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16 October 2006

Coffee Cupping

So, you like spooning. Have you tried cupping? Cupping is the technical term for the process of tasting coffee. Coffee is tasted to evaluate its good and bad qualities. Like wines, coffees have different tastes and faults depending on the growing regions, like the way the coffee trees are grown (soil type, weather conditions, fertilizers etc.). Read the section of coffee tasting terms before you start. Coffee is judged by acidity, aftertaste, aroma, body, flavor and fragrance. Again, like wine, there are strict guidelines to the process of cupping coffee:

* Recording is probably the most important factor in coffee cupping. Please see the coffee cupping recording sheet to start your own coffee analysis.
* Set the table with 6 to 10 cups in a triangular shape. Above the top of the triangle place a sample of the roasted bean and the green coffee bean for a visual analysis. Expert cuppers generally cover these up until after the coffee has been tasted.
* The sample itself must be exactly the same for all coffees. Ensure you equipment is sterile, use 2 tablespoons of freshly roasted coffee and grind the coffee immediately before the cupping session, preferably with a burr grinder, to a medium grind.
* Put the grinds in each relevant cup.
* Smell the coffee for fragrance. Smell grounds before the water is added.
* Add hot water to a glass of spoons (to keep the spoons the same temperature as the coffee) and add 55g of hot water in each cup. Smell the coffee for aroma. Do not touch the cup. Write down your initial aroma thoughts.
* After a minute or two put your nose over the cup and push the coffee grinds down with the heated spoon. This is called “breaking the crust.” This is the best time to get an accurate aroma sense. Write it down.
* Now the best part! Tasting. When the coffee has reached room temperature slurp the coffee off the spoon and breathe deeply through your nose. Breathing is important to allow the coffee tastes to cover the tongue to reach all of the taste buds (salt, sweet, bitter & sour) and the smell will get into the nasal passage. Also, swoosh it round. Spit the coffee out. Record your flavor, acidity, aftertaste & body observations. Try this coffee again when cooled.
* Then rinse your mouth, spit like you’re in a Western and try the next one.

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