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Coffee

Cupping and Brewing Sessions at Noble Coyote

A regular schedule and laid-back welcome create a mini coffee academy.

The bi-monthly cupping and brewing classes held in the back of Noble Coyote Coffee Roasters are a natural extension of owners Kevin and Marta Sprague’s desire to democratize and educate in the realm of coffee. The gatherings, which convene around large tables in the back, are under the direction of Kyle Simmons, a guide with a background in science who joined the Noble Coyote team that otherwise consists of the Spragues and Tiffany, the front-of-house barista.

For several years, they had known Simmons as an enthusiast who would come over and talk coffee, Marta says. Eventually, following his obsession, Simmons “put aside the other career to get in and just really explore coffee,” doing his own cupping education on the side. And so in the new year, they opened their doors to see who might wander down to their Expo Park shop on a Saturday. A varied group, it turns out.

First Saturdays are devoted to cupping, the practice of focused tasting to identify flavors and aromas. Classes may explore a region or a process (washed vs. natural process coffees), focus on the differences between bold versus lighter roasts, or give particular attention to the fruitier spectrum of flavors. But overall, the evaluation follows the general components of a cup: fragrance/aroma, flavor, aftertaste, acidity, body, balance, sweetness … (for the full Specialty Coffee Association protocol, you can read here). It’s a casual gathering, though. Eyes wander to the bags of coffee in the corners. Some have never seen a roaster.

Third Saturdays are devoted to the more technical aspects of brewing. So far, classes have covered Aeropress and Chemex brewing, and the importance of grind size, iced pour overs. These classes are all about the technical details for the curious home brewer.

“We like to play with looking at coffee from different angles,” says Marta, always aiming to educate, help people find what they love, and—above all—make it accessible. “I think coffee culture has sort of taken on that persona of intimidation. We do this because it’s our daily life, but it sparks interest when we inspire excitement in somebody.”

We’ve had a scattering of opportunities to hone our coffee credentials over the past few years. Davis Street Espresso occasionally held workshops on alternating Fridays. Method Coffee, Houndstooth, and Weekend Coffee have all had various informal and sporadic models. For the committed, the Arlington-based Texas Coffee School holds classes ranging from barista training ($800 for one day) to latte art ($339). As of the new year, the one place in our fair city to go for regularly held (and free) sessions is Noble Coyote.

Marta has found the current 10-15 group size to be perfect: the coffee doesn’t cool off too much, people feel comfortable asking questions. The class lasts from 11-11:45 a.m. in general, depending on size and how inquisitive people are. If attendance grows, they might add a second class time, Marta says. Meanwhile, it’s 11 a.m. the first and third Saturdays. Drop in; no reservations required. This Saturday? Cupping.

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