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What is Coffee Cupping?

Feb 12, 2020 Most Recent

Wine tasting has been around for a long time, and everyone has heard of it. Coffee tasting has also been around for a long time, though, because it's what the experts in the coffee world do to assess roasts and beans. Better known as coffee cupping, it's a method to understand the flavor, aroma, and quality of a coffee. While the experts try hundreds of coffees a day, anyone can try coffee cupping. You can participate in coffee cupping classes, or you can host an event of your own with your friends! All you need is coffee, cups, spoons, and water. Here's how to host your own coffee tasting night.

1. Choose the coffee.

Here at J.L. Hufford, we're of course going to recommend J.L. Hufford Coffee. We're not only being biased though, we offer a huge selection of different flavored coffees, from cinnamon roll to Turkish blend, Superautomatika to almond amaretto. Here are a few we think you should start off with.

Check out all of our coffees to pick which ones you want at your coffee tasting!

2. Get the drinkware.

You can't drink coffee without something to drink it from. The best kind of cups you would want to use are small ones, such as a 3 oz. or up to a 6 oz. The drinkware is an important aspect of your coffee tasting because you will want the right look. We recommend using notNeutral drinkware for your cupping session. Specifically, we have the notNeutral MENO Cupping Vessel, which is meant for cupping! If you want something with a little more style, then you can use the notNeutral VERO Cortado Glasses, because they come in a classic clear color, a dramatic smoke color, a fun rose color, or a mellow amber color.They're also the perfect size for sampling coffee, neither too big nor too small to appreciate the taste of whatever coffee you're consuming. In coffee tasting, you can get away with bigger samples of coffee than you can in wine tasting (you can't get drunk off of coffee), and sometimes you might need a few sips to really appreciate your caffeinated beverage, so we also recommend the notNeutral VERO Cappuccino Glasses. These glasses come in the same stylish colors as the cortado ones, but are 6 ounces instead. Once you decide on your drinkware, it's time to move on to the next step.

3. Appraise the dry coffee grounds.

You will want your coffee to be finely ground, with no visibly large particles. While grinding, take in the fragrance of the beans. For experts, the fragrance is an important part. For coffee lover's, it's one of the more satisfying parts. The fragrance shifts instantly upon grinding, and changes even after a few minutes after room temperature. So while grinding, really take in the aroma. Is it rich? Subtle? Make sure there is not cross contamination between coffees when grinding, and make notes as to the difference between each kind.   

4. Make the coffee.

The standard method of cupping is a very hands on method and involves brewing your coffee in your glass, and will require 6 oz. glasses. You'll first want to measure two tablespoons of the freshly ground coffee of your choice. Boil water, and once boiled let the bubbling subside by keeping it at about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Fill the glass halfway with the hot water, wait about thirty seconds, and then fill the rest of the way. Wait three minutes, and then stir the drink while inhaling the aroma. Once you're done stirring, wait approximately seven minutes for the coffee to cool, because you can't appreciate the taste if it's too hot. A "crust" should form at the top, and you will want to spoon it out and place in another cup (pro-tip: you can dispense the crusted coffee grounds into another cup and perform a coffee ground fortune telling). 

This method is standard in "coffee cupping," or coffee tasting. It is more hands on and can be fun for tasters. However, it is more common in a coffee tasting class, and if you would like to host a coffee tasting even yourself, brewing the coffee in a machine might be easier for you. Take your pick on how you want to go about it!

5. Try each coffee.

In a coffee cupping class, you will typically slurp the coffee from a spoon, swish it around your mouth so your palette is covered, and then spit it out. Slurping and spitting might seem gross, but it's very common in these classes. After sampling the coffees, typically people will have a cup of their favorite one or two. The reason why tasters spit out the coffee is so they don't get jittery, the same way people spit out wine at wine tasting so they don't get intoxicated. It's after the sampling when you go for a full glass. However, if you're hosting your own event and you only have a couple of coffee, your guests could probably get away with swallowing some of the coffee. 

Be sure to have fun with coffee cupping. Whether you're taking a class or hosting your friends, coffee cupping is all the better if you keep a fun and positive state of mind. What's better than drinking coffee anyway?

Let us know how your coffee cupping goes by tagging us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook!

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