We draw inspiration for new products at the Beekman 1802 Mercantile from all over. The owners of Java Love Roasters are city transplants who are pursuing their passion in upstate NY (this story sounded familiar). And after tasting their small-batch-roasted, fair-trade coffee, we asked if they would like to develop a Beekman 1802 Signature coffee blend.
When developing the coffee, we wanted to use the same type of beans that would have been available to William Beekman—the kind he would have sold in the original Beekman Mercantile.
The concept for the Beekman 1802 Mokha Java Blend stems from the first coffee “blend” ever created. The Dutch were the first to begin commercial cultivation of coffee trees on Java (part of the Dutch East Indies) in the 17th century. This Java (from the Indonesian phrase Kopi Jawa) was strong, black and very sweet. The Mokha side of the equation comes from the name of a major Yemen port used by the Dutch during the 17th century – the port of al-Mukha (Mokha, Mocca, Moka, Mocha); and the coffees coming from this port were traditional Arabian beans – fruity with a lively acidity.
The Mokha brings the earthy, fruity, brightness and the Java brings the contrasting full-bodied, mellow, and spice notes to the blend. Thus, a roughly equal blend of these two beans yields a smooth-drinking coffee with brightness and complexity of taste.
We invited a group of people to the roastery to help choose the final blend in a process called “the cupping”. Similar to a wine tasting, you are testing for the bouquet and the mouth taste of the blend.
Cupping Process—Why Do We Cup Coffee?:
Great coffee is about the combination of many factors including color, flavor and aroma. Coffee “cupping” is a lot like the wine tasting – it’s simply taking time to analyze the coffee. It is also used by importers, growers, roasters and many people in the coffee industry to determine crop quality and characteristics, and grading of the green coffee beans.
One of the first things you’re looking for are the two basic elements for evaluating coffee: acidity and body (you can also sense sweetness and finish).
Acidity is about how bright and lively the coffee tastes – basically your first impression.
Body refers to the fullness or richness of a coffee. It is the secondary impression, often called the “finish.” A heavy-bodied coffee will taste full, thick and syrupy, even “chewy” on the tongue, and the impression will be lasting.
These two elements are combined to describe the coffee. The first evaluation is usually “light,” “medium” and “heavy.” This is why you often hear coffee referred to as “heavy bodied, with medium acidity,” “light bodied, with good acidity,” etc.
Cupping also helps you learn how to describe coffees – taste and aroma descriptors to help you describe the tastes and aromas you experience. Does the coffee taste sweet, tangy or mild? Do you taste small hints of chocolate, vanilla, smoke, or cinnamon? The possibilities are endless.
Whether up early to do farm chores or get the Mercantile ready for business, a good cup of coffee is important fuel for the day. Watch out Starbucks!