Now before we start on the food, we want to share a little about cupping. For the uninitiated and very very simply put, coffee cupping refers to an in-depth tasting of notes in brewed coffee. M and I are not experts in this field but we have been very lucky to get to know people who have very kindly shared information with us, as with Dave from Sun Ray Cafe.
To start the session, Dave introduced us to "Le Nez Du Cafe". This is an encyclopaedia of all the notes you can find in your coffee. By encyclopaedia, we really mean a bag of magic because it comes with vials of all the aromas too!
We proceeded to learning a little about how good coffee beans look like. Pre-roasted coffee beans are green before turning on the gorgeous brown as we often see our beans. Good coffee houses are very particular with their selection of farms from which beans are produced and some places are purveyors of single origin coffee using beans from specific farms. Every region of the world produces beans which are differing in notes and body due to the nature of the different environments but even so, the beans may surprise you sometimes!
So the next time you start getting your coffee, start remembering the different tastes of the regions where the beans are from - it will help you make a much better decision on which coffee to get rather than asking the waiter "what's good here?".
They prepared some V60 brews (V for the shape and 60 for the angle) for us. The brewing method involves pouring a well-controlled stream of boiled water through ground beans through a filter. This is one of my favourite method of preparation as it gives a very balanced cup (that's why a controlled stream of water is important) that works for people who might be new to trying brewed coffee. V60 brews should always be prepared with freshly ground coffee which gives a nice dome, called a "bloom", when the first batch of the water is poured into the filter. The barista then continues pouring a suitable amount of water which then filters though and when ready, the filtered ground coffee sinks into a nice even cone. (Watch your barista in action!)
Now on to the main part, the tasting itself. Instead of the regular drinking from the cup, you take a spoon of the brew and slurp it very quickly so the aroma and mouthfeel spreads to the back of the tongue. (We usually just sip through teaspoons in our regular cafe trips instead.) Wash your tongue with clean water in between cups. Take time to feel the nuanced notes! Some key points people look out for:
- acidity: the tanginess which may be similar to lemons, oranges or grapefruits.
- body: different beans and different brewing methods creates different mouthfeel. Syphon brewing often gives a lighter touch which is closer to tea. French press tends to give a heavier body. African beans are usually light while Indonesian ones are heavier. (We say usually but you can get a lot more technical or specific which we will not get into here!)
- flavours: you can really taste amazing notes in your coffee. notes like chocolate and caramel are very common for most cafes in SG but there are also interesting ones like fresh grass, cinnamon and tobacco even!
Everything we shared above are really, really basic stuff that we have learnt about. We are constantly learning how to better appreciate coffee still. Many people may ask what makes a good cup of coffee but I believe it is more about finding a place that does it to your preference - which means you need to understand what exactly makes up for your preferred cup of coffee!
Now back to the cafe experience. Sun Ray Cafe is a dog-friendly cafe with a no-pets section. The place is well-lit with many different seating options for you to choose from. The menu offers an impressive number of mains which makes for good hearty lunch and dinner options.
Mushroom soup had an infusion of cream and drizzle of truffle oil that makes for a creamy body to the soup with a lingering aroma of the truffle. Quite nicely pulled-off.
If it is not obvious that we are fans of truffle oil, let's make it clear that we are fans and Sunray cafe's truffle fries done with skinny fries are really yummy.
M is a huge fan of breakfast plates and she gave thumbs up to the full plate she got here.
Pastas are well-executed here and we enjoyed the Aglio Olio. We had other pasta in our other trips and they all are pretty much good - notable since they have a proper full-time chef working on the menu.
Of course, how can we not do a meal here without some of their coffee? Different baristas differ slightly in skills but we can vouch for Dave's work at the machine.
We came by a few other times and found a hidden gem in their smoothies. The cafe has also amped up on a huge selection of cakes on their dessert offerings. This just means we need to be back soon!
Sun Ray Cafe79 Brighton Crescent
Tel: +65 6283 8700
Sun Ray holds coffee brewing classes, just e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to enquire!
We were invited by Dave and his team for the cupping session. All other food and drinks are not sponsored.
(Photoset by green tea fields & words by PlentyOfPretty.)