If you find yourself wandering into any coffee roastery worldwide you will be greeted with the intoxicating aroma of fresh coffee and the sounds of endless slurping. This slurping is one of the most important aspect of producing great quality coffee. It is the technique we use to evaluate coffee and it is called cupping. Cupping used by producers, buyers and roasters around the world check the quality of coffee and assess aspects such as cleanness, sweetness, acidity, mouthfeel and aftertaste.
Cupping involves using a spoon to sample a coffee brewed in a cup in a standardised way, taking a good slurp and then if needed spitting it out.
Some of the flavour notes of coffee include fruity (such as blackberry, raisin or peach), spices (pepper, cinnamon), sweet (maple syrup, vanilla), floral (jasmine, rose), cereal (malt, grain). Cupping accurately is a skill that can take a long time to learn (and some people are better at discriminating different tastes than others). But learning the basics of how to cup coffee will enrich your coffee drinking experiences and help you appreciate your coffee more.
What do you need for cupping?
Glasses or cups
Cupping spoons, similar to soup spoons
Coarsely grind 11g of coffee.
Smell the ground coffee to experience the dry fragrance.
Add 200g of just off the boil water and steep for 4 minutes.
Smell the wet aroma
After 4 minutes briskly stir the crust of the coffee so that it settles and stops brewing. Use a pair of spoons to remove any crust that remains floating on top.
Taste the coffee using a spoon as it cools.
Describe the fragrance, aroma, acidity, flavour and finish (aftertaste) of each coffee.
The flavours of the coffees change as they cool because our ability to taste depends on the temperature. So we often do a few rounds of tasting the coffees on the table.
At Stash Coffee we cup every batch of coffee that we roast, to ensure that each roast meets our stringent quality control. We also cup because we keep learning and challenging ourselves to improve.