Coffee 101 - Cupping

Coffee is what we live and breathe but more often than not we find most people don’t fully understand how intricate the process is. If you have dipped a toe (or like us your whole body) into coffee culture, you may have heard the term “cupping”. What does that mean and why does it matter? Let’s dive in and find out:

Welcome to the world of “cupping”!

Without a standard way of tasting coffee, how would we be able to compare cup to cup? That’s where cupping comes in. The taste of different coffees can be easily influenced by very tiny variations in the brewing methods. That’s why preparing and tasting craft coffee in an unbiased and proper way lets the flavour shine through so that it can be compared and ranked.

Where do we begin?  

The SCA (Specialty Coffee Association) spells out in fine detail how to cup, so that everyone in the coffee world can be on the same page. From how to roast, what grind to use, how to pour water on the beans (really…that matters!), how long to wait and how to stir, the individual components you are looking for…and the list goes on…it’s all standardized to ensure commonality across the board.

The long and short of it…

Coffee beans will sit for 8 or so hours after roasting, then be ground to a specific level. Once the beans are ground, within 15 minutes of grinding, you pour 200-degree Fahrenheit, non-softened, non-distilled water over them, and let it sit for 3-5 minutes.

After the short wait, stir the coffee in a slow and steady motion three times to “break the crust”. This will release the gases that built up from the brewing process. Make sure to keep your nose near the surface and take a nice deep breath in! Notice all the smells you encounter…it’s the best part of the experience in our humble opinion.

Around 8-10 minutes after “breaking the crust”, you can begin tasting with your cupping spoon. It may sound strange but slurp back the spoonfuls of coffee as fast as you can so that the liquid covers as much of your mouth as possible. Think of it like slurping down soup! Continue this cupping motion every couple of minutes as it slowly cools down to room temperature, focusing on the many delicious smells radiating from the coffee. We look at the body, aroma, sweetness, acidity, and balance among other things.  And breathing the greatest smell on earth doesn’t make it all that challenging!

During the cupping process, various aspects of the coffee are graded, with the final tally being between 0-100, with anything over 80 being considered speciality and 90-100 being relatively rare (and more expensive).

And there you have it!

Though it may sound intricate and specific, cupping is an important process in the wonderful world of coffee. Want to give it a try on your own? Reach out and we can get you started.

At Seventh Coffee Company, we are in the business of turning casual coffee drinkers into enthusiasts. Welcome to our world where coffee is an experience, not just a jolt of caffeine.


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