Cupping: It Only Sounds Dirty Here! Coffee Quality Control w/ Coffeenistas. espresso NEAT–Darien, CT

9 Apr

Rachel pouring out some H2O and setting the brew time

We are straight up coffee/espresso/caffeine addicts so we’ve been dying to hit up espresso NEAT in Darien for quite a while.  So what finally drew us in?  Well, CT Bites plugged a coffee cupping going on Saturday, 4/2/11.  So we figured, hey, it’s coffee, it’s a tasting, it’s free, what other reasons did we need really?

Insert nose and sniff

To begin, we were greeted by Rachel and Kyle’s (true coffeenistas) smiling faces. Rachel then went on to tell us what a cupping is: essentially a process meant to spot defects in coffee.  This immediately brought espresso NEAT up to a higher level of coffee consciousness because you don’t meet baristas too skilled in the art of cupping and with extensive coffee knowledge.  She then went through the order of the cupping:

1)  There were four stations with “shots” of ground coffee inside.  First you take the deepest kind of sniff, almost obnoxiously.  There was a chart on the wall to help us to pick up the “dry aromas” in the coffee as we wrote them down.

2)  Kyle then poured water in the grinds and let it steep for a few minutes.  They didn’t let it steep too long, though, because that would have brought out more acidity in the beans.

3)  We “broke the skin” of the coffee by pushing the grounds down a bit and taking in some huge whiffs.  What kind of “wet aromas” were there?  We jotted more notes.

Broken skin, ready for some sippin' and slurpin'

4)  Last of all, we took a spoon and slurped the hell out of the coffee, one station at a time.  To really get the flavor going, you needed to slosh it around in your mouth.  Not pretty, but you get more of a clear indicator of what the tastes are.  Even prettier?  We spit out the coffee into a cup when we were done so as to not spoil our taste buds.  Well, I did, but Kristien just drank it being the coffee addict she is. We looked for and wrote about the body, acidity, and tasting notes.

Here are the four coffees that were cupped:

Station 1:  Bolivia.  Caramel dry fragrance, with a flowery and caramel wet aroma.  Light body, low acidity, and caramel flavor.  Verdict:  too light for us. :)  This, though, is a great cup for people who aren’t really coffee people, per se.  It’s light, it’s flavorful, but it’s not overpowering at all.

Station 2:  Rwanda.  Susceptible to a “potato” defect that spoils the bean with a pungent potato smell.  Cupping is definitely needed here and sometimes they get rid of beans because they want to serve the best kind of quality coffee.  The dry fragrance had a smoky smell, while the wet aroma was a bit nutty and chocolatey.  This coffee had a light-medium body with low acidity.  There was a smoky taste behind the Rwanda and it had a medium aftertaste.  This was good, but still a bit too light for us.

Station 3:  Peru.  There were dry aromas of nutty and chocolatey flavors, while the wet aromas were herbal and syrupy.  This bad boy had a medium body to it with low-medium acidity.  Hints of a caramel hit our tongues as we tasted this and we enjoyed the strong aftertaste.  This was our favorite coffee bean of the day.  ;)

Station 4: Tanzania.  There was a hazlenutty, nutty, and spicy dry aroma all around while sniffing the Tanzania.  When the water was poured in, we smelt earthy, herbal, and chocolatey scents.  This was the most acidic of all the coffees with just around the same body as the Peru.  Although the aftertaste was light, big flavors of ash and chocolate swept throughout the coffee.

Afterwards we had a killer quinoa salad that made our day so bright and shiny.  So, you not only have great drinks, but also great sandwiches, snacks, bakery items, and chocolate.  Even greater?  Their food supplies come from local places, too.    Also, Kristien had a flavorful iced tea that she adored and I had a great iced coffee, full of lots of depth.  espresso NEAT is the kind of place you should go to, hang out in, and bask in its glory.  If you’re willing, there’s lots to learn about the coffee they serve there if you just ask.  Coffee shop doesn’t seem to do this place justice…coffee emporium, coffee circus, coffee bonanza?  Something like that.

