Coffee Cupping

Mastering the Art of Coffee Cupping: A Comprehensive Guide to Home Coffee Cupping Techniques.
September 29, 2023 by
Gladys Kyule
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As the coffee world brings new offerings with distinct flavor profiles and aromatic teases, one cannot help but wonder who sets the grade standards. How do professionals determine coffee's body, acidity, aroma, and flavor profile worldwide? Alternatively, how do professionals inform decisions on blends, roasting, brewing, and pairings to actualize the wildest of our dreams? 

Coffee has endless flavor notes, and one can practice observing the flavors through a tasting procedure named coffee cupping. Here's a 5 minute read to quench your curiosity and master the fascinating skill of coffee cupping for exceptional homemade brews.

What is coffee cupping?

Professional tasters use coffee cupping as a sensory technique to categorize coffee varieties according to their flavor profiles, among other qualities such as aroma, body complexity, and sweetness. It involves specific steps, including grinding the coffee to a certain coarseness, steeping it in hot water, and systematically tasting and scoring it.

Coffee cupping is the standardized process coffee professionals use to evaluate multiple coffees side by side. 

The cupping technique is, therefore, a vital technique used by coffee brewers across the globe to categorize coffee varieties and keep specialty offerings unique and homemade brews divine!

Professional tasters slurp coffee using the cupping spoon to aerate it before tasting for coffee cupping.Coffee tasters slurp coffee with a cupping spoon for precise coffee cupping.

Is there Difference between coffee cupping and coffee tasting?

Coffee cupping and coffee tasting are both methods used to evaluate and appreciate the flavors and characteristics of coffee. Still, they have some key differences: Professionals use coffee cupping as a structured and formalized method to grade coffee beans for objective evaluation. In contrast, coffee tasting is a more general term encompassing any informal or casual sampling of coffee for personal enjoyment or exploring coffee flavors.

Both practices involve assessing coffee's taste and aroma but serve different purposes and follow other procedures.

You might also like Tips For Brewing a cup of Specialty Coffee

Why You Should Do Coffee Cupping

Why invest time learning about a coffee sampling technique primarily designed for specialists? I will tell you why. Coffee sampling allows brewers to identify or sample multiple coffee flavors and roasting methods, enabling you to brew multiple cups in a single buy! So, coffee sampling looks after your wallet and allows you to get better and more accurate results with every brew!

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How to do Coffee Cupping 

You now know what coffee cupping is. You must wonder how to cup coffee. In a typical coffee cupping process, specialists pour hot water into fresh coffee grounds and allow a 3 to 5-minute steeping period. 

The coffee cupping ratio is 8.25g (whole coffee) grounds to 150ml (water). A 200ml cup should take about 11 grams of coffee grounds. 

After the steeping period is over, the coffee grounds are removed from the surface of the beverage, and the resulting liquid is sampled and assessed to evaluate coffee beans based on flavor, body, aroma, and acidity. So, the whole process determines coffee bean quality, variety, and suitability for which blend.

A person pours hot water into fresh coffee grounds, giving it time for a steeping period.Professional coffee taster pours hot water into coffee grounds, steeping for optimal flavor for cupping.

A Guide for Home Coffee Cupping

Professional coffee cuppers use various tools such as scales, spoons, and thermometers to assess a bean's characteristics accurately. For those willing to try this extraordinary skill at home, the following essentials are tools you must assemble for your coffee cupping session.

The Essentials: What You Need

  • Coffee Beans: Solai Coffee has you covered! Order freshly roasted and high-quality single-origin coffee beans to unleash the character of distinct flavors from specific coffee-growing regions. 
  • A burr coffee grinder: While any coffee grinder may work, a burr grinder promises uniform results—target medium to coarse grind for better extraction.
  • Digital Scale: It is essential to minimize errors in the coffee cupping ratio. An investment in a digital scale will give consistent or accurate coffee-to-water ratios.  
  • Hot Water (200°F): Heat clean filtered water to a range of 93-95°C. After heating, allow the water to cool for about two minutes before beginning the coffee cupping process.
  • Cupping Bowls: We recommend using small glass or white ceramic cupping bowls with wide rims. Each coffee variety you assemble for tasting will need a single cup.
  • Spoon: Cupping spoons are made of wide but shallow bowls to enable slurping coffee before tasting.
  • Timer: Track your brewing and tasting times to understand your coffee's distinct notes or character.
  • Notebook and Pen: Note down coffee characters such as aroma, body, mouthfeel, complexity, and sweetness of each variety you taste.

The Cupping Process: Step by Step

Now that you have the required equipment, flexing your coffee-cupping skills is the time. If you do not have any, worry not! The following is a step-by-step guide for cupping your coffee at home.

  • Grinding

Target a medium-coarse consistency grind, similar to sea salt or breadcrumbs. We recommend a cupping ratio of 8.25g coffee per 150 milliliters of water.

  • Smelling the Grounds

Get an initial impression of the coffee's aroma by taking a moment to smell after grinding.

  • Brewing

Put freshly ground coffee in each cup and pour hot water using the cupping ratio above. Allow the coffee to steep for about 4 minutes.

  • Breaking the Crust

A critical aspect of coffee cupping evaluations is breaking the crust. After the coffee steeps, a crust will form at the top. You'll need a cupping spoon, and the purpose of the cupping spoon is to break the crust, taking note of the aroma that embraces your nose from each cup.

  • Tasting

Slurp your coffee using the cupping spoon to aerate it before tasting. As you taste, take note of the flavor, body, acidity, and aftertaste. Use a scale of 1 to 10 to rate each attribute.

  • Scoring and Note-Taking

Record each observation of different coffees in your notebook. Take note of the coffee's fragrance, flavor, body, acidity and aftertaste. Note how each of these attributes compares to other coffees you taste.

  • Repeat for Each Coffee

Take a sip of water or a break to cleanse your palate between tastings for accurate assessments.

Three Benefits of Coffee Cupping

Coffee cupping ultimately improves your brewing skills for the ultimate cup. What's more, coffee cupping helps coffee lovers to be economical with their spending, allowing them to achieve more distinct flavors from each brew. By learning how to grade coffee, we inform decisions on roasting and brewing, which elevates our specialty offerings to new heights.

Read also Coffee Pairing with Food

Coffee cupping is a fascinating and rewarding way to explore the diverse world of coffee flavors. 

Coffee lovers are becoming more conscious of their brews, and cupping is the route towards such fulfillment. It allows you to appreciate the nuances of different coffee beans, discover your preferences, and refine your palate. 

Whether a novice coffee enthusiast or a professional, coffee cupping provides a unique opportunity to deepen your love for this beloved beverage and uncover the hidden treasures within each cup. 

So, get started on your coffee-cupping adventure and unlock the secrets of coffee with Solai coffee kahawa beans. 

Remember, One Sip, That's it! Instant Joy!

Gladys Kyule September 29, 2023
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