When coffee beans are ground and brewed, the odor is released immediately from the beans. “Dry aroma” describes the scent of freshly ground coffee. Physical aspects of coffee experienced in the tongue, including body and mouthfeel, are also evaluated by coffee tasters.
You may think that since so many people drink coffee every day, there wouldn’t be much to the art of coffee tasting, but there’s really a lot more to it than merely judging if a new cup tastes good.
In this article on coffee tasting, also known as cupping, you will learn all you need to know about this fascinating practice.
Cupping is another term for coffee tasting since porcelain cups are traditionally used for the task because of their ability to maintain the temperature of a freshly brewed pot of coffee.
Glass cups are also commonly used these days so that tasters may evaluate the coffee’s appearance with its flavor.
Even if you’re unfamiliar with the term “cupping” and the idea of coffee-tasting altogether, you can get a sense of the results of the tasting by reading the packaging of your store-bought beans, which will describe the coffee’s flavor notes, which can range from bright and fruity to deep and indulgent, like caramel or cocoa.
These flavor profiles are often based on palates that are built over time, so while you might not be able to detect the subtle nuances at first, you could be surprised by what your taste buds pick up on with some deliberate practice.
Coffee Tasting vs. Coffee Cupping
Even though we encourage everyone to give the coffee a try and see how it stacks up against others when we use the term “cupping,” we’re usually referring to a method developed and utilized in the coffee sector.
Professional cupping adheres to a specific methodology in which the fragrance, flavor, acidity, mouthfeel, and finish of the coffee are each given their own score and then added together to get the coffee’s overall score.
That’s a standard by which green coffee vendors and purchasers may compare their offers and counteroffers.
It’s also a means for all the people involved in the coffee-making process (growers, shippers, importers, roasters, retailers) to utilize the same standard for measuring the coffee’s quality.
The Cupping Process
- While the coffee is brewing, the beans are laid out on trays so that tasters may examine their aroma and quality up close.
- To brew coffee without using a coffee maker, just pour hot water over a few freshly roasted and ground beans in a cup or dish.
- After 3-5 minutes of steeping, during which time a crust usually forms on the top of the liquid and the temperature drops to an acceptable drinking level, the coffee is analyzed for its fragrances.
- The floating grinds are shaken to break the crust and release the coffee’s extremely concentrated scent, which is then re-evaluated. The brewing process is stopped when the grounds reach the bottom of the cup.
- Following this, the coffee may be slurped to expand the palate and gain a greater feel of its properties, and any grounds or foam that have accumulated on top can be removed with spoons.
Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from brewing a variety of coffees at home and comparing them there, but a trip to the cupping is a fantastic opportunity to observe how experts from all around the world rate coffee.
Learning How to Taste?
Finding a method to express your ideas and opinions might be the biggest obstacle, whether you’re participating in a coffee cupping with a skilled professional or simply comparing coffees at home.
Having a solid understanding of the terminology and fundamental ideas of coffee makes for a more organized taste.
A comprehensive flavor chart is available for your perusal, but we suggest getting familiar with the basics first.
- Sweetness: Since we are all familiar with what sweetness tastes like, this is frequently the first concept we suggest considering. How much, if any, sugary sweetness do you pick up? What sort of sweetness do you remember when you taste this? Is it anything like brown sugar, or is it more like honey?
- Body: Some coffees will feel more or less thick on your tongue. As an additional factor, the texture of a beverage might affect how much you like sipping it. Full-fat vs. low-fat or nondairy milk might serve as a useful frame of comparison. Or how a light lager varies from the weight of a dark brew.
- Acidity: Acidity is a unique flavor that is very easy to detect if you know what you’re searching for. The acidity of a coffee could remind you of fruit, such as a tangy lemon or a berry. A high acidity might be regarded as bright, crisp, vivid, or alive. And mild acidity might be regarded as smooth, moderate, or even uninteresting. Keep in mind that acidity may have both good and negative effects and that many of the most highly regarded coffees include a complex acidity, but that even mild acidity can be off-putting to some palates.
- Flavor: Coffee tastes, or notes, may be compared to many cuisines and components. In this regard, there is no such thing as giving an erroneous description of a flavor. The more coffee you try, the more you’ll learn to distinguish between varieties.
- Finish: What occurs after you’ve finished your initial drink or slurp? Some coffees have a stronger flavor and a longer aftertaste than others. The flavor and impact of other coffees will seem to dissipate more rapidly. There might be a lingering flavor, such sweetness or bitterness, in your mouth thereafter.
Coffee Tasting at Home – The Basics
You may attempt to replicate the procedures used in official cupping events as closely as possible, or you can conduct a more casual tasting in which you line up a variety of coffees to taste using whichever brew technique you want.
As long as you’re paying attention to what’s going on and can get the coffee to taste about the same every time, there’s no incorrect way to brew it (so the comparison is fair).
Here are some guidelines to help you create a memorable experience that you can replicate.
Before tasting coffee, smell it. This is significant because roasted beans provide amazing smells when brewed. To do this, place your nose near the cup and inhale deeply, cupping your hand over the coffee if necessary to funnel in the deliciousness.
Sip or Slurp
When tasting, coffee consumption is not as routine as it always was. Take measured sips or slurps to assess the liquid’s taste. If comparing coffee beans, only sip little amount.
Slurping helps coffee reach more of your mouth and nose. Therefore, we advocate doing it even in private.
Consider the flavors you’re tasting (in addition to sweetness, body, acidity, and finish). If you’re new to tasting, don’t worry about the berry and fruit flavors written on the coffee bag. It’s alright if you can’t taste them or if you taste anything else.
Record or Describe
It might be beneficial to keep your thoughts to yourself during the first few moments after tasting a coffee. Some suggest not sharing your opinions until the sessions finish because others’ thoughts might easily affect yours.
When you’re ready, write or share what you tasted. Some individuals like sharing and comparing, and talking with others may help you form your own beliefs.
There is no need for concern even if the amount described here appears excessive to you. Exercise is the best way to improve. Therefore, you should carry on consuming those cups of coffee in order to add flavors to your recollection of your senses.