In the coffee world, tasting is referred to as cupping — the age-old art of uncovering a bean’s unique tones and tendencies in a controlled manner. Cupping can be done anywhere, anytime; all you need is beans, water, a grinder, and a brewer. Follow these steps for your own, personal cupping.
- Measure out your whole beans in direct proportion to the water level being used
- Grind your beans to as coarse a grind as possible
- Place pre-measured grounds (we suggest 2 tablespoons of freshly ground coffee to 6 oz. of water) into the cup, gently shake the grounds and smell them to get a sense of the main aroma notes
- Add just off-boil water to the grounds; once saturated, grounds will form a crust at the top of the cup. At this point, cuppers should smell the crust and aroma once more and document aromatic changes that occurred as a result of saturation
- Let the grounds steep for four minutes before delicately breaking the crust with the back of your spoon. This breaking is a critical point in the cupping — once broken, the brew should release a powerful, full aroma much more robust than what you previously experienced
- Skim the top of the cup to remove excess grounds and … let the cupping begin!
- Using a deep, wide spoon, scoop up some coffee and start slurping (also known as aspirating), being sure to allow the coffee to spread fully over the palate
- Write down what you smell and taste. Remember to taste the coffee once when warm and again when it’s cooled as the dominant flavor notes will change with temperature
Tastes you should look for are the a) undertones, the notes that first hit your mouth when cupping and remain as a base that the b) overtones layer on top of. Finally, you’ll note the c) close. The close will the final note you taste and should not leave an aftertaste. Often, undertones have either earthy tones or chocolate-based tones while overtones are often citrus or berry-hued. Our coffee sampler is a great way to kick off your cupping adventures!
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