Tasting or "Cupping" Coffee : Memorizing vs. Tasting

Furthermore, conditions in growing countries change in ways beyond the control of any roaster or importer. A coffee from a certain heretofore reliable estate, cooperative, region, or even country may become unavailable or suddenly deteriorate in quality, sending a buyer scurrying for a substitute that may be sold under the same name as the now unavailable original.

Finally, there is always the question of whether a coffee actually is a Sumatra Mandheling, or a Yemen Mattari, or a Jamaica Blue Mountain. Particularly with high-priced coffees, a temptation exists at every step, from the exporter to the importer to the roaster, to substitute lower-priced or more readily available coffees for those represented in signs and brochures. Or, as may be the case with Jamaica Blue Mountain, to expand the definition of Blue Mountain to include lower-grown coffees that would not have merited that designation ten or twenty years ago. Thus, coffee thrusts the consumer into a more active, and possibly more satisfying, role than does wine, but frustrates those who might prefer memorizing to tasting.