Cupping is the universal process used for tasting and testing coffee. This same process will be used on the farms, wet mills, processing and grading centres, exporters, importers, roasters and sometimes even cafes. The idea is that the coffee is brewed without a filter (which you will find in some shape or form for every other brew method) – so there is no place to hide, and every aspect of the flavour profile can be identified.
Coarsely ground coffee is brewed at a ratio of 15g water to every gram of coffee. After a 4 minute brew time, the grounds that have collected on the surface need to be broken and removed. This breaking of the crust releases a lot of aroma that needs to be noted at this stage. Not until the coffee has cooled substantially is it then tasted.
Next is the part that takes some practice. A cupping spoon (similar to a soup spoon) is used to take a sample from the surface of the bowl, so as not to disturb the grounds settled at the bottom. The sample then needs to slurped, and sprayed over as much of your palette as possible.
Similarly to wine tasting the coffee needs to be aerated, and swilled around your mouth. All this is so you can get the best impression of the taste.
Each time we receive samples of new coffees, we test-roast, then cup each sample numerous times before we decide to buy it. This coffee might go on to become an espresso, a filter coffee or the component of a blend, but will be cupped in this way first. Even once the coffee is officially on our stocks, we will continue to cup it on a regular basis as part of our quality control. It is where we as roasters like to spend as much time as possible.
To test ride some of latest cupping table winners head to our webshop
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