Lately I've been working on a coffee roasting video that I'm expecting will end up being about an hour long. Between it just taking a long time to do the editing and coming down with a cold that prevented me from recording the voice over for some time, it's taking entirely too long to put this together, during which there hasn't been much activity on my YouTube channel. Perhaps because of this, I decided to start a new video project: a weekly series where each episode focuses on a single small tip that I think can help other people working in coffee and each episode only lasts 60 seconds. I'm calling the series 60 Second Coffee Tips. Any aspect of working in coffee is fair game for tips. I showed this first video around at the recent Global Specialty Coffee Expo to get a sense of what other coffee pros thought about this and the reaction has been generally enthusiastic so hopefully people will watch these and perhaps I'll be able to get some other people to record their tips so that this isn't just me every week.
Earlier this year I was at an event going over the new SCA Green Coffee curriculum with other instructors and while we were cupping, one of the other instructors commented on my spoon rinsing technique. While cupping, it's important to rinse your spoon in between every cup to avoid cross contamination. If there are defects or a lack of uniformity on a given sample, improper rinsing will taint the quality of your observations and if you're cupping multiple coffees you can also get some contamination between samples. I have it on good authority that exactly this issue has been responsible for failing entire groups of people taking an exam to become Q graders. That's a pretty big investment in time and money to waste on such an easily avoidable mistake.
Part of the problem is that a lot of companies set themselves up for this sort of failure by using cupping bowls as rinse cups. These are often shallow cups, not always filled up very high, and when encountering this sort of setup, people are inclined to just do a quick little dip of the spoon into the cup that only rinses about half of the bowl of the spoon. That means half of the spoon is still dirty and is likely to contaminate the next cup it's used on.
There's a really easy fix for this. Use a bigger rinse cup. With a taller rinse rinse cup that's not filled all the way up, the most natural rinsing motion is to just do a nice deep dunk of the spoon into the rinse cup that fully rinses the bowl of the spoon. If you're always cupping with this sort of setup, muscle memory kicks in when you're visiting a place that's using cupping bowls as rinse cups and you get nice complete rinses there as well. Personally, I use a 16 ounce cafeteria style plastic cup like this one.
I think this helps highlight the importance of how a work space or task is set up. If there's something simple like this that can be done so that the most natural thing to do is also the right thing to do, that's a gain compared with a setup that encourages doing the wrong thing and needing to actively pay attention to avoid making a mistake, so this is an example of a more general principle: make it easy to do the right thing.
I see improper spoon rinsing during cupping really often when I travel and since the fix is so easy, I thought that this would be a good place to start with this new video series, but I've written down over 70 tips in the areas of cupping, roasting, brewing, barista, buying, and origin travel that I think can probably be covered in this short format and I'm going to try to stick to a schedule of getting one of these out every week. Since each episode is so short, this shouldn't turn into a massive time sink like the longer videos can and I'm hoping that this is a good length for viewers as well. Chances are good that I'll think of some other helpful tips as I work on this and I'll see how many episodes I end up with before I can no longer maintain that pace or until people stop watching.
If you enjoyed this first episode and think that this is something that you'd be interested in watching regularly, please subscribe to my YouTube channel. That way you can get an email every time a new episode is published. Also, feel free to share the series with others. Some people who provide training for others in coffee have asked about incorporating these videos into classes. I have no problem with people doing that either.
I'll still continue to do longer videos when I have time and ideas appropriate for that, but for now I'd rather spend that time working on building the next version of Typica.