espresso NEAT
Phone: (203) 202-7215
Address: 20 Grove Street
Darien, CT 06820
Hours: Monday-Saturday:  7AM to 6PM
Sunday:  8AM to 4PM

espresso NEAT on Urbanspoon

13 Responses to “Cupping: It Only Sounds Dirty Here! Coffee Quality Control w/ Coffeenistas. espresso NEAT–Darien, CT”


  1. Insider’s Look at NEAT of Westport: Part Cafe, Part Cocktail Bar, 100% Awesome | OmNomCT - July 7, 2014

    […] Espresso NEAT has built a reputation in Fairfield County as being at the top of their game.  Year after year, they’ve been awarded best cafe and best coffee, and after you’ve gone there, you can see why.  Owner Rachel Haughey and her crew pick their coffee beans with care and perform routine coffee cuppings to ensure that only the best quality coffee will be served at their Darien hotspot.  And, that quality comes through big time.  Add in their other options like tea, espresso, coffee, salads, snacks, breakfast goodies, and sandwiches, and you’ve got the perfect spot to hang out or grab a quick bite.   […]


  2. New Year’s Eve Bashes Paired with Hangover Breakfast Spots – Fairfield County, CT | OmNomCT - December 23, 2013

    […] espresso NEAT:  coffee always helps, so why not drink a few gallons worth here?  Plus, check out their fresh breads and baked goods. […]


  3. Epicly Awesome: Greenwich Wine + Food Festival 2013 | OmNomCT - August 28, 2013

    […] Islands, Hudson Grille, Harvest Wine Bar & Restaurant, NEAT Artisan Coffee, Napa & Company, NoMa Social Restaurant and Lounge, Nothin’ But […]


  4. Latte Art Competition and Live Music @ espresso NEAT in Darien | OmNomCT - June 14, 2013

    […] officially summer in Darien when espresso NEAT opens their beautiful outdoor patio.  So, what better way to kick it off than with some live music […]


  5. The Best Warm Weather Outdoor Dining Restaurants in Fairfield County | OmNomCT - April 10, 2013

    […] espresso NEAT (Full outdoor courtyard.  Have some drinks, salads, and sandwiches) […]


  6. 2nd Annual OmNomys Celebrates 2012′s Best Food in Fairfield County | Bistro 7 - February 9, 2013

    […] Coffee: espresso NEAT, Darien and […]


  7. 2nd Annual OmNomys Celebrates 2012′s Best Food in Fairfield County « OmNomCT - December 30, 2012

    […] Coffee: espresso NEAT, Darien and […]


  8. From Brisket, to Cornbread, to Ribs: Dinosaur Bar-b-que Roars into Stamford – Exclusive First Tastes « OmNomCT - December 5, 2012

    […] some Hooker and both the Half Full Bright Ale and Half Full Chocolate Coffee Brown Ale made with espresso NEAT Ethiopian coffee.  We give four thumbs up to the […]


  9. espresso NEAT Pouring out Awesomeness @ New Spot in Greenwich, CT « OmNomCT - November 12, 2012

    […] and workers of Greenwich, your day has come.  Yes, you now have your very own espresso NEAT (see our cupping post).  The award winning coffee shop that has become a go-to coffee destination for people in Darien […]


  10. OmNomCT Presents Top Ten Tips for Surviving Sandy « OmNomCT - October 29, 2012

    […] Get your coffee and espresso fix at Espresso NEAT in Darien…they’ve got a generator that’s run purely on caffeine.  Well, not […]


  11. The First Annual OmNomys: Celebrating 2011′s Best Food in Lower Fairfield County! « OmNomCT - December 14, 2011

    […] Coffee:  espresso NEAT, […]


  12. After the leftovers expire, check out Darien Restaurant Week « OmNomCT - November 22, 2011

    […] Doughnut, espresso NEAT, Heights Pizza, Robeks Juice, Upper Crust Bagel Co. Bakery & Café OmNom about […]


  13. Catch the Buzz at espresso NEAT with a Coffee 101 Class! Darien, CT « OmNomCT - October 20, 2011

    […] going to teach you all about the liquid dark gold that makes our life worth living?  Cue espresso NEAT in Darien.  They took us on a cupping adventure a few months ago, but now […]


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