7 Steps of Coffee Cupping at Home
Practicing coffee cupping is not as difficult as we imagine. Even ordinary coffee fans – like you – can try it at home. The key point of coffee cupping is to evaluate the quality of the coffee, which is usually done by coffee roasters and specialty coffee shops. Nevertheless, it's still a fun thing to learn at home!
You may wonder what the secret is for professional cuppers with excellent tasting abilities. No, it's not about their cupping bowls or expensive cupping spoons - it's more about the frequency of their practice. Like you, these coffee cuppers or tasters might have initially misinterpreted the tastes, but various trials and processes have made them experts – as the old saying goes, "practice makes perfect."
So, ready to try coffee tasting or try cupping at home? The key is to focus and concentrate on your senses.
Check out these seven steps to cup at home!
1. Setting up single-origin
We recommend buying 2 or 3 different single-origin coffees – you can ask your local coffee roaster or specialty shop to get some "enlightenment" on this. Buying more than one single-origin is necessary for taste comparison needs. We can't distinguish flavors if there are no distinctive components, can we?
2. Prepare the containers
You don't need to use the professional cupper tools first – unless you have a particular budget for this. The simplest way to start is by using two or three french presses. They can be small in size to avoid coffee from being wasted and prevent you from consuming too much coffee.
First, weigh the coffee beans at a ratio of 8.25 grams per 150 ml of water, then grind the coffee according to the SCAA cupping ration standard. Brew coffee with the french press and let the coffee cool down for a moment because it will be easier to recognize taste when consuming warm coffee rather than hot coffee.
4. Start observing the taste
Alternate between tasting the different coffees. Take a sip or two of one coffee before switching to another. As you take a sip, think about what the coffee tastes like compared to others.
5. Be focused
Focus on the texture first. For example, does one coffee taste more 'full' than the other? Does the other one have more sweetness than the other? And so on. Don't look at the label or flavor notes on the coffee packaging. Preferably, try writing down the characters and flavors you get based on your personal experience.
6. Never worry about the flavor
The flavor or taste of coffee is said to be the most intimidating aspect of the tasting process and the most frustrating. A roaster generally uses these flavors to describe the most dominant characteristics (such as 'nutty' or 'floral') and the various flavors. For example, if there is a note indicating 'ripe apple' in a single origin, the coffee should give you an idea that it has both sweetness and acidity at the same time. It's a bit complicated. But that's okay; you can always learn this with more practice. Don't worry about being right or wrong. Whatever characteristics come to mind at the time, write them down.
When you finish cupping, compare your notes with the description laid out in the purchased single-origin package -- are they close? This step helps you, especially if you are confused about adequately describing the taste. Reading the flavor notes on the single-origin package might help add to the list of flavors in your dictionary.
In the end, observing and explaining the taste and character of coffee will become easier as you practice. And no less important, you should not stop at just one or two single origins. The more single origins you try, the richer your repertoire of flavors with coffee will be.
There are also a few things you need to note during cupping:
- No distractions as they may disturb your focus
- No other odors such as perfume, lotion, body odor, and cigarette smoke
- You're suggested to fast before cupping. Don't cup immediately after eating, drinking flavorful beverages, chewing gum, and even brushing your teeth.
- According to Patriot Craft Coffee, try to cup 2-3 hours after waking up as your senses are most alert.
- If you're cupping with other people, don't talk to each other as it will influence the results.
- Cup consistently
Good luck cupping at home!