What is coffee cupping?
Coffee cupping is a tasting technique. This is how coffee is tasted by producers and buyers around the world to check the quality of a batch of coffee. In cupping, coffees are scored for aspects such as cleanness, sweetness, acidity, mouthfeel and aftertaste.
According to the cupping protocol, hot water is poured onto freshly roasted and ground beans directly into the cup and allowed to steep for 3–5 minutes. The infusion is then mixed and the foamy head removed. The coffee will need to cool before tasting in order to avoid burning your tongue and to allow the flavours to emerge. Two spoons are used, one going in the cup and the other in the mouth.
The coffee taster attempts to measure aspects of the coffee's taste, specifically the body (the texture or mouthfeel, such as oiliness), sweetness, acidity (a sharp and tangy feeling, like when biting into an orange), flavour (the characters in the cup), and aftertaste. Since coffee beans embody telltale flavours from the region where they were grown, cuppers may attempt to identify the coffee's origin.
In addition to being a quality control method, cupping is an excellent way to increase your knowledge about coffee. Tasting helps you learn how to identify differences between cultivars and countries of origin.