Coffee Cupping: 3 Steps To Elevate The Experience Of Every Sip
You’ve got your wine swirl down and you know how to nose a spirit. You can spot the “legs” on some fine whiskey from a mile away. But, have you ever tried the same tasting experience with another favorite adult beverage? (Ahem, it’s coffee.)
Cupping coffee, or coffee tasting, has been around for a long time – mostly as a professional practice used by many bean brewers and sellers alike to test the quality of coffee – and can be done and enjoyed by anyone.
The act of cupping coffee involves the same activities as the aforementioned alcohol counterparts, in that you smell, slurp, taste and spit the different flavors of coffee. This coffee tasting process helps you get the full flavor effect.
Cupping coffee protocols on Speciality Coffee Association Of America (SCAA) are highly detailed and perhaps a tad too complex for the everyday coffee drinker. So, to simplify, here are the three most important steps you need to have a coffee cupping experience:
Step #1: Purchase A Variety Of Coffee Flavors And Prepare
Buy a wide variety of coffee flavors, ranging from dark to light. Be sure to buy beans from different countries as well. To set up your coffee cupping station, place two tablespoons of freshly roasted and ground coffee in a 6 0z cup. (Note: the grind should be between medium and fine.) While boiling filtered water, line the coffee samples up next to each other with a blank sheet of paper for taking notes.
Step #2: Analyze The Fragrance And Aroma Of The Coffee
Smell the coffee grounds and write down what you notice about its fragrance. Then, add hot water that’s just off the boil to each cup. Smell each cup without moving it around and write down the aromas you are experiencing. After a minute or two, a crust of grinds will form on the top of each cup, break through it with a spoon and put your nose over the cup – this will give you the deepest aroma of the coffee. Add more notes.
Step #3: Analyze The Flavor Of The Coffee*
After the coffee has cooled down, take some coffee into a spoon and slurp the coffee to aspirate it over your entire tongue. Strong aspiration also distributes coffee into the throat and nasal passage (when the nasal passage is opened… pow, you get a full spectrum of flavors!). Again, after each taste, write down your observations of the coffee taste, acidity, aftertaste and body. When a cup cools down, new flavors may be detected, so do two rounds of tasting.
*Please heed: If you’re tasting a lot of different coffees, spit out after evaluation. Just like wine or whiskey, it is possible to have too much caffeine.
Cupping coffee is a great (and scientific!) way to understand the aromas and flavor profiles of the coffees you provide.
For retailers, cupping coffee helps you relay to customers information on each brew, which helps you sell more coffee. If you’re selecting brews for an office kitchen, make coffee tasting fun and turn it into an event for your employees to join in on. Your workers will appreciate being involved in selecting something they enjoy.
Either way, cupping coffee helps you offer only high quality coffee – a key to employee happiness and repeat visits from all your favorite caffeine consumers.
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