Many of us are familiar with the art of wine tasting – the swirling, smelling and sipping. Tasting (or cupping as we call it) coffee is a very similar process. Rave Coffee’s Brooke Purdon (Head of Coffee) tells us a little about the process.
WHAT IS COFFEE CUPPING?
In a nutshell it is tasting coffee - however it’s also an industry standard for measuring coffee quality and a skill you develop to identify the depths of flavour and even defects in coffee. There is an industry standard set out by Speciality Coffee Association (SCA) for cupping coffee which is used by all those involved in coffee production from Coffee Farmers, Importers, Roasters & Barista’s. This ensures a common language between all parties.
Cupping can be done for various reasons - here at Rave Coffee we will check coffee samples from the country of origin up to 4 times before we accept a delivery, we do this to check the quality and flavor match the original offers we were sent. We also quality control our Roasted Coffee beans by cupping, use it for developing our tasting notes and as an educational tool for staff.
HOW TO CUP COFFEE AT HOME:
As with wine tasting you need to eliminate bias - it is recommended that you don’t wear any strong cologne/perfume and you shouldn’t smoke or eat any pungent foods beforehand that may impact your taste buds. This may sound odd but you shouldn’t talk to others whilst cupping as this can really affect bias and opinions. It is always recommended to cup blind if tasting several coffees i.e don’t reveal the names of the coffees until after everyone has finished tasting.
What you will need:
NOTES: Rinse spoons in a mug of water between coffees
Allow the coffee to cool for 8 minutes
For professional Cupping we ‘score’ the coffee on the following however if you’re doing this at home then just use the below as a guide and make your own notes
Formally, the scoring system using the SCA standards is 6-10 (6 being good, very good, outstanding, excellent - 10 is perfect and therefore laughably never achieved) Based on the overall score out of 100 - Rave Coffee only Source coffees that score 80-95 points, with our single origins scoring a minimum of 85.
WHY COFFEE VARIES SO MUCH IN FLAVOUR – JUST LIKE WINE DOES!
There is a huge variety of coffee out there to try (or cup!), ranging in flavour and style depending on the type of bean, origin and roaster. Environmental factors like terroir and climate, as well as production methods, all play a key part in a coffee’s flavour – just like it does in winemaking.
Every coffee is unique, and even the same varietal grown in different countries will present differently in the cup, much how a Merlot grown in France will be different to a Merlot from Chile. Thanks to the unpredictability of weather, a coffee bean will even vary in style and flavour year to year, in the same way grapes in a vineyard react to the climate, leading to changes in the wine with each vintage.
With so much in common in how coffee beans and grapes are shaped by their environment, and with so many coffee and wine styles out there to explore, you can see how coffee cupping and wine tasting are not so different after all.
So, there you have it, how to coffee cup like a pro. And if you fancy having a go at tasting wine like a pro (and seeing for yourself just how similar the processes are!) then check out this handy guide on How To Taste Wine by our friends over at Virgin Wines Take a peak at your Rave Orders for a great offer from these guys too.
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