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Introduction to the Art of Coffee Cupping

If you’ve been following our blog, you’ve just learned some of the terms used by coffee professionals to accurately describe gourmet coffee. Today, we’re going to talk about the work of certain coffee professionals—cuppers. If you’re scratching you’re head in puzzlement now, we wouldn’t be surprised. Coffee cupping is the technique of evaluating and examining the flavors and aromas of coffee, and cuppers are those who practice this technique. It helps the cupper identify the characteristics of a coffee and even create blends. As a regular coffee drinker, you may be able to tell the difference between a light roast and a dark roast, and tell if a coffee is stale or poorly made, but what about those subtleties in flavor that are not so simple to identify and articulate? Even the professionals can have a tough time communicating what they’re tasting, so through a highly regulated process, cupping creates a standard for coffees to be accurately and fairly judged. This can be helpful, as coffees can taste differently from one year to the next based on the coffee crop and growing conditions. Wish that you could try a round of coffee cupping just like the professionals do? You don’t need all the same tools and intricate set up, and you could actually try it on your own right at home! We’ll give you a peak into how professional cuppers practice cupping, and how you can modify this method to try for yourself. How the Pros Cup Tools Used
  • 5-6 cups (of 5-6 oz. each) (each should have lids)

  • Cupping spoons which can hold 4-5 ml of coffee sample

  • Coffee Grinder

  • Kettle (made of tempered glass or ceramic, holds 7-9 fl oz. with a top diameter of 3-3.5 in.)

  • Scale or a measuring scoop (to measure precise volumes of coffee)

  • 4 clean, empty coffee mugs

  • Variety of fresh, whole bean coffee


    Procedure Step 1: Make sure all equipment is clean and free of oils and residue. Step 2: Measure the beans. Each cup should have exactly 12.5 ounces of beans; pros often use digital scales to ensure accuracy, and some like to put an identifying sticker on the bottom of each cup to avoid confusion. Step 3: Using fresh, filtered water, start your kettle so that the boiling is complete close to when the cupping table is set. Step 4: Grind each cup individually, and clean out the grinder between each sample. Take note of the color of the grinds and inhale the aromas. Step 5: Pour water on the grounds to the top of the cup and set the timer for four minutes. After that, break the crust of the coffee with your spoon, while smelling the aromas that are released. Step 6: Scoop the grinds off the surface. Step 7: Once the coffee has reached a comfortable temperature, dip your spoon in and slurp a small helping of coffee. Don’t swallow it; allow the coffee to hit the back of your mouth, and spit it out. This heightens your sense of the flavors. How You Can Cup at Home As we’ve said, you don’t need the experience or the tools to practice cupping on your own. Simply follow this quick guide: Step 1: Prepare a black cup of coffee. Step 2: Hold the coffee just below your lips, and slurp it into your mouth so that your whole tongue and the back of your throat feel the coffee. This way, you’ll be able to notice the understated flavors without becoming overwhelmed. Step 3: Let the coffee roll around in your mouth and get a feel of the consistency and body. You can spit it out to get an idea of the aftertastes or swallow it like you normally would. We hope that you now have a more thorough understanding of the practice of coffee cupping. Give it a try, and you may discover characteristics of your coffee that you may not have ever noticed before. If you’d like some different kinds of gourmet coffee to get started, please visit us today at CoffeeAM, and you won’t be disappointed. If you have any questions, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.
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