A Coffee Cupping is the coffee industry’s way of sampling new coffees, dialing in roast profiles and maintaining consistency.
Roasted samples of coffee are brewed and tasted side by side in a way that highlights all the goodness and any defects of the coffee. It’s a very detailed system with precise equipment and processes. It’s also a full-time career for some people. Luckies.
At Smalltown we cup coffee for all three of the above reasons. The bulk of our cupping is quality control. We want to make sure we are consistently sending out coffee that meets our standards and taste profiles. We also cup to dial in the profile (profile = how it’s roasted, similar to a recipe for cooking). We’re always working on our roast profiles to pull out the best flavor.
Lastly, we cup to test new coffee, and just because it’s fun! We order green coffee samples and roast it in ultra small batches. We then cup it, searching for all the delicious goodness that’s in the coffee. It also helps us detect the deflects which helps us weed out coffee that does not meet our standards.
If you’re a coffee nerd (or aspire to be) we offer occasional cupping classes. If you would like to schedule one, send us an email. We would love to teach you. It is a fun and eye opening experience.
Click HERE to read the rest of our article and learn more about the Coffee Cupping Process.
Check out the Specialty Coffee Association’s tasting wheel to see what dynamic flavors you might discover in a coffee cupping. There are many rules and standards when it comes to official coffee cuppings. If you are interested in learning what a basic cupping looks like, keep reading!
Basic steps for cupping coffee:
Equipment: freshly roasted coffee, cupping cups, cupping spoons, hot water glass for holding spoons, scale, water kettle, grinder, timer, coffee flavor wheel, cupping form (or a note book), and pencil.
- heat water to 200 degrees and prepare hot water glass with spoons – this glass is used to cleanse the spoon between each coffee
- weight out and grind coffee into cupping cup (the ratio is 1.63 grams of coffee per 1 fluid ounce of water)
- make notes and score each coffee on the cupping form or note book for steps 4-10
- begin by smelling the dry grounds (fragrance)
- start timer and add hot water up to the top of the cup
- let sit for 3-5mins before “breaking the crust” (grounds accumulated at the top) and smell the wet coffee (aroma)
- skim off top layer of grounds and water from each cup
- between 8-10mins slurp coffee to evaluate flavor and aftertaste (the coffee has cooled to a temperature where these are most notable)
- slurp again to evaluate for acidity, body, and balance (as these become more notable as the coffee cools even more)
- as the coffee cools to room temperature slurp again to evaluate for sweetness, uniformity, and cleanliness of the coffee
- each sample and round of smelling/slurping should have notes of what is present in the coffee and scored from 6-10