WATCH | Any coffee roaster worth its salt will perform coffee cupping sessions. It's an immeasurable test that identifies the acids and flavor notes in coffee beans. But at Swing's Coffee in Alexandria, Virginia, the session turns into an all out science affair... with coffee slurping.
The M.E. Swing Coffee company is one of the oldest coffee institutions in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, with four different locations. The first shop opened more than 100 years ago in the District's E street corridor and the company has endured as a family business, passed along from generation to generation.
Neil Balkcom, a certified coffee guru from the Coffee Quality Institute, serves as the Director of Coffee. But what does that mean? Basically, he has a hand in everything, from traveling, to sourcing coffee, to roasting and marketing.
Swing's also hosts public coffee cupping classes where customers can slurp together.
As Balkcom told us, the coffee fruit and the process of creating coffee is as complex as winemaking. In order to extract its flavors and "full potential," he runs multiple roasting tests to determine what roast works best (i.e., light vs. medium).
They're also experimenting with a "Honey Processed" coffee, a new technique being employed by third-wave coffee roasters across the country. The method is explained in a District Coffee article. "To make honey processed coffee, producers leave some of the fruit of the coffee cherry around the bean when drying," the article says.