Hidden House mid cupping Photo by Ryan Beitler
By Ryan Beitler
Five men surround the lone table inside Hidden House Coffee, a small yellow building blanketed by trees and bustle that sits across the train tracks in San Juan Capistrano's Los Rios District. Here amongst the distant noises of passing travelers, street performers, and the cackle of hand roasted coffee, the men are discussing their next business deal.
They are preparing for a coffee sampling process known as a "cupping," which is a standardized way to taste coffee. For a cupping, they grind the beans, pour hot water over them in thick glass cups, and wait four minutes. When the timer goes off, the group "breaks the crust" that gathers at the top of the liquid before ritualistically sniffing and tasting the coffees with cupping spoons. When the crust is broken, the enhanced aroma of the coffees punctures the air. They go around the table first to sniff each of the nine coffees, and then to taste them.More »