Coffee cupping is a practice used by professionals in the coffee industry to evaluate and assess the aroma, taste, and overall quality of coffee beans. It involves a systematic process of smelling, tasting, and observing the characteristics of different coffee samples. Here's a general overview of the coffee cupping process:

  • Selection of Coffee Beans: Choose a variety of coffee beans to cup. These beans can be from different regions, roasts, or even different batches for comparison purposes.
  • Grind the Beans: Grind the coffee beans just before the cupping session begins. The grind size should be relatively coarse to allow for proper extraction during brewing.
  • Smell the Dry Fragrance: Take a moment to inhale the aroma of the dry coffee grounds. Note any distinct aromas or characteristics that you perceive.
  • Add Hot Water: Pour hot water (around 200°F or 93°C) over the coffee grounds in a cupping bowl. Allow the coffee to steep for a few minutes.
  • Break the Crust: After steeping, use a spoon to break the crust that forms on the surface of the coffee. This step releases additional aromas and allows for evaluation of the fragrance.
  • Smell the Wet Aroma: Gently sniff the aroma rising from the cupping bowl. Take note of any new or intensified aromas that emerge after the crust is broken.
  • Slurp and Taste: Using a spoon, take a small amount of coffee from the bowl and slurp it loudly while aspirating the liquid onto your taste buds. This technique helps to spread the coffee evenly across your palate for better flavor perception. Pay attention to the taste, acidity, body, sweetness, and any specific flavor notes you can identify.
  • Evaluate and Score: Assess the overall quality of the coffee based on its flavor, balance, complexity, and other desirable characteristics. Use a cupping scoresheet or a rating system to document your observations and give each coffee a score.
  • Compare and Discuss: If cupping with others, compare and discuss your findings. Share your perceptions, compare notes, and consider different perspectives to deepen your understanding of the coffee samples.

Cupping is a valuable tool for professionals to assess coffee quality and make informed decisions regarding sourcing, roasting, and blending. It helps to identify flavor profiles, detect defects, and evaluate the potential of different coffees.