What is coffee cupping?
About coffee tasting, a guide for starters, and a little about the long way to becoming a chief taster.
coffee cupping is a coffee tasting technique for those who want to practice observing endless flavor and aroma notes of coffee. If you want to get started, our article about the coffee cupping technique is the best guide for you. In this post, we will tell you what a chief taster told us about coffee cupping and becoming a chief taster.
What is coffee cupping?
Coffee cupping or coffee tasting is the technique used by producers and coffee lovers worldwide to check the quality of a batch of coffee. They use coffee cupping to score coffees for different aspects including cleanness, aroma, acidity, bitterness, sweetness, saltiness, sourness, mouthfeel (heavy body or light body), and aftertaste (does the coffee make a dry feeling in the mouth?).
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Coffee cupping is taking a spoon of coffee from a cup, pouring it into another spoon, slurping it into the mouth, tasting its aroma and flavor, and then spitting it out.
How to taste coffee notes
Tasters pour hot water onto freshly roasted and ground coffee beans directly into the cup. Then they allow it to steep for three to five minutes. In the next step, they mix the infusion and remove the foamy head.
To avoid burning the tongue and to allow the flavors to emerge, they let the coffee cool before tasting. In coffee cupping, the taster uses two spoons: one goes in the cup and the other goes in the mouth. A chief taster may taste 200-300 cups of coffee each day, so, they have to spit the coffee out.
Not only is cupping a quality control method, but also it is an excellent way to increase one’s knowledge about coffee. The coffee cupping technique is a good way to learn how to identify differences between cultivars and countries of origin.
Want to discover coffee flavors? Compare them!
You may think that you probably won’t be able to taste anything, but you will be surprised when you see how different coffees actually taste when you do flavor comparisons.
At first, start with trying to explore whether the coffee tastes chocolaty or nutty or whether it has notes of berries or fruit (however, there are many other tastes like caramel, smokey, rubber-like, tobacco, woody, and earthy which might be a little complex for a beginner coffee taster). After recognizing that, you can think about the specific kind of berry or fruit the coffee tastes like.
Being different in each harvest, you can find endless flavor notes to coffee. Weather and altitude directly affect the flavor, but the soil and the cultivar are the factors that play the most important roles. After picking the coffee beans, the flavor of them may be affected anywhere in the processing, transport, roasting, grinding, brewing equipment, and even by the water used to brew.
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Now that you know what coffee cupping is and how to start coffee tasting, you may get interested in becoming a chief taster, but do you know how you can become a chief taster?
Can you become a chief taster?
Although everyone can practice tasting, becoming a master taster doesn’t seem to be that easy. Most of the chief tasters have had a keen sense of taste all their life, which sometimes made trouble for them to enjoy the foods everyone in the family liked.
Some of them work as note-takers at quality control for long years, writing down the experienced chief tasters’ comments. Then, they’d take their own spoons and try to find the flavors the experts found in the coffees.