Cupping in Coffee Source

Cupping, or a simple technique for tasting and enhancing coffee.

Our suppliers send us coffee samples throughout the year. Thanks to cupping, we are able to choose among them the ones that appeal to us the most because of their complexity and buy them in our roastery. Cupping is also an integral and almost daily part of the control of normal production in the roastery. Almost every roasting cycle goes through the so-called production cupping, where the consistency between individual roasting is monitored.

Cupping = coffee tasting and subsequent determination of its quality and specific characteristics. The final result of cupping is the point evaluation of the tasted coffee, ie the cupping score. In cupping, the intensity of individual attributes of roasted coffee (aroma, sweetness, acidity, body, ...) is assessed.

Cupping has absolutely precise rules and procedures. This is so that the process and conditions are always the same, whether the tasting is carried out anywhere in the world, in a roastery or on a plantation. Thanks to this, growers, roasters and baristas can very easily communicate about coffee in the same language. Standards for cupping shields SCA (Specialty Coffee Association).

What will we need

  • Cupping bowls (minimum 2 to 5 per sample)
  • Coffee
  • Cupping spoons
  • grinder
  • Barista weight
  • Cupping form or note paper (in CS we record the evaluation in the Cropster application)
  • Hot water 95 ° C in sufficient quantity and quality (filtered water in an ideal ppm of 125 - 175) - you can use eg bottled water at home
  • Stopwatch
  • Rinsing glasses
  • Paper napkins for cleaning spoons
Coffee Source - Cupping

Preparation

Usually 5 samples of one coffee are prepared so that the tasting is as accurate as possible and all taste aspects can be revealed. At Coffee Source, production cupping is prepared from at least two cups from a coffee sample. When tasting, it is important that the sample is not transferred from one sample to another. For this reason, we have prepared hot water for rinsing and partial disinfection of the spoon. This is very important at the moment, which is why we have adapted the rules a bit to the covid situation. Each of the tasters has their own cups of coffee and their rinsing glasses.

We use BWT ROC14 osmosis water for cupping. The water from the regular water supply system is freed of all impurities in osmosis and enriched with minerals to the optimal value of 125-175 ppm. The water treated in this way is most suitable for making coffee and, of course, for cupping itself.

  • We define all coffees in the application, or we write them down in the form, so that we can then add a point rating to them and return to this rating at any time.
  • Weigh 8.5 g of coffee into each bowl.
  • The first very important step is to grind the coffee properly. Coffee is ground a little coarser than for the preparation of filtered coffee. The grinder must be cleaned before each new sample. This is done by grinding a small amount of coffee in the grinder, which we will taste, and only then the samples themselves are ground directly into cupping bowls. 
Coffee Source - Cupping

Evaluation

During cupping, the intensity and quality of individual attributes of roasted coffee are evaluated.

  1. First, the dry aroma of freshly ground coffee is evaluated by smelling the cup. Coffee can smell pleasantly of fruits, flowers or also very unpleasant, when its shortcomings - defects - can already manifest themselves in the dry aroma. The aroma must be evaluated within 15 minutes of grinding the coffee. After this time, most of the aroma begins to fade and the intensity would be very low.

  2. In the next step, turn on the stopwatch and pour water (150 ml), which has a temperature of 95 ° C, into the prepared ground coffee samples. We pour the coffee in a circular motion so that all the coffee comes into contact with the water.

  3. Wet aroma / fragnance - after pouring water, the aroma may change and there are other smells that did not show up in the dry aroma.

    Coffee Source - Cupping

  4. After pouring water, it is necessary to wait 4 minutes and then break through a spoonful of coffee crust that has formed on the surface of the cup. When breaking the crust, it is possible (and desirable) to lean as close as possible to the surface of the coffee and smell the cupping spoon to the back so that we can feel the subtlest aromas that are released after breaking the crust. When breaking, the cup is stirred 3 times at the same time. It is good to always keep the same number of mixes.

