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coffee cupping at home

enjoy coffee cupping at home

from green coffee buyers, roasters, quality control specialists, baristas, and so many more along the supply chain, coffee is assessed and scored by a universal standardized method known as cupping. 

  • for green coffee buyers, cupping is essential in deciding what coffees will be purchased to be featured to customers
  • for roasters, cupping means dialing in a roast profile to ensure the development of the coffee is just right and adding these tasting notes to the finished product
  • for quality control specialists, this means making sure every coffee that makes it out of the roastery and into coffee shops and online for purchasing is tasting excellent without any potential defects or funky flavours
  • for baristas, this could mean expanding one’s palate, getting familiarized with various origins, or even competing at a national level to garner the title of cup tasters champion

luckily, this method of scoring or tasting coffee doesn’t have to be limited to just coffee professionals. you too can host a coffee cupping with friends with our guide which includes everything you’ll need for a proper cupping session, as well as the instructions on how to control the process.

there is no mystery to cupping, only endless intrigue

geoff watts
Intelligentsia Coffee
coffee bean sketch

basic specs

coffee: 20g of each profile you’re cupping

grind: coarse

water: 150g for each coffee

water temp: 200°f / 93°c

brewing time: 13 to 15mins

cupping sketch

cupping tools

cupping bowls (160ml to 200ml measuring capacity)

cupping spoons and glass to hold your spoons

cups filled with hot water

burr grinder

kettle

digital kitchen scale

timer

coffee cupping

a step-by-step guide to coffee cupping

step 01. grind out 2g of the first coffee to prime your grinder. now grind the remaining 18g of coffee to a coarse consistency (a texture similar to sea salt)

step 02. repeat step 1 for each of your cupping coffees. clean out your grinder before each grind to make sure you’re not mixing your coffees or flavours

step 03. add 9g of each of your coffee samples into designated cupping bowls. pro tip: use two bowls per sample, because you never know if a defect might sneak into a bowl

breaking the crust
cupping shot

step 04. now smell and assess the dry aroma of each coffee

step 05. heat your water to 200°f / 93°c. Start your timer, and pour 150g of water into each bowl

step 06. smell and assess the wet aromatics of the coffees

step 07. at 4 minutes break the surface crust by using the spoon to push the coffee grounds to the back of the bowl. make sure you rinse the spoon after breaking each crust

step 08. using two spoons, remove the remaining coffee grounds and foam from the cups and discard

step 09. allow the coffees to cool and at 13 to 15 minutes begin tasting

step 10. to taste, slurp, and allow the coffee to coat your tongue allowing it to taste the full range of flavors. as the coffees cool, you’ll be able to taste the full range of different flavours

coffee bean sketch

tasting tips

taking notes of the aromas, flavours, and other components of the coffee is a great way to expand your palate, understand the different senses you experience, and immerse yourself at the cupping table.

why not try and document your observations and experiences through these 4 stages:

dry aromatics

wet aromatics

breaking of the crust

tasting

because we each have a unique sensory palate, you may pick up different flavor characteristics of a coffee than the person next to you. we like to use the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) Flavor Wheel to compare and contrast these different experiences as it can provide a framework and reference point to have a fun discussion and debate about your cupping experiences with your coffee friends.

*enjoyed our guide and want to learn more? checkout the cupping protocols recommended by the SCA here