The technique of cupping coffee is used by coffee enthusiasts all over the world to build a greater appreciation of the coffees they like to consume. Cupping is an important practice for coffee roasters to determine the attributes, aromas and flavour profiles of beans from different origins in order to build a blend of coffee with desired attributes for different applications. As a coffee enthusiast the skill of cupping can be a fantastic way to gain a greater appreciation for the little bean you grind and consume every day.
How's it done?
You will need:
- Water just off the boil
- 6oz mugs
- Desert or soup spoon
- Grinder & fresh coffee beans
Begin by boiling your fresh filtered water, you will need it to be just off the boil when preparing your coffee. Then set out one shallow and wide mug for each coffee that you will be cupping.
Grind your beans to a medium coarse setting, something similar to what you would use for a plunger or French press and distribute 2 tablespoons of coffee into each mug. Follow this up by pouring over the off-the-boil water until the mug is full, at this point you want to leave the brew steep for about 4 minutes - you will find the the coffee grounds will set on top to form a 'crust'.
After the four minutes is up and the crust is formed - you are good to go. The purpose of of cupping is to distribute it across your palette and consume the drink in such a way that you get a hit on your senses of smell and taste, after all these are the two that make the difference when you consume your morning coffee.
To begin the tasting, start by taking your spoon from the edge of the cup drag the spoon into the middle of the cup, this will break the crust. At this point use your sense of smell to draw in a deep sniff to get a sense of the coffees aromas. Before you begin tasting the coffee remove the layer of coffee grounds off the top with your spoon and discard of them. You are now ready to take a sample of the brew, in consuming the drink it is best to slurp up the coffee off your spoon, this distributes the drink across your entire palette.
Why do all of this?
Well, the slurping of the coffee ensures the drink coats your entire palette ensuring that all of your tastebuds get in on the action, and it enables your sense of smell to pick up the aromas of the coffee. The coffee flavour wheel is a vital tool when cupping as it assists in understanding what profiles you may be experiencing. You may like to sample both a single origin and a coffee blend and see if you can pick the different attributes of each.
So why not give it a go today? It doesn't need any specialized equipment and it will give you a greater understanding and appreciation of the coffee you drink everyday.