  5. Cleaning the level of the cup - with the help of two spoons, we will clean the level of the cup from impurities that would bother us when sipping.

    Coffee Source - Cupping

  6. In the 9th minute, we start tasting the coffee - after scooping on the spoon, the coffee must be sipped strongly to create an aerosol and the coffee should reach not only the tongue, but also the nasopharyngeal mucosa. The combination of smell and taste will increase the sensitivity threshold.

    Coffee Source - Cupping

  7. After each tasting, the spoon should be soaked in a prepared glass with clean hot water so that we do not contaminate another sample and tap it on the prepared napkins.

  8. Initially, we focus on the evaluation of taste, aftertaste, body, acidity and balance.

  9. Finally, the sweetness of the coffee, its uniformity and the purity of the cup are evaluated.

  10. During the tasting, it is possible to smell various unpleasant and defective tastes and smells. This coffee is also evaluated, but of course it will get a low cupping score and will not be purchased in our roastery. It is possible to swallow coffee during tasting, or if there are more samples, it is better to spit the contents of the mouth into so-called spittoons, eg cups. The reason is simple, caffeine could affect us when assessing other samples.

WHAT IS EVALUATED

Scent / Aroma - a set of aromas when dry coffee, when pouring water and when breaking the crust on the surface of the cup - here we are interested in the intensity and quality of the aroma, where you can already recognize some of the coffee defects when pouring coffee with water. The aroma ranges from fruity to herbal to nutty aromas. In general, the range of coffee aroma corresponds to the origin of the coffee.

Taste - is the main attribute of coffee, the sum of all flavors and aromas, their quality, combination and especially the intensity. For this reason, it is necessary to sip hard, because the taste will also be detected in the upper floor of the nose.

Aftertaste - persistence - how long the taste sensation lasts after tasting and how good it is. Aftertaste literally means a perception that is perceived after the taste perception has diminished.

Acidity - can express and promote the fruity freshness, clarity and liveliness of coffee. It must not be too much, the coffee would only be sour, which is not good either.

Body - mouthfeel, sample viscosity at taste

Balance - expression of conformity and contrast of all attributes in coffee - taste, aftertaste, acidity, body ...

Sweetness - sufficient sweetness in the coffee, which is part of the overall perception

Clean cup / cleanliness - purity of taste, without off-flavors from the beginning to the end of the tasting

Uniformita - uniformity in taste between individual cups is assessed here, ideally all should have the same taste and intensity

General impression - personal evaluation of the taster, whether the coffee meets the requirements

Defects - if they are contained in coffee, it is necessary to name them and at the same time remove the points in the evaluation for defective cups

Each roastery can have production cupping arranged in a simplified form. It no longer deals with such a detailed evaluation and rather evaluates and assesses the individual batch roasting each other.

CUPPINGOVÉ SCORE

The final evaluation is the evaluator's own own impression of the tasted coffee. On the scale of the point system from 1 to 100 in the evaluated categories, after adding up, it is quickly possible to find out which coffees are below average, average, and which belong to the group of selected coffees. Gourmet coffee must reach 80 points and above. A point scale from 6-10 points is used for evaluation. Coffee that would not reach even 6 points should probably not even get on the cupping table. Each point is divided into quarters. Tasters should be able to calibrate to 1 - 1.5 points of difference for each sample.

Quality scale

6.00 - Good
7.00 - Very Good
8.00 - Excellent
9.00 - Outstanding

    Coffee Source - Cupping

    CONCLUSION

    The coffees we select for our roastery usually have cupping scores from 84 points upwards (especially arabica). Cupping requires a great deal of practice, not in technology, but in realizing how coffees should and should taste, what is characteristic of each region and what is already considered a defect. Thanks to good training, an experienced cupper can recognize and name up to twice as many flavors that are contained in coffee. Cupping will reveal all the flavors and aromas that coffees contain, and during some preparation it may not show up due to its softness, such as espresso. According to our instructions, you can easily prepare cupping from a small amount of coffee at home.