COFFEE CUPPING GUIDE

CUPPING

WHAT IS  
'CUPPING'
COFFEE?

The industry standard for judging and grading a coffee's quality. Cupping is also a great way to learn about the individual characteristics of each coffee, compare different coffees, and develop coffee tasting skills.

 

YOU WILL NEED: 
  • Freshly roasted PILOT coffee 
  • Small 210-250mL vessel per coffee (bowl, glass or mug)
  • Cupping spoons (similar to soup spoon)
  • Digital scale / timer
  • Burr Grinder
  • Hot filtered water
  • Small vessel for rinsing spoons
  • Spittoons (optional)
  • SCA Tasting wheel* (optional)

*Visit the SCA website for more protocols and best practices.

 

SHOP COFFEE
METHOD: 

1. Measure 10g of coffee beans and place in a ceramic bowl. 

2. To avoid contamination of the sample, purge 5g of the same coffee through the grinder.

3. Grind your coffee(s) and weigh again to ensure it is 10g.

GRIND: Finer than Auto Drip. Uniform particle size similar to table salt. No sheared pieces or fines.

Repeat Steps 1-3 for each coffee on the table.

4. Smell the coffee grounds to assess its fragrance or ‘dry aroma’.

5. Start the timer and pour 180g of hot water (200F) over the grounds, being sure to evenly saturate the coffee.

6. Steep each coffee for 4 minutes.

TIP: When cupping multiple coffees make sure to separate each pour evenly to allow for an accurate steep time. After completing all pours add water to an extra empty bowl for rinsing spoons.

7. Without touching the cupping bowls assess the aroma of the brew as it steeps (wet aroma).

 

8. At the end of 4 minutes break the crustthe layer of grounds that form on the surface of the cupping bowl during the steep. With a downward motion break the surface of the crust 3 times, being careful not to disturb grounds on the bottom of the cup. Assess the aroma of each coffee as you break the crust.

It is important to rinse the spoons to avoid cross-contamination. Rinse the spoons after each break, clearing the surface to remove floating grounds, and tasting coffee from the bowl. 

9. Most of the grounds from the crust will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Remove floating grounds by skimming the surface of the brew using 2 spoons simultaneously.

10. Let the coffee sit for 8-10 minutes until cool enough to taste. Take a small sample from the surface of the coffee with an appropriate cupping spoon. Slurp the coffee to aerate the liquid into a mist that spreads over the entire mouth and engages the olfactory glands. Assess the taste of the coffee, paying attention to the balance of acidity, sweetness and bitterness; specific tasting notes; body (weight) and mouthfeel (texture). Continue to cup the coffee as it cools, as different tasting notes and aromas will present at different temperatures.