When you first start to do cupping, there is just too much information! Forms, rules, protocols and equipment needed. This may put many people off this learning experience.
I tried to make a dummies guide for myself, so here is a info-graphic which should get you in the ballpark. For scoring, see Cupping Score Sheet
To better understand HOW to taste, have a look at this great video by James Hoffman – A Beginners Guide to Coffee Tasting and use this form to make notes accordingly. The video explains everything nicely. Hint: subscribe to James’s YouTube channel. It is worth it!
Is the info-graphic to dumbed down? Below is my first attempt, which ended up being at intermediate level instead. Read it though or refer to the SCA Cupping Protocols and then refer to the info-graphic.
- Ready! – Grab your stuff – minimum requirements
- One or more bowls or cups – 207-266ml Measure this once and make a note and you can skip some steps in future.
- Grinder. If you do not have a grinder, build a relationship and get freshly roasted, coarsely ground coffee from your local coffee shop. It is not the best but better than nothing.
- Spoons. If you do not have cupping spoons, soup spoons are a close second.
- Glasses with water. You need a glass to rinse your spoon (1 per coffee) and a glass per taster to rinse your mouth between coffees.
- Kettle. best is to have a kettle with a thermometer or separate thermometer. Since you ideally need to start with coffee at 93° celsius, you could boil your water and let it cool for around one minute.
- Scale – Without a scale of some sort, you will unfortunately not be able to have any sort of consistent result. Sorry!
- Some timer
- Get set! – Before adding water
- Fill your kettle
- Course grind coffee.
- Add coffee to cups and cover. At 8.25g per 150ml of liquid:
Cup size Grams coffee 200 11 210 11.55 220 12.1 230 12.65 240 13.2 250 13.75 260 14.3 270 14.85
- Boil kettle. Wait a minute after boil or for 93° celsius
- Go! No stopping you now. Remember to take notes.
- Lift the saucers and smell the ground coffee.
- Fill cup to the brim, ensuring all grounds are well saturated.
- Start timer
- Break crust at 4 minutes. Do this by putting your nose close to the top of the cup and break the crust by stirring away from you and sniffing. This is the most intense aroma you will get as gasses are released from the crust. Scoresheet: The dry and wet Aroma.
- Scoop grinds from liquid. You can do this by placing two spoons on top of each other, place it on the furthest end and scoop towards you, expanding the scoop area by slipping the spoons slightly apart to catch all floating grounds.
- Evaluate Flavor, Aftertaste, Acidity, Body, and Balance. Between 8-10 minutes on your timer, SLURP some coffee from spoon and try judge both strength and quality for each of above. You will probably need to taste repeatedly. Rinse spoon before scooping.
- Evaluate Sweetness, Uniformity, and Cleanliness. Judge this after 10 minutes, but finish as coffee reaches room temperature 21° celsius.
- Finish by doing final score and completing tasting notes.