Thursday, January 28, 2010
Cupping is a a term for coffee tasting that is done to determine the natural flavors that are in a coffee. The coffee is roasted to a light roast. This prevents the roast from removing any of the coffee flavors. The coffee is then placed in cups. The first step in analyzing the coffee happens at this point. The dry fragrance is checked by smelling the ground coffee. Good coffees have incredible aromatics. The possible scents cover a wide range including fruit, floral, chocolate, nutty and many others. At this point hot water is added to the grounds. It is then allowed to stand for about 3 minutes. The next step is to break the crust of grounds that forms. Using a spoon the grounds are pushed to the bottom and the wet aroma of the coffee inhaled. Once again there are many aromas that come form the coffee. Next the remaining grounds are removed and the coffee allowede to cool a bit more. Now it is time to taste the coffee. Using a cupping spoon the coffee is slurped in a manner that allows the coffee to spray over the entire pallet. The cupper has to note flavor, acidity, aftertaste, and body (mouthfeel) as well as any defectsthat are noticed. There are usually 3-5 cups for each coffee being cupped. Coffee from each of these cups is tasted and and flavors or defects noted. The coffee is then allowed to cool and it is tasted again. A good coffee maintains good flavors after cooling. At times there is a defect that will not show until the coffee cools. There are also coffees that actually improve as they cool.
I try to cup all of our coffees before they are purchased from the importers. We do this in order to provide the best possible coffees to our customers. I am considering offering cupping sessions for intersted coffee lovers. If anyone reading this in intersted in participating and learning about coffee cupping, let me know. If there is enough interest I'll set it up.