Learn How to Cup Coffees with Industry Experts

Four bags of samples sitting on a wooden counter.

Facsimile, a new coffee subscription service by authors Scott Rao and Ryan Brown, invites members to cup and score coffees live with industry veterans.


Photos courtesy of Ryan Brown

Imagine being a coffee roaster or green buyer, experiencing the frustration of roasting coffees that initially tasted amazing to you as samples. Or, you may be a coffee professional aspiring to become a Q Grader but with no idea where to start—or how to fund the endeavor.

Facsimile Coffee founders Scott Rao and Ryan Brown can empathize with these scenarios, which is why they’ve launched this coffee subscription: to help you become a better cupper.

Facsimile Coffee is here to help people get better at cupping.

Facsimile is a monthly subscription-based project that invites members to sample four coffees live with Ryan and a special guest each month. Members have the option of either buying these as roasted coffees alone (each as a 90-gram sample) or accompanied by green coffee to roast at home.

Ryan Brown, whom many may recognize for penning Dear Coffee Buyer, found his own rhythm with tastings through scoring competition coffees. However, he admits that this experience was ultimately biased.

“The trap is that they’re usually trying to sell you something,” Ryan explains. “… We started this subscription because we wanted to help people learn to taste coffee; there’s no way of doing it alone.”

How the magic happens

During the live cuppings, typically hosted on YouTube, members watch Ryan interact with a special guest to taste, talk about, and score the coffees. The guest is ready to share insight on their own unique approaches to tasting, along with their expertise in the industry. Examples of previous guests include 2015 U.S. Barista Champ Charles Babinski, legendary producer Aida Batlle, and author Petra Veselá.

One major emphasis behind the ethos of Facsimile is uniformity. “The foundational thing about Facsimile is making sure we can make a replicate experience for each person,” Ryan explains. “So we only roast once a month, we keep it at one roast and as uniform as possible. … The idea is this is as close as possible to you being in the same room as me.”

Every month, Ryan and Scott select a handful of green coffees that vary in quality, with the intention of helping subscribers differentiate coffees of different scores. “It’s important that we show a range of flavors and qualities,” he says. “What we’re really selling is the experience of sensory evaluation of samples.”

A YouTube cupping with Ryan and Tony Konecny of Yes Plz.

After selecting the ideal samples, sourced from importers across the world, the coffees then go to Scott and Paolo Maliksi (Regalia Coffee) to roast and perfect for subscribers. However, in order to maintain the integrity of anonymity and replication, Ryan has no idea what he personally will receive in the mail prior to the live cupping. “They’re not evaluating the roast, they’re evaluating the green coffee, which is our objective,” he says.

Facsimile so far

Facsimile Coffee officially launched earlier this year in February, with an audience of around 300-400 participants. The subscriber base currently consists of mostly coffee professionals from all ends of the supply chain, from baristas to roasters to novice green buyers. Reception so far has been positive as cuppings continue to feature more special guests who offer unique experiences for each edition.

As cuppers share their own feedback (and even tasting notes), Ryan says, “Scott and I have learned a ton. Please just send an equal amount of love and hate because I can’t handle hate mail.”

You can subscribe to Facsimile here to be a part of the next cupping in October.

About Katrina Yentch 221 Articles
Katrina Yentch (she/her) is a freelance writer and Barista Magazine's Online Editor. When she's not writing, you can find her napping, cooking, and drinking whatever's on drip.