Fascimile Coffees (live cuppings) with Ryan Brown/Scott Rao

Discuss flavors, brew temperatures, blending, and cupping notes.
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#1: Post by TomC »

I jumped on the Facsimile Coffee subscription a day or two too late for the first distribution. But I was excited to be able to get the second distribution and do a proper cupping of them with another roaster friend.

I met up with HB buddy Dan Remer (HB: DJR) yesterday and brought both the new Caffe Lusso GMC Roma for lever shots, as well as Onyx's Juan Pena from Ecuador.

The cupping was four coffees. It was very easy for me to nail one of the kenyan's right off the bat, but since we weren't following along strictly with the video broadcast and doing other things, we didn't adhere to the same methods. I did break the crust right at 4 minutes, but we started sampling the coffees hotter than what I generally prefer to.

Anyway, it was a great experience. One I'll be happy to continue doing solo at home with closer attention to following along in sequence/timing.

The coffees ended up being two Ecuadorans and two Kenyans. All were very good coffees. Strong sweetness throughout, with great acidity. The processing method was varied a bit, making for a fun challenge to the palate. Since Dan and I started our noon-time hangout with a pour over of the Onyx Juan Pena natural processed coffee, we set a small sample of that at the tail end of the cupping.

The guess cupper was Gabby Wright, a Q and Processing certified cupper who works for Red Fox Coffee Merchants. She's like a breath of fresh air and her expertise was communicated fluidly.

I'd strongly recommend people consider this subscription for a bit. $39/month gets you some beautifully curated and expertly roasted coffees delivered to your door and the cupping events are kept on their you YouTube page for posterity and later studying. It would very likely help those seeking to develop their analytical/sensorial skills to be able to do this in the comfort of their own home, but amongst folks who do this for a living.
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#2: Post by caffeineme »

Thanks for the tip.

I ordered a $10 bag from their website as a trial. Looking forward to cupping it and then reviewing the YT later.

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#3: Post by jmotzi »

While my taste sensitivity is no where near that of the folks running the show, I am very much enjoying the guided cupping and the coffees.

Subsequent to the cupping session, I am finding that all of the coffees are very very easy to extract by V60 pourover and with my Cremina for espresso. There's a limited amount to play with so I don't search for the perfect setup, but I am very much enjoying the quality of the roasts and the variety.

For those interested in joining, here is a synopsis of the coffees from the last two sessions: https://www.facsimile.coffee/previously

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#4: Post by luca »

I met Scott a few years ago, tasted a few of his roast development kits and we were behind the stalls on some trade shows for decent espresso together. Through all of this, I've found that we like a lot of the same roast levels and the same sorts of coffees. I also thought Ryan's book "Dear Coffee Buyer" was a great read, so I gave this a shot from the first sub, and it has certainly lived up to my expectations.

The hallmark of all of the coffees that they have sent has been that they are clean, sweet and free of defects. This is a good thing if you want to drink the coffees, but it's a bad thing if you're hoping to learn how to identify defects from this. Fair enough in some senses, since people may well be annoyed to be paying good money for a 100g bag of defective coffee. They have had one natural processed coffee out of the 8 so far; otherwise everything else has been, I think, washed. That natural processed coffee in the first round was very clean, and really quite spectacular.

The roast level is really something that is chosen for cupping and filter brewing. So the roasts have a good level of aroma, but no roast-derived flavours. The 8 so far have all been stylistically consistent in terms of roast. I really like this style of roast, and I'm getting a double sub each month and running it through my espresso machine. I guess you might consider it a nordic roast, but, really, it's a properly developed filter roast. If you want your coffee to have roast flavours (eg. nuts, toast, bread, chocolate, roast beef, black pepper) added to the inherent flavours of the green (which could have nut or chocolate flavours, but they're different from roast flavours) then this probably isn't for you. If you want coffee for making gooey, sticky, big bodied, low acid espresso, this probably isn't for you.

I haven't put a lot of effort into doing the cuppings, but I've treated them as a bit of fun. It's a nice, low-pressure and delicious way to build up tasting experience and to gradually develop calibration for the 100 point scale. The coffees arrive as four bags labelled 1-4, so you can truly do blind tastings if you want to.

Here are my notes from Round 2; they ended up being a bit different from the other cuppers, and it may well be that, had I thought about it, after the cupping I might have revised them to be more in line with the other cuppers, or to add more of their descriptors. But anyway, here's what's in my notebook:

Ecuador Rancho Carmen (blend of varieties): Chocolate, amaro herbs, round, complete, walnut. 84-85. (This was a good example of a flawless cup, but with nothing especially distinctive or amazing about it. Good reference point. The few times you do read scores from roasters, you read a lot of BS with them claiming that coffees of this level are 86 points and up.)

