Coffee cupping

Like in the case of wine, there is also a way to organoleptically evaluate coffee and it is called CUPPING.
In cupping we evaluate different characteristics:
Fragrance: When grinding grain.
Aroma: Smelling the infusion.
Taste: Testing the infusion
Retronasal: Stimulation of vapors in the mouth, sipping the coffee.
Aftertaste: After spitting coffee.
Body: Rated by the density and texture of the drink.
There are two basic forms of Coffee Cupping: The Brazilian Cupping, used in countries where coffee is grown, and Espresso Cupping, which is done by the consumer.

It is the most often used method of tasting coffee in the countries its origin. It is not the coffee we normally prepare that undergoes the cupping process, but a slight infusion that allows us to evaluate most coffee features.

On tasting, the infusion is provided with green beans and roasted beans served on a tray. Being able to see the grain before and after toasting, gives us important information which has great influence on the results of the cupping process. The tasting starts with evaluating the fragrance of ground toasted grain, which will indicate its freshness and if there is some kind of rancidity by aging.

To prepare the infusion, we take a glass with boiling water and add 8 grams of very coarse ground coffee. At first the coffee floats to the top, but then it sinks to the bottom. Then coffee is stirred with a spoon and the floating parts are removed. Then it is tasted from a spoon which should be broad, round and silver.
We sip the liquid with lips put together as if we were going to whistle. The fact of sipping must be fast so that vaporization inside the mouth occurs.

There is a cupping form on which are written the features which we are evaluating and we mark them from 1 to 10. The following factors are taken into account:

  • Acidityis detectedon the sidesof the tongue.
  • Bitterness -at the rearof the tongue.
  • Sweetness -at the tipof the tongue.
  • Salt content -in the lateralfrontpart of the tongue.

We can train ourselves at locating those features in the mouth using sugar, lemon, salt and Bitter. Not all flavors are detected at once:
Sweet flavour appears first, it is then followed by salty and acid ones, and, after a while, the bitter flavour (after approx.10 sec).

At this point we should indicate that acidity is a positive feature of coffee because it provides resilience, without which coffee seems flat and without personality.

The body is a fundamental aspect when evaluating coffee. The body has nothing to do with the feeling of strength in taste, but is the tactile sensation caused by the density of the drink and by the suspended elements, mainly fats and oils.


Unlike in the Brazilian cupping, where the infusion is not ready to be drunk, in Espresso coffee cupping, we assess all the essential parameters of Espresso coffee: cream, body and organoleptic characteristics defined in the Brazilian cupping.

In this case, after each sip of coffee, it is convenient to rinse your mouth well because the espresso taste is very strong.

Coffee can be tasted with sugar if the person is accustomed to it, but making sure that in all coffees the amount of dissolved sugar is the same.

An essential feature of Espresso Coffee is the cream, which is nothing more than an emulsion of coffee oils with pressurized hot water. The shape, colour and consistency of the cream will give us an idea of ​​how the extraction has been performed as well as the quality of coffee used. Dark cream will indicate an excess of Robusta coffee in the mixture or the presence of roasted coffee.

The cream should be about 2 mm thick, persistent and compact, of hazel colour with a black speck which gives it tabby appearance. One way to see the firmness of the cream is placing a spoonful of sugar on top and measure the time it takes to cross the cream.

Cupping is done by violent sipping, like in the case of the Brazilian cupping, looking for the flavors that have previously been defined.
It should be pointed out that acid coffee is synonymous with quality, such as Arabica Coffee of the highest quality. The higher the acidity, the greater the quality.

Bitterness of the coffee will indicate the presence of Robusta, the bigger the quantity, the higher the level of bitterness. At this point the information we have obtained about the degree of toasting is of vital importance, since excessive toasting can lead to an Arabica coffee becoming bitter.