IMAG9815 sign for coffee tastingOn Monday, March 31st, I went to a coffee seminar at the Starbucks on Elliott in Seattle. Kristina, a coffee master in training, invited me to her event. She did an amazing job of putting on a dynamic seminar. About twenty people appeared. Kristina walked us through trying three coffees: Starbucks Reserve® Finca Nuevo Mexico, Starbucks Sun Dried Ethiopia Yirgacheffe™, and the core Starbucks Sumatra coffee, which is in stores year-round.

One thing Kristina did was awaken all our senses to the coffee. The first step of a coffee tasting is to smell the coffee. You put your hand close to the cup of coffee, holding it very close to your nose, and taking a deep whiff of the aroma. What Kristina did was have us smell the coffee, and then provided many smelling-facilitator cups. For example, for the Finca Nuevo Mexico, Kristina passed around tasting cups containing toasted pine nuts, orange zest, and brown sugar. This was brilliant step. It really helps one’s coffee education to be able to smell the coffee again a second time after having smelled the aroma notes separately. It’s like as if your brain is awakened to what you’re supposed to be smelling. You can see the small cup of aroma facilitators in this picture:

IMAG9807 Mexico 31March2014I’ve been to many coffee events, but rarely do the presenters prepare something to awaken the sense of smell in this way. The cup with mushrooms, clove, lavender, cardamom, rosemary and sage was for the core Sumatra coffee. It’s amazing how one really smells mushrooms – it makes that aroma pop – when provided with this kind of smell facilitator. The strawberry with baker’s chocolate and celery (for the lemon grass aroma) was for the Sun Dried Yirgacheffe coffee.

IMAG9813 Smelling container Elliott DT

One of the other things about this coffee event was that she totally prepared and organized. Each coffee had a guide sheet which told you exactly what you’re smelling and tasting with the coffee.

IMAG9803 Sumatra coffee tasting with smelling containerWe also discovered that Kristina is a brilliantly good cook. I told her that she could be a master chef! She prepared mushrooms stuffed with artichoke hearts for the Sumatra tasting as well a lavender butter cookies. The butteryness of the lavender butter cookies worked beautifully with the savory flavors of Sumatra. And for the first time, I started to pick up lavender in Sumatra, which I never had before.

IMAG9805 Mushroom with Sumatra coffeeThe three coffees each represent different growing regions. The Mexico coffee is from Latin America. Sun-Dried Yirgacheffe is sourced from Africa. And Sumatra coffee comes from the Indonesian growing region. My favorite coffee was still the Sun-Dried Yirgacheffe but that’s largely because I’m in love with that coffee.

Kristina drew a large crowd:

IMAG9800 Kristina coffee tasting at Elliott DT 31March2014I highly recommend that you browse the Coffee Tasting articles on this site. It’s interesting to me to look back at all the past coffee event and see what partners have done for pairings. I also strongly recommend that article: What is a Coffee Master?

Congratulations Kristina P. on a fantastic coffee tasting!

Here are just a few more photos:

IMAG9882 Elliott Drive Thru coffee semianrIMAG9790 coffee seminar March 31 2014 - Elliott DT StarbucksIMAG9782 coffee is brewing in french presses