Whether your coffee lover is live-in or long-distance, try a coffee tasting to change up your stay-at-home date nights.
BY KATRINA YENTCH
BARISTA MAGAZINE ONLINE
Cover photo by Rene Porter for Unsplash
With the emphasis on no-touch contact, dating has easily been one of the biggest social struggles of the last year. And coffee cuppings. So what are some ways that we can make extremely anti-COVID activities not only possible, but romantic too? Just hear us out when we say that a virtual cupping can be the perfect Valentine’s Day plan for coffee lovers who are missing their usual café dates.
Rancho Cucamonga’s Klatch Coffee and Coffee Project in New York City are two small coffee businesses that have brainstormed unique ways for their customers to host Valentine’s Day cuppings. “It’s a fun, interactive, delicious (and possibly new) way to experience coffee together,” says Holly Perry, director of retail at Klatch. They’ve also got some fun tips for how to make your own experience special, romantic, and calibrated.
Be flexible. Not many of us have the cupping spoons, bowls, and other gadgets necessary for your typical standardized coffee tasting. “Get a few similar-sized cups/bowls and some soup spoons (cupping spoons will be ideal, of course),” advises Sum Ngai, co-founder of Coffee Project. “It would be great to have a scale and measure.” There’s a lot of room for creativity in the kitchen, and that extends to your cookware too. Food scales do half the job of scales labeled for coffee measuring. Try to use ramekins in place of cupping bowls. I personally love to use my Chinese soup spoons (tong gang in Cantonese) as cupping spoons, and they do an efficient job of scooping coffee grounds off the top of the bowl.
Set the mood. Play some music, and if you’re not cupping coffees from the same room, make sure your playlists are synced together. Light some candles (probably unscented in this case), take your Christmas lights back out, or pick a fun Zoom background that reminds you and your date of a shared memory. Put some flowers on the table. It may seem a little goofy at first, but the more personal you try to make this experience, the more unique the coffee cupping will be from any you’ve participated in before. “Honestly, the most important part is doing the activity with the other person,” says Sum. “Play your favorite café music in the background while doing the activity and remind each other what you love about them.”
Add some pairings. Coffee pairings typically include plenty of other romantic edibles you’d enjoy on a V-Day date together. Klatch Coffee is including ingredients to bake chocolate strawberry scones in their tasting kit, and Coffee Project has options for macarons and coffee candles or sensory-oriented gummies in their sets. Some popular pairings we’ve seen with coffee include dark chocolate, doughnuts, wine, beer, candy, fruits, and cheeses. Your options are seriously unlimited, and you can even do some research to determine what coffee region would pair well with a particular food variety. Perhaps you can even taste a Guatemalan coffee with a single-origin Guatemalan chocolate.
Experiment a little/treat yo’self. If you’ve been curious about those experimental processing methods or you haven’t tasted a Gesha yet, this is the time to do that. Heck, make it a Gesha tasting! Many roasters these days often sell their pricier coffees in smaller quantities to make them more affordable. By cupping rare coffees, you won’t feel the pressure of brewing them with the right ratio. For beginning cuppers, Sum also recommends cupping coffees from different regions side-by-side to experiment with your tasting capabilities.
Valentine’s Day may be a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your dating life on hold. By incorporating activities into our stay-at-home routines, we can hold on just a little longer before those coffee-shop dates become a reality again.