Wines have the connoisseur while coffee has the cuppers. Cupping is generally described as the process wherein cuppers taste freshly brewed coffee in order to evaluate, analyze and grade the coffee beans for quality.
Much like wine tasting, cupping has its own parameters in grading the quality of individual batches of coffee beans. Another objective of cupping coffee is to determine which coffee beans can be used to mix with other coffee variations in order to create new and flavourful blends.
Although coffee cupping or tasting is done by professional taste testers, coffee professionals would even hold coffee-tasting events in their respective shops to give coffee drinkers a first, hands-on experience. Yet coffee drinkers and enthusiasts alike can do their own version at home with these easy steps.
Grinding the coffee beans.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to choosing coffee beans. It will depend upon an individual’s liking or preference. Start off by grinding your coffee into medium-course. Grinding coffee to a fine consistency will cause coffee to taste bitter. Once done, add two tablespoons of it into a cup.
Steep the coffee beans.
Add 6.oz of nearly boiling water to the cup and let the mixture steep for 2-3 minutes. While steeping, do not forget to check the coffee for sour smell. This smell is an indication that the coffee is either old or rancid. If the coffee does not indicate any of the above, a crust should form on top of the coffee. The crust above contributes to the overall distinct smell of the brew.
Breaking the crust.
After four minutes, gently break the crust with your spoon by pushing the grounds back and exposing the water. A fine-celled foam is seen shortly after the crust is broken. Absence of the foam indicates that the coffee is not fresh. Pay extra attention to the smell of the coffee as it determines the overall taste. Continuous breaking of the crust will allow the grounds to sink to the bottom.
Tasting the coffee.
Fill the spoon with brewed coffee only and slurp with a bit of force. This will mix air with the coffee, causing it to disperse evenly inside your mouth. To get an overall taste of the flavor, swirl the brew inside your mouth before spitting it out. Rinse your mouth with water and start the same process with another brew. You can also opt to swallow the brew before tasting another cup.
There is no right or wrong in describing the coffee’s taste as each brew gives a distinct quality for every person. Cupping offers a unique experience for coffee drinkers. It gives one a firsthand experience of how coffee makers around the world are dedicated to making the best coffee just for you.
Join one of our coffee cupping sessions and barista training to get hands-on experience in the world of coffee.