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Step by step: professional coffee cupping

31 july 201731 july 2017

Professionally tasting coffee is an art form. Here's the process of 'cupping' grinds to get the best experience. 
  • Dosage — one standard used around the world is 8.25g per 150ml of water (55g/1Ltr). Grind your coffee on a medium-fine setting using a burr grinder, and place directly into your cup or bowl. (Remember to multiply your dosage depending on the volume of your vessel.)
  • Smell — use that powerhouse of your senses, the nose, to take in the character of the coffee as dry grounds, the fragrance of the coffee. Here you should pick up an indication of what your coffee may taste like.
  • Water — boil your filtered water and allow it to sit for 30 seconds off the heat. Pour the water directly over the grinds in your bowl and allow it to steep for 3 – 4 minutes.
  • Breaking the crust — if you have the right amount of grinds in your cup, you will find that they have formed a crust over the coffee liquid below: breaking the crust is one of the most intense sensory aspects of cupping. Get your nose as close as possible to the cup and break the crust by pushing the grinds back and down into the cup. As you break this encapsulating cover, a rush of trapped coffee aromatics will wash over your ready senses, providing you with the aroma of the coffee. (Make sure that you rinse your spoon between each cup to avoid any cross contamination.)
     
 
  • Clear the surface — once you have broken the crust on all the coffees, use your spoons to clear the surface of any remaining grinds, again remembering not to cross contaminate.
  • Taste! Using a deep-bowled dessert spoon, dip it into your coffee and use a big slurp to take the liquid into your mouth: the idea is to combine the coffee with air to allow it to vaporise and hit more of your taste buds, such as those on the roof of your mouth. Spitting out after tasting is preferred by many professional cuppers due to the volume of samples they have to get to, but you don’t have to be so strict with your own experimentations — just enjoy the process.
This is an excerpt of an article that originally appeared on the Five Sense Coffee blog