Selecting the Beans


Getting the Best Quality Bean

Our philosophy related to finding coffee is pretty simple. . . Great Beans make Great Coffee. It seems so elementary, however our process never ends. To find the best, we have numerous people tasting a lot of coffee. However, many coffees are weeded out quickly, because any coffee must meet a long list of criteria before it even gets to the sampling table. Is it 100% Arabica? PapaNicholas uses only 100% Arabica coffee. Is it new crop, which is the freshest coffee available? PapaNicholas uses only 100% new crop coffees. Is it a "graded" coffee, meaning is it held to a higher standard by the grower and/or producer? All PapaNicholas Coffees are "graded" according to the classifications in each country of origin. For example, in Kenya we only purchase "AA" and in Colombia only Colombian Supremo. We never purchase "exchange grade" coffees. What is the milling process at origin and what other coffees are milled at the same facility? Over the years, we have realized that great coffee can be compromised by a low quality milling process. We have implemented a strict standard for coffee millers at origin which is mutually beneficial. Once a coffee passes these hurdles, we typically request a sample from the country of origin. Once a sample is received, it initially goes through a physical inspection where we look for consistency in bean size and shape, as well as check for any physical defects in the coffee. The next progression is to roast a batch of the coffee in our sample roaster, which is a scaled-down version of Big Brown, our main roaster. Once the product is roasted, it is then set up for "cupping", which is an official grading of the coffee by our own experts. The cupping process is designed to capture the "essence" of the coffee: from the aroma and specific scents of the grounds, to specific flavor profiles like acidity, smoothness and finish. The entire process is rather complex and our experts have learned over time to taste for those very specific qualities that exist in specific regions: like a citrus or grapefruit essence, or a smoky or earthy note. In short, we know what we're looking for, and when we find it, we simply know it, because truly great coffees have a way of standing out.


Selecting and Tasting for Quality

 "Cupping Coffee" is a term that any coffee aficionado understands. It is a description for the processes that surround selections of coffees from origin (producing countries) and the development of blends. At PapaNicholas we do an extensive amount of "cupping" as we work to find the source of the highest quality coffees at fair prices. Buried within each coffee bean, from each specific growing area is a complex chemistry that produces an individual flavor profile. Within these profiles are flavor characteristics which define the coffee. It takes a lot of practice to be able to develop a palate that can pick up things like subtle grapefruit tones, or a smooth acidity, and we have been practicing this skill, as a family, for over one hundred years. This tasting expertise not only allows us to find the best coffees from origin, but also helps us develop the best blends.