What is Coffee Cupping?
Cupping is a quantifiable and widely used method of analyzing a coffee sample, for its overall quality and individual characteristics, and specific flavor notes.
“Cupping is one of many ways to taste coffee, but it’s also a very effective way to taste different coffees”.
In a cupping session, there will usually be several samples. They may be coffee from the same origin but from different farms, they may represent different varieties and processing methods, and perhaps they may be from different countries. This variety is useful when you want to buy or sell coffee or want to expand your knowledge and experience.
Cupping is believed to have originated in the late 1800s when merchants would taste different types of coffee to determine which ones they wanted to buy and check for compatibility. In 1999, cupping was used in the Cup of Excellence competition, leading to the creation of the Specialty Coffee Association of America (now Specialty Coffee Association, SCA) guidelines that have been widely adopted by the international specialty community.
Today, the industry uses cupping the same way merchants did in the 19th century: to evaluate coffee properties, make purchasing decisions, and confirm consistency.
But cupping isn’t just a matter of purchasing decisions and quality control: it can also be used to determine ideal roast profiles, brewing methods, and more.
Why do we do coffee cupping?
Coffee cupping is a form of quality control. Roasters and distributors need to know what each coffee tastes like so they can market it effectively. If a batch goes bad, they can take it out of circulation before customers experience it.
On a personal level, cupping allows you to sample coffee from around the world. As long as you have a relatively refined palate, you can detect different aromas, tastes and flavor notes. Then, you can choose the coffee of your choice.
Cupping allows you to identify specific roasts or regions you like. For example, you may prefer dark roasts from Bali more than from Central America. Perhaps you prefer the sweetness of cold brew coffee over the hot variety.
How is coffee cupping done?
Coffee cupping is usually done in the morning,
“It makes sense that after 12 noon, your palate is too hot to properly taste the coffee.”
On top of that, spicy or strongly flavored foods should be avoided for about 4 hours before the cupping session to keep the palate clean and sensitive.
Step 1: Brew the coffee
In the world of professional coffee cupping, even the water used to brew the coffee is carefully considered. BWT is a special water from Germany that contains magnesium that enhances the coffee’s aroma
Because coffee grounds are expensive and delicate, the boiled water is carefully added to the cup in a circular motion and not forced.
Step Two: Remove the crema
After pouring the water into the cup, the grounds are left to steep for about 10 minutes so that the sediments settle to the bottom while the crema floats to the top. Then the crema is removed with two spoons.
Step Three: Smell
The next step is to smell the basic aroma of the coffee.
“It’s the first step to understanding what good coffee is through your nose”
Step Four: Slurp
In this step, you’re observing how the coffee interacts with your nose while it’s in your mouth, and whether it has a clean palate and balanced characteristics.
To him, every cup of coffee is a personal choice.
Comparing helps discover coffee flavors
From where the coffee originates to how the beans are roasted, there are many factors that affect how your favorite coffee drink will taste. Knowing the different factors that affect the flavor of your coffee will help you identify the different coffee beans and roasts that you are likely to enjoy the most. When it comes to finding the exact flavors you’re looking for, the good news is that you don’t have to be a trained coffee taster.
As challenging as it may seem, you can be a cupping master easily. Just remember to be consistent, familiarize yourself with the assessment sheets, and practice training your palate.
Hi! My name is Damian, I live in Chicago since 2015, and I am a photographer, traveler, and coffee drinker.
You can learn more about interesting places in Chicago and around the world how to take good photos of them and find a decent cup of coffee on your way!
Honorable Mention Award from “MIFA” – Moscow International Foto Awards.