Coffee cupping is the process of observing and evaluating the various tastes, aromas, and characteristics of a particular type of coffee.
So your office isn’t quite at coffee geek level, but your colleagues do appreciate a well made cup of coffee. Maybe you’re also looking for a fun activity to get everyone out of their everyday routine and trying something new and exciting. A team coffee cupping session is a great idea – it’s interactive, fun and incredibly cheap to run.
But organising an office coffee cupping session also shows that, as an employer or manager, your team’s interests, education and workplace wellbeing are important to you. Care can be as simple an act as showing a genuine interest in employees’ hot drink habits, and everyone wants to work in a place where they feel cared about.
Workplace wellbeing has never been more at the fore of modern offices. Smart employers are placing this concept more and more towards the heart of team operations, but if you’re conscious about the cost, there are small, very cost-efficient steps that can create a huge impact.
A coffee cupping session where groups dissect the flavours and aromas of different coffee varieties or brewing methods can be a great activity to get bums off seats and encourage engagement between different teams across the workforce, no matter how big or small. Not only will staff have a greater knowledge of coffee’s subtleties, they’ll also take greater pride in their workplace, because let’s face it – great workplaces and great coffee go hand in hand.
Gather everyone and give them a fun activity away from the draining glare of the computer screen for an hour. It’s cheap to run, easy to organise and pretty much mess-free. If you’re looking for a team building activity or staff session that’s kind to the budget, easy to assemble and won’t require excessive elements and clean up, this ticks all the boxes. Even team members who aren’t really coffee fans might want to learn about the flavour differences and may even be converted to a cup of joe!
Leave some nibbles out like plain crackers, slices of green apple or very mild-flavoured cheese to cleanse everyone’s palate before moving through the tasting, plus ensure there’s ample water too.
Supply a couple of pens and notepads or leave small pieces of paper at each jug of freshly brewed coffee and get your tasters to write down the flavours they find. We believe our Arabica beans, sustainably sourced in Ethiopia, provide a wide range of tastes and flavour profiles, with variety from the age and roast to the grind and brew. Guide them through the process, but this isn’t about broadcasting your personal knowledge, it’s about bringing out knowledge within others. Ask open questions to encourage participation and true tasting. How roasted does each cup taste? Light and subtle? Heavy and dominant? Are there any particular flavours you can pick out? Nuts? Floral notes? Chocolate? Without tasting, smell the coffee – what’s the aroma like? Which is the most bitter? Which cup could you continue to drink again and again?
If deciphering the flavours of beans is a step too far, start with brewing methods. Use the same beans and brew different ways – drip filter, Aeropress, espresso, moka pot, added milk, extra hot water, additional sugar. Discuss in groups or altogether what the subtle or more noticeable differences are and what was everyone’s preference. A surefire way to foster greater appreciation of coffee’s subtleties. Plus, it’s a great way to gauge what style of coffee the office prefers to keep in stock for the future!
Another experiment, which veers slightly into the more technical and precise path, is grind size. Use the exact same beans and grind to different sizes. Use one or two methods of brewing and try it with several different size of grounds particles. Do you notice a different in the taste? How about the look of the finished coffee? Was the brewing process harder? Easier? Interrupted? or did it flop altogether?
Nothing makes staff members engaged like an incentive to win over their colleagues and claim a prize! For an added bit of fun, make it a competition – whoever guesses the flavours, roast levels or coffee bean origins most wins a prize, like a gift voucher, an extra hour’s paid lunch break or an introductory barista course at a local coffee school.
Reveal the beans and all of the information about them at the end of the session, from the origin country to how they had been handled and roasted. Pick out some key points about the different cups and compare with what the tasters found. As in every exercise or project – ask for feedback. Is this something the team(s) would like to do again? Was it informative and fun? How could it be improved or implemented on a more regular basis? Most importantly: give yourself a gold star for organising it!
Of course, we’re biased because we can’t think of a better way to spend an hour or so than tasting different types of coffee on company time. What’s not to love? Aside from being a delicious and fun activity in the office, it’s also a great team building exercise injecting a little more energy and intrigue into the daily grind.