Coffee Cupping – The Beginners Guide to Choosing the Right Coffee Bean
By Andreanne Hamel
Coffee cupping refers to the methods used to compare the different types of coffee. Much like wine tasting, a cupper tastes coffee from different types of beans, or coffee beans grown in different areas. Their purpose is to evaluate the finer characteristics of each blend.
With every species of coffee bean and even the soil it is grown in, come different flavors, characteristics, and aromas. Learning to appreciate and evaluate these differences is what cupping is all about.
Getting Started with Cupping
The art of cupping really isn’t difficult. There are of course those who take the art seriously, and spend hours preparing for that social cupping event. For most of us though, it’s as simple as getting a few types of coffee, a few cups, and putting together a cupping party!
When it comes to the coffee, the best way to get cupping is with freshly roasted beans. If you have a coffee roaster gather together a few types of raw beans. If not, try to get the freshest coffee that you can find.
Here is a list of the ideal tools you will need to get the job done right.
· 8oz Porcelain Cups – One for each type of coffee that you will taste.
· Silver Spoon – Hereafter referred to as the cupping spoon
· A Burr Grinder
Once you have all of the desired tools together, start your kettle boiling. While you’re waiting for the water to boil, grind up some of each type of coffee bean. Place 2 heaping tablespoons of each type of ground coffee into separate cups. Finally add about a ? cup (the coffee to water ratio is a matter of personal taste) of 200°F water to each cup, and let the coffee steep for 3-4 minutes.
What You’re Looking For – Get Cupping
After allowing the grounds to sit in the water, a crust of grounds will have formed on the surface. Now it’s time to start the cupping (tasting) process.
While leaning into the cup, so that you will be able to smell the aroma, break the crust with your cupping spoon. Pay attention to the aroma that wafts up as the crust is broken. Next, take your tablespoon, and use it to taste the coffee. You should suck the coffee off of the spoon. This will ensure the flavor gets dispersed within your mouth, and then you will be able to evaluate the coffee for:
1. Acidity – Most of the flavor in a coffee comes from the acidity. This is usually described as the brightness, or sharpness of the bean.
2. Body – The body is the way it actually feels in your mouth. Is it heavy or light? Does it feel thicker than the other coffee you just tasted?
3. Sweetness – Sweetness is a desirable characteristic. Even the most acidic coffee can be considered great with the right amount of sweet added to the mix.
4. Finish – The finish of the coffee can be described as the after taste. Is there a bitter taste after that first burst of flavor?
Once you are finished tasting the first cup, rinse your mouth and repeat the process. With each coffee record your results on a piece of paper. This is the key to finding the best beans for your tastes.
When you have found the bean that is ideal for you, you’ll likely want an espresso machine to extract the flavor from those beans. Simply find the best home espresso machine, semi automatic espresso coffee machine, or even check out the finer points of a professional espresso machine. The pressure used in brewing espresso extracts more of that wonderful flavor and aroma, and leave behind more of the caffeine.
However you look at it, when you get good at cupping, it is very likely that you’ll become the local coffee expert and you’ll be able to choose/recommend the best beans for any occasion!
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