions. These cuppers independently analyze the coffee in terms of taste and aroma as described by the SCAA Flavor Wheel (see below).
To begin, our taste panel evaluates 3 different samples of the same product to individually identify the 10-15 most prevalent attributes present. Next the panel convenes to determine a common language for sensory attributes. Then the sensory panel reevaluates the products’ 3 samples to judge the intensity and quality of the pre-determined attributes. At the conclusion of the testing an accurate and detailed product summary is presented including a comprehensive spider-graph chart.
They cup the coffee at least three times, individually record their test results for each attributes intensity and quality, and then discuss their findings. Led by the Director of Coffee Operations the sensory panel, as a group, agree on 10-15 most prevalent attributes and chart the results.
SCAA Flavor Wheel
Why Are Spider Graphs Useful?
Coffee Analysts’ clients often use spider graphs to map roasted coffee sensory changed over time in order to determine consistency. As an example, a private label retailer has seen sales flatline for its best seller, “Acme Breakfast Blend.” The company suspects a recent change from one of its suppliers has adversely affected taste. If Acme had a spider graph of the original, best-selling “Breakfast Blend,” the company can use it to analyze the poor-performing coffee (see example below). Coffee Analysts can show how (or if) the flavor profile has changed significantly, and then make recommendations on how to improve.
Example – click on image to enlarge, use > and < keys to advance / go back:
Acme Blend Original
New blend – notice different flavor profile
Spider Graphs are an important tool for quality control programs and product development projects. The visual representation of various attributes can be an easy to read and understand profile of coffee character.
Coffee Analysts can complete descriptive Analysis projects and chart the results in spider chart format. Also, our standard sensory analysis scores from cupping or tasting can be presented using a spider chart format as well.
Making consistently good coffee is all about setting high standards. The best way to do this is to test your coffee regularly to make sure it meets those standards. But where do you start?
Coffee Analysts now offers bundled coffee testing packages for green coffee and roasted coffee. These testing packages give you a comprehensive report of what’s happening with your coffee, from staling risks to taints to cupping scores.
Whether you’re a small roaster or a nation-wide retailer, there’s a testing package that can help you ensure the quality of your coffee.
Best of all, all coffee testing packages include Sensorial Analysis and a comprehensive report.
Prices vary depending on volume, quantity and your goals, so contact us for a quote.
More Info: Coffee Testing Packages
Whether it’s 80° and clear or wind chill of -15°, at Coffee Analysts we enjoy quite the view while we cup coffee. Visit us any time!
View over Lake Champlain from the cupping room
Cupping in the Coffee Lab
Don't let the view distract you
The Agtron might sound like an agricultural superhero robot, but behind its name lies a simple coffee test: consistency.
The Agtron uses near infrared light to analyze the color of ground or whole bean coffee. It then outputs an easy-to-read number that represents the degree of roast. The lower the number, the darker the roast. For example, espresso roasts often have an Agtron reading in the 20s, dark roasts lie in the 30s, regular roasts between 40-55, and light roasts anywhere above 55.
Coffee Analysts uses the Agtron to determine roast consistency. We perform three Agtron readings for each sample to make sure they all fall within a certain range that’s determined by the customer. We then report all our findings back to our customers so they can adjust their roasting processes accordingly.
While we can tell you anything and everything there is to know about coffee, when it comes to actually growing coffee from seed … well … we’re not exactly green thumbs. The problem is that we love having coffee plants around the office.
Thank goodness for University of Vermont Adjunct Faculty Lecturer Colleen Armstrong.
Armstrong gets our seeds going in the greenhouse so we have some foliage around the coffee lab. Without her, we’d be SOL.
Just don’t expect us to start brewing any of the office coffee plant bounty: a coffee plant needs as much as four years to bear fruit, and it takes 2000 cherries to make one pound of coffee.
We just enjoy the greenery. Feel free to come by anytime to see for yourself.
Some young coffee plants thriving thanks to Colleen Armstrong
Two year old plants in our coffee lab
At the Coffee Analysts Coffee Laboratory, we use a range of technical equipment to analyze the physical characteristics of green and roasted coffee. For all our coffee testing packages, we perform many tests, but there are few things in particular that we look for.
Continue reading Coffee Testing: What We Look For and Why
Comprehensive coffee testing will help you understand how to source, roast and brew consistently great coffee. However, testing one sample one time will not reflect the state of your overall coffee program; it will only provide a snapshot of the particular sample.
While some specialty roasters test every batch they produce, it often is unreasonable for a roaster to go to extreme lengths to ensure quality. In our opinion, the key is to figure out a level of testing that can account for the variability of your coffee without blowing budgets and time constraints.
Continue reading How Often Should Coffee Be Tested?
When coffee is brewed correctly, there is truly nothing like it. You do a double-take, look incredulously at the cup in your hand and say, “man … that’s GOOD.”
But in order for the coffee to come out just right, the correct brew parameters must be in place: water quality, water-to-coffee ratio, water temperature, and grind. When brewed correctly, the coffee’s best flavors are released quickly, and bitterness will be present, but it will be perceived as more of an aftertaste or “finish.” Cutting off the extraction at a certain point can control the amount of bitterness.
Continue reading Optimal Coffee Brewing Explained