80plus Specialty Coffee - Visit and Cupping
I am quite a newbie when it comes to specialty coffee. In Barcelona, many people are true experts, and it can be a subject that can be somewhat intimidating, don't you think? But when we got the possibility to visit 80plus coffee roasters and get to know more about the world of specialty coffee, I was excited.
80plus is quite a new company by a family that has more than a hundred years of experience with coffee, isn't that amazing? The grandfather of the owner, Jordi Marcilla, began his career in coffee when he was merely 12 years old, selling coffee door to door in Barcelona. 4 years later, his business had grown so much that he hired his own father to help him out, and the rest is history. They created the famous coffee brand Marcilla, that was eventually sold. A few years later, they opened their own new business, Dibarcafé, and a few years ago, they developed the specialty coffee brand 80plus. How many specialty coffee brands can say they have such a solid history and expertise behind them?
We took the opportunity to see their production facilities, and how much care is taken of the product. Specialty coffee requires an entirely different level of care and attention in every part of the process. A large part of the work starts at the plantation and goes on until the cup you are served in the coffee shop or that you'll be brewing at home. Coffee beans are acquired from different places of the world, depending on the season. Did you know that during any time of the year it's coffee bean season somewhere in the world?
80plus is also continually working on improving their packaging materials. Not only having compostable bags matters, but also educating people on what to do with the bags after using them. Compostable bags have to be placed in the organic waste bin so that it can be degraded in industrial compost machines that have particular bacteria in it. So to close the life cycle of this kind of product, it is not enough just to throw it out, but to find a needed container.
After visiting the roastery, we headed towards their lab to learn more about coffee itself and to taste it. Did you know that there are two prominent families of coffee: Arabica and Robusta? Arabica has a more complex and pleasant taste profile, whereas Robusta gives more cream in espresso and usually has a more substantial body. Nowadays speaking about specialty coffee, we refer to Arabica, although research and extensive fieldwork are being done to bring Robusta up to high standards. The Robusta plant can survive in harsher conditions, while the Arabica plant is more delicate and often require higher altitudes.
The 80plus team had prepared an amazing tasting for us, and for the first time ever I participated in a cupping! This is very interesting: if you ever have the opportunity to do this I really recommend it! We had 6 different varieties of coffee from different parts of the world. The beans were first ground, and we could smell widely different aromas. From there hot water (the temperature is essential here!) was poured over the beans and infused for a while. Here we took a spoon and put our noses as close as possible to the cup while moving the ground beans (breaking the crust) in the water and smelling each cup like this again.
The next step in the cupping was removing the ground beans remaining on the surface and tasting the infusion. This requires a specific technique: while you taste it, you simultaneously inhale air, by making a slurping noise. This has a similar effect as when you try a wine: to help your senses take in all the information and make the most of the tasting experience. Very interesting. Again, the taste of each coffee was widely different, depending on the region. We tasted the coffees several times, in different temperatures, and you could notice how the flavor changed.
You would also look for defects in this process: little bottles of defect smells were available for us to test. A potato or an earthy smell can, for example, be defects in coffee.
Finally, the team made us an espresso with one of the coffees, and it was absolutely divine..! So well-rounded and beautiful, with lovely citrusy acidity. The world of coffee is incredibly fascinating, and there is so much to learn. 80plus puts a lot of effort into creating an excellent quality product and makes sure to train the baristas that work with their specialty coffee so that the final product is exactly what you would wish for: respect for the process all the way to the coffee cup.
Barcelona is a wonderful city for specialty coffee (find my list of 40 places to drink specialty coffee here), and if you would like to learn more, the baristas are usually delighted to help you. If you would like to try 80plus coffee you can get it, among other places, in the following cafes: Alsur Café, Black Remedy, Somewhere Café, Auto Rosellón, Delacrem, Demasié, and many more.
I admire the knowledge and the dedication behind the brand, they have more than 100 years of history and are very passionate about what they are doing! Read here to find out more about 80plus.