Friday coffee cupping at Tazza d’Oro, Pittsburgh

Director of coffee Kirke Campbell, September 2012
Director of coffee Kirke Campbell, September 2012

Tazza d’Oro’s website claims that it has been brewing cups of gold in Pittsburgh since 1999, and I would agree. While I’ve not been in Pittsburgh since 1999, I can at least attest that this coffeeshop serves some of the most nuanced espresso I’ve ever tasted, a fact that the website attributes to Tazza d’Oro’s rigorously-trained baristas (I overheard one potential barista set up a time to take his “written coffee test” during one of my visits) and their careful attention to the act of purchasing and preparing coffee.

On Fridays at 10 AM, patrons can now learn how to better appreciate coffee both as a bean and a beverage during a free cupping held at the Tazza d’Oro on Highland Avenue, Pittsburgh. According to the authors of a Beginner’s Guide to Coffee Cupping, “cupping” is the term used to describe the professional process of evaluating different coffees to better understand their specific characteristics. Coffee traits often vary depending on regions of growth, roasting, and processing, and evaluating these qualities — especially in the form of a formal cupping — is an act usually done to ensure a good brew, as one would formally taste and evaluate a wine or a good beer.

At Tazza d’Oro, the 45-minute, hands-on, and in-depth presentation is lead by Kirke Campbell, the coffeeshop’s director of coffee purchasing and quality control. He first begins with a discussion on the origin and processing of three different coffees; then he leads into a fragrance comparison of the coffees’ dry grounds and the same grounds when poured over with hot water. Next, participants are given time to taste the coffees and talk extensively about the coffee’s flavor, acidity, body, and finish.

The coffees I tasted were from Olympia Coffee Roasting Co. from Olympia, WA, and included “La Gloria,” a washed-processed coffee from El Salvador; CODECH Tesoro de Concepcion, a washed-processed coffee from the Huehuetenango region of Guatemala; and Gedeo Worka, a natural-processed coffee from the Geodeo zone of Ethiopia. Aromas and flavors — which varied per coffee during each stage of the cupping — ranged from deep chocolate and citrus to woodsy blueberry and tart pomegranate.

After you finish the cupping, hang around at Tazza d’Oro for your own cup of coffee to sip with that dog-eared novel you’ve been wanting to read. Whether you doctor up your coffee with milk, cream, and sugar is up to you, but the flavor you find just may astound you.

Tazza d’Oro
1125 North Highland Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
(412) 362-3676

Monday-Friday, 7 AM-10 PM
Saturday-Sunday, 8 AM-10 PM

Carnegie Mellon
Gates Center 3rd Floor
Computer Science Building
Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Monday-Friday 7 AM-7PM
Closed Saturday-Sunday


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