Everything you need to know about cupping coffee
If you ever walk by a roastery and hear obnoxious loud sounds of people sipping and slurping, we’re probably in the middle of a coffee cupping session.
Coffee cupping is the method used to observe the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee. Coffee cupping is a professional practice and to be known as a professional coffee cupper you need to complete a Q Graders course, which is an intense course to master the mouth to be able to taste and smell multiple types of coffee flavours and aromas.
The cupping process was conceived as a means for evaluating and comparing different coffees on a level playing field. Because the differences between great coffees can be very delicate, observations about the characteristics of those coffees (flavor, body, finish…) can be easily influenced by small variations that occur as part of most brewing methods. By eliminating some of these variables, a carefully prepared cupping allows the coffees being tasted to compete on the basis of their own intrinsic merits.
Some degree of scientific rigor is key to conducting a fair cupping. Measurements of water and coffee grounds should be precise, any grinding equipment should be flushed between cups to prevent cross-contamination, and the pouring of hot water should be done with great consistency. Time is also a factor; once the grounds are wet the steeping process is underway, and the coffee will undergo many changes in chemistry and flavor over the next 20 minutes.
It is very important to evaluate each coffee from the start of this cycle to the finish, so most cuppers have developed a protocol for managing this sequence of events to ensure that every coffee on the table gets equal treatment.
The coffee flavour wheel gives you all the tasting notes on what you would taste from each coffee during your cupping session.
A large handful of coffee roasters now do free public cuppings, which is a great way for people to learn and more involved in the coffee they are drinking. We suggest asking your favourite roaster if they do cuppings or simply follow them on instagram as they usually post it there.
The below video is a how to on cupping, enjoy!