Everything you need to know about cupping

Why are there cuppings?

Before I get into the preparation of the cupping and the tasting itself, I will briefly mention the differences between home and professional cupping. These are primarily in the quality of the coffee samples. The professionals of the coffee world are here to make sure you have the best coffee.

So your tasting will not be spoiled by poor quality beans and flavours. Unless you deliberately include the latest bottom shelf coffee from the supermarket in your cupping, as a "surprise" for fellow tasters. For example, I will add a sample of pure robusta at a public cupping. However, the taster tries this cup just out of curiosity.

Some coffees go through up to a hundred professional cuppings! This tests the quality of the coffee at every stage of production. You can use the coffees tested in this way - our selections- to make a cupping that is a real pleasure. You have fun with your friends and those who are the best at tasting (yes, these are mainly professional baristas) then enter national or world coffee tasting competitions.

What is the goal of coffee tasting?

In the professional coffee world, cupping hasstandardized rules. So that the results are relevant and cupping can be done everywhere in the world.

So the cupping technology must be feasible even on a farm among the rainforest. Therefore, the cupping procedure isabsolutely simple. Especially in the Czech society it does not need much explanation. It's very similar to the Czech pour-over coffee aka "turko".

Professional cupping is evaluated so that the results are measurable. So in numbers or cupping scores. The qualities and qualities of the coffee examined will earn the taster a grade according to SCA standards.

This numerical rating is entered on the also standardized cupping form. After the total points are totaled, the quality of the coffee is determined.

Why is the cupping score so important? The threshold of80 points forms the dividing line between commodity and choice coffee. Well, the higher (80 - 100 points) cupping score you seeon the coffee label, you can assume that the coffee will absolutely wow you!

With home cupping of our selected coffees, then, tasting is all about discerning the flavor nuances and differences between coffees, better understanding the coffee itself and also practicing your palate sensitivity.

Principles of coffee cupping

Although cupping will be a joy rather than a chore for you coffee lovers, I have some recommendations for you to follow. First of all, to enjoy the tasting undisturbed.

So check this checklist for cupping preparation:

✅ Freshly roasted coffee

✅ Clean, filtered water heated to 95°C (92°-96°F)

✅ Grinder with grinding stones

✅ Cups (preferably of the same size)

✅ Spoons (at least two per person)

✅ Scale

✅ Timer

✅ Something to write notes on

✅ Focus and a good coffee mood

✅ A clean, well-lit environment free of other smells, noise and distractions

Also, try not to disturb the coffee tasting process itself with these influences:

  • perfume, aftershave, cigarette smoke, etc.
  • Do not taste coffee immediately after eating, drinking or brushing your teeth/chewing gum
  • do not talk, lest you influence other tasters with your observations
  • try cupping in the morning, about 2-3 hours after waking up in the morning the senses are at their sharpest

Coffee cupping preparation procedure:

  1. Start by dividing the freshly ground coffee, in bowls or cups in aratio of 8.5 g of coffee to 150 ml of water. The grind is of medium coarseness resembling fine sand in texture. I use the same settings as when making a 500ml filter from a Hario V60.
  2. Smell and explore the aroma of different types of ground coffee beans and their differences.
  3. Pour filtered hotwater at 95℃ over the samples (if you don't have a thermometer, let the water reach boiling point and then wait half a minute - the water especially must not be completely boiling).
  4. Turn on the stopwatch (kitchen timer or maybe on your mobile phone).
  5. With a deep cupping spoon, if you don't have one for soup, after 3 minutes, carefully spread the crust on the surface and smell again.
  6. Gather the foam away from the surface.
  7. After 8minutes, the coffee has cooled enough to taste. Using a spoon, scoop up the coffee and place it in your mouth to cover as much of your tongue as possible, coating all of your taste buds. Don't be shy about taking a loud sip! This is just the thing to get the coffee all over your mouth so you can better perceive its flavor notes.
  8. Write down your findings for overall evaluation and scoring.
  9. You can swallow the sample or spit it out. I'm guessing you'll stick with the former. However, with multiple cuppings at our roastery, that much caffeine in a day wouldn't do us any good.

And what to examine when cupping in coffee?

Start with the simplest. Which coffee do you like better? Which coffee smells the best to you? Record your results on paper with a number, a grade like at school, or maybe with emoticons ????????????. As you prefer.

As you continue tasting, try to get more and more specific about what you smell in the coffee. Do you like the coffee because you sense a noticeable sweetness? Is it the smell of flowers that you find so pleasing in this sample of coffee?

With the next sip, focus on this found sensation in even more detail. Is the sweetness more like fruit? Or sugar to caramel? Well, you go on like this for all coffees. You write down ratings and personal notes, e.g. "tastes sweet, like my mum's apricot pie".

AROMA and TASTE

  • includes all the impressions you get from the moment you put the coffee in your mouth.
  • it's everything you feel through your nose, on your tongue and on your palate
  • they are pleasant but also unpleasant taste sensations (for example, a sample of coffee given as a 'surprise' or coffee from the bedside)
  • coffee flavour circle will help you on your way to discerning a particular flavour (tip: work your way from the centre of the circle to the edge)

Bitterness, sweetness and acidity

  • Acidity is usually described as "lively or sparkly" if you perceive it positively and "bitter, sour" if you think it is bad. Acidity is behind the "lively" flavor of coffee, supporting other flavor qualities such as sweetness and fruity flavors. However, too intense acidity tends to be perceived negatively.
  • Sweetness should be in every good quality coffee. Sometimes higher, sometimes only moderate. Sometimes more caramel, sometimes honey, molasses or chocolate,...
  • bitterness should also be represented in the range of flavours. You may notice more bitterness in very light coffees and more in very dark coffees. The lighter ones may remind you of a sort of grassy green taste. Dark roasted coffees, on the other hand, bring unpleasantly smoky, angular notes.

TASTE OF COFFEE

  • assesses how long apositive taste sensationremains in your mouth after swallowing or spitting .

BODY OF COFFEE

  • can be characterised as the 'weight' that the coffee exerts on you overall. This sensation is best described if you do not move the coffee around in your mouth, but let it 'stand' and rub your tongue against the upper palate. With a good coffee, the body is likely to be thick and consistent; with a bad coffee, on the other hand, it will be bland, as if diluted.
  • To visualize this abstract term, imagine what milk tastes like vs the taste of plain water. Yes, exactly the mouthfeel. Milk has a much fuller body than water in this regard.

EXCITEMENT

  • Evaluates how flavor, aftertaste, acidity, bitterness, sweetness, and body complement each other. It looks to see if one component dominates the others. Whether they are pleasantly harmonious and simply in balance.

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