Coffee cupping is an essential tool we use every day to evaluate the coffees here in BrewersClub. In this guide, we are going to demystify this ritual and show you how you too, can cup your coffee at home!
This article is part of our Starter’s Guide to BrewersClub. If you haven’t caught on yet, check out other guides in this series:
- How To Reveal Your Mystery Coffee.
- How to Answer (and Win) The Tasting Challenge.
- How to Geek Out With The Coffee Wiki.
Have you ever found yourself in the following situations?
- You’ve splurged on an expensive coffee, but you start to wonder if it’s really good.
- You can’t seem to detect the flavors printed on the labels.
- You’ve brewed an unsatisfactory coffee, but you can’t seem to figure out what went wrong.
- You’ve recommended a coffee to a friend, but your friend can’t seem to reproduce the same taste.
If you have answered YES to any of the above, coffee cupping may just be the solution you need!
What is Coffee Cupping?
Coffee cupping is a practice of observing the tastes and aromas of coffee using a standardized brewing method.
A large portion of our work here at BrewersClub revolves around curating coffees for our members, and coffee cupping plays a central role in our evaluation.
Whenever we receive a new coffee, we use cupping to check its quality, based on defined parameters such as aroma, flavor, aftertaste, body, and acidity.
Why Should You Learn Coffee Cupping?
Coffee cupping is designed to limit the variables involved in brewing through its standardized method so that you can concentrate on evaluating the quality of the coffee.
As you cup more coffees with the same method, your taste buds will naturally develop the ability to discern good from bad coffee.
At higher levels, you may even be able to pinpoint the exact problem with your brew and tweak your recipes accordingly.
We can’t recommend learning cupping enough, and it is definitely one of the best ways to appreciate coffee flavors, and to share that with other Brewers.
Is Coffee Cupping Difficult/Expensive?
While it is true that professional coffee cupping may require expensive equipment in strict settings as outlined by the SCA Cupping Protocols, cupping at home is actually quite simple and cheap!
For home Brewers, our simplified DIY Cupping Recipe is more than sufficient to kick start your coffee discovery journey.
DIY Cupping Recipe
Don’t have a grinder or a weighing scale? No worries!
We have prepared 4 different versions of our Cupping Recipe so that you can do it yourself with items you can easily find at home!
Select the Recipe that best fits you:
Step 3: Smell
Take a nice deep sniff of each of the coffees and note down any aroma that you can recognize at this point.
Step 4: Infuse at Minute-0
Add hot water (~93℃) into each cup until the 150ml level you have marked in Step 1. Make sure all the grounds are evenly soaked.
Step 5: Break The Crust at Minute-4
Using the back of a spoon, push the ‘crust’ (the floating layer of coffee) to the side and inhale as you do. Note down any new aromas. Rinse your spoon in a glass of water and repeat for the next cup.
Step 6: Scoop The Crust
Scoop out and discard the ‘crust’ while making sure not to disturb the grounds at the bottom of the cup.
Step 7: Taste at Minute-10
It’s time to finally taste your coffee! Here’s our recommended steps of tasting it:
- Flavor – Take a spoonful of coffee, and slurp it fast and hard. Table manners aside, this action helps to bring out the flavor as the coffee sprays and coats your palate. Note any flavors you can recognize.
- Body – Try rolling the mouthful of coffee between your tongue and palate to assess the tactile feeling of the liquid.
- Aftertaste – Next, swallow the coffee and assess how long the pleasant taste remains and whether there is any unpleasant taste. You may opt to spit out your coffee to avoid getting over-caffeinated.
- Acidity – As the coffees cool down, work your way around the cups again as acidity is better appreciated at room temperature. Note how pleasant/unpleasant the acidity is.
- Overall – Finally, compare and form an overall opinion of each coffee.
That’s it! That’s how simple coffee cupping is!
Now give yourself a pat on the back for organizing your very first coffee cupping all by yourself.
Wait a sec… What do you mean you can’t taste anything but the taste of coffee?
We’re kidding. That’s perfectly all right for your first cupping. While the process itself is easy, it takes experience (and a lot of coffee) to become a master taster.
Try our recipe today and make it fun by roping in a friend or two!
Let us know how your first cupping experience was for you in the comments section below.