Swishing it, a rich scent arises. The flavour is gentle and light, floral with a strong lemon finish.
Tasting the next cup is a completely different experience; the brash complexities of the fruity notes ring out like a brass band.
This is not your typical cup of coffee. A Burnaby-based coffee roaster, 49th Parallel, has brought the world of specialty coffee to the city and beyond.
The company, which began roasting at its headquarters in Burnaby in 2005, sources its coffee beans very carefully - and even trains the baristas in the shops that serve it carefully, as well.
Kyle Straw is 49th Parallel's barista educator. For the past year and a half, he has travelled to the cafés that serve the specialty coffee to ensure the baristas bring out the best flavour possible from the beans.
His main instruction - taste it.
"We're constantly cupping, tasting, trying," he says, speaking over the din of customers and music at Caffe Divano in Burnaby Heights - one of 49th Parallel's clients.
Straw teaches baristas how the grind of the coffee, and the amount of water and coffee used, can affect the flavour.
He also points out the importance of freshness - the company roasts beans to order and delivers them fresh, he says.
"The aroma compounds in coffee are super, super volatile," Straw explains.
Training baristas includes educating and empowering them, he says.
"A lot of it comes down to empowerment and passion," Straw says.
And Straw's passion comes through - particularly when he talks about one of his favourite coffees, a Kenyan coffee from the Kangocho Factory.
"So this Kenya, for example, like most Kenyas it's big, it's bold, it's fruity. It's got lots of sweetness and lots of acidity," he says. "I love Kenyas, they're such large coffees. Everything about them is intense."
Tasting it, freshly made by Straw, I have to agree - the Kenyan coffee is one to mull over, with deep, complex flavours such as blackberry and a little citrus.
In contrast, the Ethiopian coffee from the Sidamo Fero cooperative is much lighter; lemony and cheerful.
The majority of 49th Parallel's coffees are generally single-sourced, rather than a blend, giving each the unique flavour of the beans from a particular farm or region.
The beans are sourced from farms and cooperatives, some organic, some not, some fair-trade certified, and others are sourced through direct trade.
"We've got a green bean buyer who is out in the world six to seven months of the year, visiting farms," Straw says. "It's really important to us that each coffee's unique, each coffee's different, each coffee represents the farm or the region from which we get it."
To ensure that customers taste the flavour of the coffees that are so carefully sourced, 49th Parallel roasts the beans a little differently from other roasters, he says.
"We roast light," Straw explains. "And the reason we roast light is we're trying to represent the inherent qualities of that coffee as best we can. And the darker you go, the more the coffee just tastes like roast, so it tastes like a process."
The company offers both espresso and drip coffee and sells espresso equipment, filtered coffee equipment and more on its website.
The coffee is, of course, also available by the cup at places such as Caffe Divano in Burnaby, and at 49th Parallel's two Vancouver cafes.
For more information, go to www.49thparallelroasters.com.