A virtual crash course on high-quality coffee from a world-class grader
What’s the next best thing to traveling the world in search of the finest coffee beans? Learning about them from the man who did. For 20 years, Obel Hernandez Sr. visited farms around the globe, evaluating the nuances and imperfections of freshly harvested coffee beans.
In Colombia, he learned when to pick coffee fruit from a tree. In Costa Rica, he climbed mountains to understand how elevation affects a cup of coffee. In Vietnam, he learned the benefits of sunlight and the importance of fresh water.
He’ll share those “tree to cup” experiences and provide tips for tasting coffee at an upcoming series of virtual cuppings by Bean2Bean Coffee Company, the company he founded in Philadelphia in 2013.
Everybody knows a good cup of coffee when they taste one, but not always why they like it. “Coffee is very subjective” said Obel, “but knowing the differences between arabica and robusta, the roasting method, or acidity levels can make you better understand what works best for you. And in the end, that’s all that really matters because a good cup of coffee is very personal.”
Although Bean2Bean is relatively new, Obel began his journey 30 years ago with Maxwell House, still one of the world’s largest coffee distributors. “Back then, before Starbucks came on the scene, it was a totally different business.” Maxwell House purchased bags in “unheard of numbers today. Seven or eight million a year.” Obel had the privilege of traveling the world and earned his designation as a certified coffee grader (a kind of sommelier for coffee) for the New York Board of Trade, which is a big deal considering there are only 40 certified graders in the world.
As the coffee business turned toward specialty coffees, Obel got the urge to make his own way in a world he’d “fallen in love with”. By the time he founded Bean2Bean in 2013, his experience made for some high-quality coffee. “With commercial coffees, you can have upwards of 200 plus flavor defects (i.e. noticeable imperfections from coffee growing, processing, or roasting), but our beans have zero to 8 defects at the most.”
Taste for yourself at the virtual cuppings, where “you’ll have three different cups, with three different origins of coffee,” said Obel, “some blends and some single-origin coffees, like a Colombian or Guatemalan.” You’ll also get cupping spoons and a flavor wheel. After steeping coffee grinds in hot water, you’ll take in the aroma, and then start tasting. In addition to info about the coffee origins, you’ll be able to take your own notes.
“So if they’re tasting our Schuylkill Select, there’s a column for aroma, overall flavor and whatever other characteristics they’re picking up, including the body and the acidity.” Obel will compare notes with students while taking them “all the way from the farm down to the cup of coffee that they’re experiencing.”
Obel guarantees you won’t see coffee the same way again, but won’t take the blame “if you get hooked on Bean2Bean.”
Virtual Cuppings with Obel Hernandez Sr.
Learn how to cup, compare tasting notes, and talk about all things coffee. This class is designed for folks of all sensory skill levels, from first-timers to seasoned professionals. You’ll leave the Zoom meeting caffeinated and equipped with the skill to identify the subtleties of coffee and a better sense of your coffee preferences.
What you get: An At-Home Cupping Kit, complete with a cupping spoon, cupping bowl, three different 3oz samples of Bean2Bean coffee, a flavor wheel, and cupping instructions.
How to enroll: Email Obel Hernandez, Jr.
Cost: $65/person (minimum of 4 people)
Need Beans in a Hurry? Next Day Delivery Is Here
Visit bean2bean.com for your next day needs:
● 11 different varieties to choose from
● Multiple different sizes, origins, and more
● Coffees for cold brew, handmade mugs, non-dairy creamers, and tasty snacks
● Free delivery for orders $25 and up
Bean2Bean Coffee Company
3451 Edgemont St.