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Meet The Man Who Tests Coffee

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SHAKOPEE, Minn. (WCCO) — A Twin Cities man with a unique job has found his niche drinking coffee for a living. Patrick Dinkins calls coffee a mix of science and art. He loves the process, the taste and, of course, the aroma.

You could go as far as saying Dinkins has a magic nose. His sense of smell is so keen he can smell where coffee was grown. Dinkins says coffee from Brazil smells different than coffee gown in Honduras.

“Because the soil is different, the amount of rain they get, the sun they get,” said Dinkins, who is the Roast Master at Cameron’s Coffee in Shakopee.

His daily grind is testing each batch that comes off the line at Cameron’s roasting facility in Shakopee. Dinkins primary job is to make sure each Breakfast Blend, Donut Shop, Gold Cup and all 50 blends roasted there taste exactly like they’re supposed to.

“(If) I go buy a bag of Velvet Moon and I come back two weeks later, or if I go to Omaha to buy a bag, I don’t want it to be different,” Dinkins said.

Dinkins is a licensed Q Grader, a certification that required a week-long test. He’s one of 230 registered with that certification living in the United States. It’s fair to say Dinkins also has a magic tongue. To test the coffees, Dinkins uses a spoon, sucks in the coffee and spits it out.

“You want to suck it in with as much air and coffee at the same time so you can coat your entire pallet,” he said.

His pallet is so sensitive Dinkins uses a special silver-plated spoon.

“I don’t like stainless (steel) because I can taste the stainless,” Dinkins said.

Don’t even get him started about the taste of city tap water. Dinkins only uses filtered water for his brews.

Dinkins says one bean can ruin a cup of coffee. Some of the rotten tastes he’s experienced include dirty grass, dirty straw, or even rubber tires.

This coffee connoisseur truly loves his java. Dinkins doesn’t just drink it at work; when he wakes up each morning, Dinkins says he’ll brew a pot of coffee. He’ll even drink it all weekend.

With as much caffeine as Dinkins absorbs, one may think he would be jittery or bouncing off the walls but Dinkins is rather calm and collected. This is likely the result of years of building up a caffeine tolerance.

When it comes down to it, Dinkins loves what he does, and feels lucky to be able to use his special skills for a living.

“It’s a great job. Where else can you go to work, and get paid to taste coffee (and) drink coffee,” Dinkins said. “I’ve found my niche.”

 

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