Kitchen & Cooking

This virtual coffee tasting is the social event I needed

Time to geek out on coffee from the comfort of your home.

A virtual coffee tasting setup including a laptop streaming the class, clear cupping glasses with colored labels filled with the different coffees, and the corresponding colored coffee bean bags from Driftaway. Credit: Driftaway Coffee

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, I’ve become an avid online class taker—from an espresso master class to a cheese tasting, these classes are filling the gap in my much-needed social life.

For folks who work in the coffee industry, cupping can be exciting, but it’s also very common—traditionally, this is when the buyers check the quality of a batch of beans before committing to a big order. As quarantine led to a boom in online classes, virtual cupping sessions began popping up on my social feed, and the one by Driftaway caught my eye.

What is Driftaway?

Beans
Credit: Driftaway Coffee

Driftaway offers a unordinary subscription model—you get four different varieties to try before deciding on which one is your favorite.

Co-founded by Suyog Mody and Anu Menon, Driftaway is an independent coffee roasting company based in Brooklyn, New York. The brand was born out of frustration that freshly roasted coffee wasn’t widely available. Today, Driftaway has grown from a spark of a business idea to one of the most popular coffee subscriptions in the U.S.

Driftaway’s subscription model stands out from other coffee subscriptions we’ve tested because subscribers receive four different varieties of beans in their first box and then decide which one is their favorite. If you’re not sure about comparing each variety by yourself, you can tune into Driftaway’s Instagram live every Saturday to watch the guided tasting led by Driftaway’s coffee experts.

What happens in a Driftaway coffee tasting class?

The Driftaway virtual coffee tasting class is structured similarly to an in-person coffee cupping session, a practice for assessing the aroma and taste of coffee. Coffee producers and buyers use this method to check the quality of each batch of coffee and give scores to certain aspects of the coffee such as sweetness, acidity, and mouthfeel.

For regular coffee drinkers, a coffee tasting class is typically held as a private event at a roasters.

How does virtual coffee tasting work?

How does it work
Credit: Driftaway Coffee

Driftaway will send you most things you'll need for the tasting session.

First, you’ll pick a date and session. Each session can host up to nine users, so this is a great chance to include your friends, family, or even your coworkers for some virtual hang time. Then, you’ll need to provide your address so Driftaway can send the coffee tasting kits to you.

Each kit includes four unlabeled coffees, cupping glasses (special glasses made for tasting coffee), a coffee wheel with helpful vocabulary, and a chart for you to write down your own notes in each step of the tasting. In addition to the tasting kit, you’ll need to prepare a few spoons and some cups filled with water so you can rinse the spoons in between tasting rounds.

All virtual tastings are led by James McCarthy, who has just short of two decades of professional experience in specialty coffee, ranging from barista to manager to roaster. He was also the 2013 World Brewer’s Cup Champion.

McCarthy’s passion for coffee education and approachable style make him the perfect person to lead these tasting sessions. I was a bit intimidated before I signed up; however, my experience was quite the contrary to my expectation—the class was educational and informative, and I finally learned the proper vocabulary to describe my coffee preferences!

The class was formatted in a way that felt interactive and relaxed—I was able to ask questions throughout the session. McCarthy showed up like an old friend, but with a massive amount of knowledge on coffee and ready to take questions.

Is a virtual coffee tasting right for me?

Guidedtasting
Credit: Driftaway Coffee

If you and your friends are curious about coffee, this class will be a fun activity for everyone.

If you and your loved ones share a passion for coffee, then this interactive tasting experience may be right for you. Not only do these unique classes give you a rare glimpse into how professionals sample various beans, but they also educate you on how to find the perfect coffee that suits your palette.

Just like wine and cheese, a delightful cup of coffee involves dedication and hard work from everyone in the supply chain—from coffee farmers to roasters to baristas. And as we’re still social distancing to save lives, this private virtual class is a great way to connect with your friends and family while sipping on some quality coffee.

Book a virtual coffee tasting at Driftaway starting at $50 per participant

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