A news blog for Seattle's Phinney Ridge and Greenwood neighborhoods


Tony’s Coffee opens training center in Phinney, offers Friday ‘cuppings’

May 1st, 2012 · Comments

Bellingham-based Tony’s Coffees & Teas recently opened a staff training center in Phinney Ridge, at 7001 3rd Ave. NW. Starting at 12 p.m. this Friday, they plan to have weekly “cuppings.”

Tony’s training center is on the far left.

“The cupping will be informal and anyone who loves coffee or is interested in learning more about the world of coffee, is welcome to drop in,” David Yake told us by email. “Cuppings usually run anywhere from 30-45 minutes, but folks are welcome to linger afterward.”

Tony’s lead roaster, Andrew Bowman, will be coming down from Bellingham for the cupping, which will feature coffees from Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Honduras, El Salvador, and maybe Panama. They will feature Tony’s roasted coffee, as well as coffee from other roasters that they like.

Tony’s has about a dozen different brewing machines, and the staff are happy to demonstrate them to anyone who wants to stay after the cupping.

“Our plan is to hold cuppings every Friday afternoon, unless we announce otherwise via Facebook or Twitter,” Yake said.

Tags: Uncategorized


  1. RA says:

    So the training covers … how to brew coffee? how to drink it? where coffee comes from? all of the above?

  2. Syd says:

    RA… cupping coffee refers to a specific way to taste coffee. Coffee is ground, placed in a cup (no filter, no nothing), and water between the temperature of 195-205 F is poured over grounds. The grounds rise to the top of the cup to create a crust and you wait a wee while (about 1-2 mintues). At this time, you break the crust of the coffee with a spoon, scoop some coffee on the spoon, and taste it (usually slurping it loudly from the spoon).

    Throughout the process—from the grinding to the pouring to the breaking of the crust to the sipping— you evaluate the aroma and then the flavor of the coffee. (Aroma has a lot to do with flavor.)

    Usually, you evaluate/taste multiple cups of coffee during the cupping so you can compare and contrast flavor and aroma across coffees.

    For specialty coffee companies, coffee cuppings are how a coffee buyer decides to buy a particular coffee. The cupping process highlights the best (or worst) in a coffee and is done multiple times throughout the buying process (e.g. at the farm, before it’s shipped, after it’s shipped, at the roaster) to make sure the quality of the bean has not been compromised.

    My interpretation of the article is that the demonstration of the brewing machines is separate from the coffee cupping (i.e. a coffee cupping typically does not cover how to brew coffee). How you prepare you coffee can affect its flavor and aroma, so the more you know, the better your coffee will taste!

    At a good cupping, they’ll tell you about the coffee: where it’s from, typical flavors that the region produces, typical flavors and aromas that the type of bean produces, the farm where the coffee is from (if it’s from a single farm), etc.

    If you like coffee and are interested in learning more, a coffee cupping is a great learning experience.

    Full disclosure: I am *not* affiliated with Tony’s or any other coffee company. I am a coffee geek/nerd/snob and really love coffee.

  3. David says:

    RE: RA, see Syd’s response.
    RE: Syd, great response!
    I will be hosting the cupping on Friday and agree with most everything that Syd wrote. Great description of the cupping process! The only correction I would make would be that we typically wait 14-18 minutes before we take our first slurp, otherwise you risk burning your taste buds off. We are, however, evaluating the aroma of the coffee from the get-go, as Syd mentioned. We will have the different brewing gadgets out, and are happy to answer questions or fire up a brew or two after the cupping, if people are interested. And as a side-note: the whole cupping process may seem very involved, but please understand that this will be a very informal cupping and everyone is welcome, regardless of your experience with coffee/cuppings. We are simply tasting coffees and then talking about what we taste and like/dislike. Hope to see you there, Sid & RA … and others!