Every coffee professional has had the experience: a coffee blows you away on the cupping table, but subsequent brews don’t measure up. Or perhaps you’ve invited your friends to a cupping, only to see them look confused when you hand them a spoon and spit cup.
Although cupping remains the coffee industry’s universally accepted technique for quality control, it is neither practical nor approachable for consumers. The Rattleware Cupping Brewer seeks to bridge that gap by offering the multi-sensory experience of cupping in a more approachable package. We were lucky enough to get our hands on one at the New York Coffee Festival and we’ve been using it ever sense.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the cupping brewer is its simplicity. It’s an hour glass-shaped carafe with a stopper: something like a French press wearing a corset. The conical midsection serves to accentuate the aromatics of the dry fragrance while also helping trap the grounds when serving. Filled to the brim the cupping brewer holds around 600 ml of liquid, though we got the best results close to the 500 ml. range.
When it comes to cup quality, the cupping brewer far surpassed our expectations. Using a 1:15 ratio and very long steep times (10-12 minutes), we were able to achieve some very sweet, high extractions with great body. Since our prototype didn’t come with instructions, we tried to use the brewer as close to standard cupping procedures as possible. We waited till the four minute mark to break the crust and skim the leftover foam with a cupping spoon. As to be expected with a filterless brew method, there is some sediment in the last sip of the cup, but we found the cupping brewer to be surprisingly clean when poured gently.
Although the cupping brewer is capable of making a very tasty cup, it is very similar to a French press. One can easily assess the coffee’s fragrance in the bottom of a press pot, and using James Hoffman’s technique, achieve a clean cup as well. The cupping brewer’s stopper is fairly effective at trapping the grounds, but lets similar amounts of sediment through as better French presses (such as our favorite, the Espro Press). Like a French press, clean up is messy and virtually impossible without a sieve.
The cupping brewer is a simple brewing device capable of making a stunning cup of coffee. While it falls short of translating the entire cupping experience into a more consumer friendly package, we expect it will soon gain a following amongst immersion brew enthusiasts. We certainly have found ourselves turning to use it more than expected.