As an importer of green beans, cupping is central to the quality programme at LCM and is serious, albeit enjoyable work. Anita Leung, LCM’s new Quality Assurance Manager: “Cupping is the framework for assessing our coffees and provides a common language to discuss and compare its characteristics with customers.
“We track the quality and performance of our beans over time: from the washing station at origin, before the coffee is shipped, upon arrival at our warehouses and if there is any left, at three monthly intervals to ensure the beans’ performance holds up – but more often than not, it’s already sold out by then,” says Anita.
In addition to cupping, Anita is responsible for sample roasting, providing support to our sales team, maintaining the new South Melbourne Sensory Laboratory, curating our range of LCM Selects and working directly with producers to help them improve their own quality programs year on year.
A veteran of 15 years in the coffee industry, Anita previously worked as a barista and head roaster. On what attracted her to make the move to green beans, Anita says: “The opportunity to cup and roast so many coffees from different origins, different varieties and processing methods, is unique.”
Initially more of a tea drinker, Anita was converted to coffee when she tried a “vibrant” Ethiopian Yirgacheffe: “I was blown away by the fruit notes, in particular apricots and blueberries,” she says, discovering that in comparison to tea there was “more complexity and flavour nuance. In the same way terroir comes through in wine, you can really taste the origin of coffee,” says Anita.
A keen cupper, Anita has honed her impressive ability to identify and appreciate distinctive flavour profiles over time: “It’s all about familiarising yourself with different tastes and aromas, and importantly, learning how to articulate that.”
She recommends: “Start by consciously smelling and tasting things like lemon, grapefruit, green apples, dark chocolate and butter biscuits – these are some of the more common profiles you’ll come across in coffees.” You can learn more about SCA cupping here in our How to Guide.
And what is Anita loving drinking right now? “I’m really excited about some of the microlots we’ve been cupping from Ecuador – the flavours tend to have lower acidity with fruit notes of apricots and mangos, but high in sweetness. Some of the best lots have floral characteristics, are incredibly well-balanced and satisfying to drink”.
If you are in Melbourne, we’d love to show you our new laboratory, roasting room and climate-controlled warehouse facilities. Alternately, we can arrange to cup with you at your business or warehouse. Send green or roasted samples to you via post. Contact us here.