What is cupping?
Coffee cupping is the process to evaluate coffee's taste, the first step in your development as a coffee aficionado. Have you ever seen a wine taster swirling a vintage Cabernet in a glass and sniffing it before taking tiny sips? Cupping is the coffee world's equivalent.
Here's how you do it.
Cupping stimulates the taste buds and envelops the palate, allowing you to experience the full, raw flavor of the coffee bean itself. Classic cupping usually involves small coffee glasses (similar to shot glasses). Many coffee shops and roasters offer cupping classes or shows. Both shops and roasters have specialists who devote a large portion of their time cupping, tasting different producers and regions. Cupping helps specialists determine the best methods for brewing particular coffees, creating variables in water temperature, steeping times, grind sizes, et cetera.
Acquire one cupping glass per participant (preferably 6 oz. glasses).
Grind for two tablespoons of freshly roasted beans per glass.
Do a preliminary aroma test; breathe in deeply with nose above the cup. Log detected flavors and fragrances.
Slowly pour boiling water soaking all the grounds, filling 6 ounces to the brim. Ideal water temperature: 202 degrees F
Wait 3-4 minutes for the steeping process to take place; if everything goes well, the grounds should settle at the top and form a thin crust layer with a deep, bubbling coffee brown color accompanying a light bloom.
Breaking the crust is one of the essential parts of cupping coffee; get up close and make sure to capture all the trapped fragrances while they last. Using a spoon, slowly break the crust of grounds; smell the released aromas carefully, taking note of all unique noticed flavors and fragrances. Log notes while you cup.
Now comes the most important part of coffee cupping: tasting. Slurp spoonfuls of the mixture loudly for the best results (you will often hear this in coffee shops and roasteries). Some enthusiasts spit out the grounds after tasting to avoid over-caffeination. Continue to slurp while breathing gently. The goal is to envelop the palate with the grounds to ensure maximum flavor absorption. Log notes while cuppping; tasting the coffee tends to extract the most flavor.
A note from the roastmaster