Edible DC Winter 2015 : Page 34

and Sightglass have similar layouts—Compass has a heavier focus on wholesale. Behind the beautiful bar and the whirring roaster, a long line of tins rattles through a filling and labeling machine. The tins are bound for local retailers or Compass’s own impressive retail space in front. In many ways, Compass is the bellwether of coffee’s success in Washington, the kind of café that would have been inconceivable just a few years ago. Joel Finkelstein found D.C. to be a “coffee wasteland” at that time, which drove him to start roasting his own beans at home and later open his Petworth-based Qualia Coffee in 2009, when his passion spilled over into his career. Since then, he has been roasting small batches of beans for sale at farmers markets and in his shop, using a roaster rigged with thermometers that help him track different temperature zones in the machine. It’s all part of his obsession with quality and consistency. A similar obsession drives all of the roasters popping up around Washington these days, bringing a new appreciation for the wide range of flavors that separate one bean from another. While their business models vary as much as their backgrounds, these roasters—and their thirsty custom-ers—are all looking for the same thing: excellent coffee. It’s a welcome shake-up to the local coffee scene, adding more diversity to what’s being poured into every cup. Andrew Marder is a local business writer. When he isn’t drinking cof-fee, he’s playing with his son or failing to fix up his house. C upping is the wine tasting of the coffee world. You drink small amounts of coffee, assessing aromas, taste, balance and acid-ity, among other qualities. Copious notes allow you to track your tasting over time, and give you a better sense of how your experience is changing. It’s a different bailiwick for coffee professionals, though. Cupping is used byroasters to check beans for quality and then to find the perfect roasting point. The same beans can be tasted over and over with different levels of roast to find the sweet spot. A barista from La Colombe recently summarized the process as a way to, at the very least, “increase coffee knowledge.” Many D.C.–area shops, including La Colombe, M.E. Swing and Ceremony, offer public cuppings on a regular basis—well worth the time for any serious coffee drinkers. Ceremony Coffee , 90 Russell Street, Annapolis, MD Public cupping at their Annapolis roastery every other Friday at 10 am, no registra-tion necessary. Check their website for updated information. CeremonyCoffee.com La Colombe , 924 Rear N St. NW (Blagden Alley), Washington, D.C. The location in the Shaw neighborhood of DC offers cupping on a monthly basis, check Scrapbook.LaColombe.com for events postings. Qualia Coffee , 3917 Georgia Ave., NW, Washington D.C. Public tastings and side-by-side comparisons the second and fourth Sunday of every month at their Petworth roastery at 2 pm. QualiaCoffee.com M.E. Swing Coffee , 501 East Monroe, Alexandria, VA Public cupping in their Del Ray roastery every Friday at 10 am, check their website for information on what beans will be cupped. 34 SwingsCoffee.com | EDIBLE DC | WINTER 2015 CUPPING 101

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