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?
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.
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