Kenya Karindundu (the usual blend of SL28,SL34, Ruiru 11 and Batian in unspecified portions): Grape, juicy, grapefruit, strong fresh tomato; less complexity than the Gatomboya. 87-87.5. (I was very happy to taste this, since over the last year, and unfortunately continuing into the new crop, I'm told, Kenyan coffees have been relatively poor in quality compared with what we've seen historically. This was a solid Kenyan, with none of the blandness, flatness or excessive astringency that have plagued many Kenyans over the last year or so.)

Ecuador Guillermo Lomas (mejorado): Bergamot, lime, citric, long aftertaste, currant. 88.5. (I had never tried mejorado before and was stunned at the aroma on this thing. Apparently Snr Lomas was cupping along from Ecuador, too.)

Kenya Gatomboya (SL28 and SL34; no hybrids): Crisp, sweet, orange, tomato, grapefruit, apricot, blackcurrant. Complex; I probably could have written more descriptors, but really it's all stabbing at similar aromas. 89. (The mighty Gatomboya. This was like coming home after a long trip. I really missed high quality Kenyan coffees like this, and could drink them by the bucket. Many coffee industry people will tell you that Kenyan coffees are their favourites, and this sort of coffee illustrates why.)

So far, 8/8 roasts have been good, which is, frankly, a very high success rate, I think. By "good", I mean stylistically consistent and without roast defects. For reference, if a roaster screws up on one out of 4-5 roasts, I'd consider them a relatively good roaster.

If you're going to give this a shot, I think it'd be a good idea to add one or two other coffees to the lineup. Doesn't matter what. Just whatever you have around; it can be good or bad. The point is that you want to add some context. For example, if you have an espresso roast in with the cupping, then you'll get a good idea of the influence of roast. For round 2, I think it would have been really good to have some other Kenyan coffees around, since having some of the washed out and astringent disappointments that have been common recently would have made it a lot easier to appreciate how much effort has obviously gone into sourcing the coffees.

I gather that they're sort of buying odd bags of different coffees for each month and they want to roast them all and clear them all out, so they have various amounts of some of the coffees available in their webstore on an a-la-carte basis, I think released after the cupping, but maybe they go live before. This is great for those of you that live in the US, and probably Canada, where you can get relatively good and cheap shipping from NYC; less good for me in Australia. I can only imagine that after round 2 there must have been a stampede to buy up all available Gatomboya!
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#5: Post by Auctor »

Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I purchased and cupped the third round last week. While I think my tasting skills are still mediocre at best, a point made earlier I think deserves an underline: these are some of the best coffees I've ever tasted. So much so that it's furthered my realization that it's actually hard to find "good" coffee - a high class problem!

A couple of months ago I purchased a Blue Bottle super rare Brazilian coffee, which got me on the path to finding tastier beans. 3 of 4 of these beans matched the "delight" factor for me. Thanks for the heads up.

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#6: Post by Brewzologist »

Thanks for the tip and reviews. Just signed up for this and looking forward to it. With no formal training in tasting, I've previously subscribed to Angels' Cup to do my own blind tastings, but this appears to be at a different level. Even watching the prior videos is educational. Appreciate Luca's advice to add other coffees to the lineup too, which I'll do using my own home roasts. I just hope mine don't end up always being the ones with defects... :cry:

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#7: Post by jbviau »

Yup, this is educational and fun. I'm still working my way through round 3. Will probably re-up for a round or two in the near future. I do it asynchronously due to my crazy schedule--it's nice having the recordings to work with at my own pace.

Note: you can't order individual coffees "à la carte" after the cuppings anymore.
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#8: Post by luca »

I'm dredging up this thread because I'm excited to see that the next round is 4 coffees produced by the wonderful and inimitable Aida Battle, differing only in processing:

https://www.instagram.com/p/CSovnuLnXv7 ... _copy_link

https://www.instagram.com/p/CSmRnq7MbRN ... _copy_link

Subs close on 24 August to make this round!

Aida is also selling her green direct to home roasters, so if you're doing that, this might be a good way to benchmark your results.
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#9: Post by jbviau »

Maybe this thread doesn't need a coda, but I'll provide a tiny one anyway since they've shut the subscription down due to "inventory and logistics" concerns.

I've almost tasted my way through the last flight of Facsimile coffees. I was glad to see that I'd correctly identified green as anaerobic--in part because of my strong dislike for it. Yellow (Elida natural) was great.

I'm grateful for the palate development opportunity. I never actually cupped any of the coffees formally, and I never participated live. Still, I definitely learned from comparing my own notes on the pourovers I brewed to what was discussed in the videos posted on YouTube.

Thanks, Tom, for the original heads up.
"It's not anecdotal evidence, it's artisanal data." -Matt Yglesias

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#10: Post by lukehk »

I saw on line they were not accepting new subscriptions. Are you saying the whole thing is closing for existing subscribers too? If so it's a real shame, I really enjoyed it. I was sad to see BH superlatives go too due to logistics. I also drank most of it through brewing and was just getting into the cupping process.