Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Coffee Cupping (Abridged) pt 2

Hello again! Welcome Back!

Hopefully, my last post piqued your interest in cupping, and you’re ready to learn more. Last week, I talked a little about why Coffee Professionals cup coffees and why you might want to try it out yourself.
Now, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty a little bit. Over the next few posts, I’m going to break down the procedure of cupping so you know what to expect the next time you find yourself cupping.

A small disclaimer before we begin:

Here I’m going to explain the procedures as we use them at Black River Roasters. While they are standardized, if you cup elsewhere you might encounter people who do things slightly differently. This is okay! As with everything in coffee (and life), you have to do what works best for you or your company.

Now! Here we go!

When you first arrive at one of our cuppings, I will gather everyone around the cupping table. You’ll see several samples of coffee set up like this:

What the heck is all this? Let’s break down what we’re looking at here:

1) Here we have the unroasted green beans of the coffee. It is helpful to evaluate the green beans visually for possible defects.* When you are looking at beans, you want them to be mostly jade or light green in color. Beans should also be relatively uniform in size. Grey, white, or black beans or beans that are too large or too small could indicate defects that will affect the taste once the beans are roasted.

 

 

 

2) Here we have the roasted beans! You can evaluate these beans both by sight and by smell. This is another chance to check the beans for defects. Once the beans are roasted, they should be pretty much the same in color. Beans that are a lot darker or a lot lighter in color will taste different than the rest of the roast when brewed.

 

 

3) Now we have the ground coffee. You see here that there are three samples of one type of coffee. This is on purpose! If one of the defected beans finds its way into one of these samples, it will drastically affect the taste of that sample negatively. If you were only to taste the defected sample you might decide you don’t like that coffee, but the other samples will still taste great!

 

 

4) Here we have our kettle. In the kettle is water that is right off the boil and has cooled to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. We will pour the water in a circular motion to ensure that all the grounds get wet so that we have even extraction. Uneven extraction is another factor that affects the taste of coffee. We will also pour water at a specific ratio. The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) has set out this ratio for cupping: 8.25 grams of coffee per 150ml of water.

 

 

5) Spoons and a rinse cup! This is our rinse cup. Between each tasting sample, you rinse your spoon to avoid cross-contamination between samples. But, wait, why do I use a spoon? Well, reader, you don’t want to pick up the samples and drink them because there will still be grounds in them. The spoon ensures that you get the least amount of grounds when you taste. This also allows for multiple people to taste the same sample. Finally, the spoon helps facilitate the slurp (more on this in the next installment!). The cupping spoon is designed to be flat, but deep to make sure you can slurp!

Overwhelmed yet?

That’s okay! I just threw a lot of information at you, so we’ll take a break for now. But the good news is, you now know how to set up a cupping at home! You’re basically a pro! Next week I’ll talk about the actual steps of how to cup. So make sure you check back!

Drop a comment below to tell me what you think about cupping so far! Have you ever cupped before? Are you still nervous to try it? Let me know your thoughts!

Again, follow us on Instagram @black_river_roasters to know when you can put your skills to use in the store!

 

Footnotes:

* Keep an eye out for a future post about defects! It’s actually a favorite topic of mine.

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