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Coffee Cupping

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Coffee Cupping

What is cupping? Simply put, it is the process coffee roasters and growers use to judge coffees next to each other without bias. For coffee drinkers who loves to try new blends or origins, then the next step to build on your knowledge becomes cupping. Cupping at home is actually a fairly easy process and can be setup with minimal coffee cupping supplies. Like wine tasting, is all about comparing flavours, notes and acidity levels in a range of origins and blends in the one sitting.

In specialty coffee and roasteries, cupping bowls are generally around or long table each with a cupping spoon, ready to be tasted. Digital coffee scales are used to ensure each cup has equal amounts of ground coffee and water for both consistency and accurate brew ratios. Electric variable temperature controlled kettles are also used to control the temperature of water used accurately. There is always a spittoon nearby, just like in a winery, where they can delicately dispose of each mouthful. Various cups of coffee are prepared and labelled, ready to be examined by a group of avid tasters. Coffee tasting notes, also known as coffee cupping notes, are quick guides to the aromas and tastes you will find while brewing and sipping those coffees. As coffees are very complex, their essences include aromas that range from floral to fruity to smoky. The tastes fall on the spectrum from sweet to sour, and from salty to bitter.

The Specialty Coffee Association of America’s SCAA Flavor Wheel is a great reference for referencing flavours. It’s a great visual prompt for identifying flavour and aroma: work from the inside out to get more specific if you can. And there are kits like the Le Nez du Cafe Revelation which can help you discover 6 major aromatic notes of coffee from the 4 most distinctive aroma groups (dry/vegetal, fruity, animal, toasty). The kit includes an illustrated booklet that gives a concise explanation of the sense of smell. It describes the aromatic group of each aroma, its odoriferous features and its presence in the world's coffees, as well as the art of coffee growing, roasting and brewing.

This is one of the best ways to learn more about flavour, aroma, and to share that with other people. Most coffee roasters cup every batch of coffee that they roast to make sure it meets their quality standards. Many people who often fall in love with coffees around the table have a preferred cupping coffee brewing method like full immersion brewing a lot. Often that means the french press is a common sight in a cupping room.