How Joyride Tastes Coffee

It's no secret that Joyride provides the world with incredibly delicious third wave coffee. But have you ever wondered how we came to select such amazing coffees?

Across the country, Joyriders take part in something known as the Encyclopedia Arabica (EA), the brain child of our President, Adam Belanich. The idea for the EA was born out of an effort to taste some really special coffee samples that our partners sent, and the desire to somehow record how Joyriders felt about those coffees. So Adam, back in the year of 2014, developed a 1 - 5 scale across 7 items that could accurately evaluate any cup of coffee.   

The Seven areas of the experience we evaluate.

The Seven areas of the experience we evaluate.

Now for you coffee connoisseurs, you're probably thinking: why not just do a standard cupping? Excellent question! Cuppings take place in an idealized setting and ignore how coffee actually tastes on a day-to-day basis. At Joyride we strive to replicate the customers experience, by making and drinking our EA coffee with the same equipment we install at our customers.

Taking it a step further, all EA coffees are tasted blind to avoid bias. Perceptions of taste may be influenced by the brand, origin, or wash method, but when we eliminate those details from the experience, we end up focusing on the cup itself. This encourages Joyriders to be more thoughtful about what they're tasting and helps us score objectively. Not to mention, it also helps us find fantastic coffees, at a better price range, to bring to our customers.

“The EA has really allowed us to be objective. To focus on the experience of drinking a cup of coffee instead of trying get an absolute truth about coffee, which doesn’t really exist. Everyone has an experience of the cup that is influenced by the mug they used, the equipment they brew on, and a million other factors.”

- Adam Belanich, President

Figuring It Out As We Go

Originally the EA had only six metrics to consider, but as more coffees were sampled Adam realized that Joyriders were scoring in a way that wasn’t representative of their experience of the product. We would enjoy a cup with some flaws, but there wasn’t a way to capture the overall impression of the sample, leading to low scores on likeable products. This lead to the addition of the seventh metric, Charisma: the “special sauce”, an overall “how much did I like it?”

Since Joyriders sample such high caliber coffees, we found that it was necessary to rebalance our standards. Every once in a while a coffee that does not meet third wave requirements will be sent down the pipeline. This keeps us grounded, and assists in creating a series of norms when tasting.

What We Have Learned

The EA has allowed Joyriders to sample over 800 coffees in the last few years, creating an intense data base. A process that traditionally takes up to 45 min (a cupping), was shortened down to a focused 5. That way, Joyriders get to taste more coffees, getting more mouths on the same cup, allowing us to see how coffee is perceived from person to person. It also helps us introduce mindful tasting into our lives on a daily basis.  The EA system can be used at any branch, simultaneously, and error free.

“Palette development is a lifelong pursuit. No matter how much you think and focus on your palette, you can always continue to improve and be more thoughtful about how you taste. You have to keep tasting no matter what. It’s a skill like anything else, and if you let it sit you’ll lose it.”

- Adam Belanich, President

When Joyride decided to create its own hot coffee line we had data to look back on and an unbiased system to help us find the best possible product for our customers. But, the EA serves more of a purpose than just for tasting coffee. In the HQ office, it is done as a group, and helps Joyriders learn how to discuss coffee in a way that others (our customers) will understand. It refocuses Joyride as a team on what our end of the day mission is: to create a healthier and more sustainable world with revolutionary beverage — sometimes one bean or tasting at a time.

By Emily Cohen, NYC Intern