Cupping: tasting, testing, and revising

Cupping: tasting, testing, and revising

Let's get meta.  You all have gone through the variety of training devices we have at Alchemy but if you went to a different shop chances are their training would be different. 

All coffee shops trying to achieve the same goal, provide great customer service and serve and excellent product. Cupping might be the only fully standardized coffee procedure in our industry.

Folk's who try and cup coffees in a weird way seriously freak me out. They are on par with people who refer to coffee beans as seeds. And while they are technically seeds you sound like an ass.

Cool but what is cupping?

Cupping is a coffee tasting technique used by coffee professionals to evaluate coffee aroma and the flavor profile of a coffee. There is a classic design of cupping cup that looks kind of like what you'd imagine a side of soup might be served in at a diner. Coffee is weighed out to 12.5 gram samples and are ground coarse directly into these cups. Typically you don't want to leave the coffee ground for more than 15 minutes. Hot water is then poured directly onto the cups where the coffee will brew for 4 minutes when it will be ready to taste and evaluate. Let's take a second to dig a little bit more into each one of these steps.

Standardized Dose

As I mentioned before the critical thing about cupping is that we do it the same every time. This means that if I set up a cupping at the cafe, the warehouse, Kansas City, or Kenya, I should have a consistent experience. By using the same dose, grind setting, and vessel I know that the coffee will have the same strength. It can be super distracting if you are used to cupping at a specific strength and then try and cup something weaker or stronger, you won't be able to effectively evaluate the coffee for taste.

We always cup at Alchemy 12.5 grams of coffee with 187 grams of water this is a brew ration of 15:1. If grinding at 816 we will grind the coffee at 3.5.


Once the coffee is dosed out and ground we will start the cupping process by evaluated the dry aroma of each coffee. We do this by well, bringing the cup of ground coffee up to our nose and breathing in. You are assessing whether the coffee smells like fruits, chocolates, or sugars, and what is the quality of these aromas.


How is the coffee tasting? What are you tasting? I have work sheets for formal cupping, these sheets help with the anxiety of "I don't know what I'm tasting, it tastes like coffee!" Coffee is nuanced and its flavors are subjective, by using work sheets we can enter a familiar vocabulary. 

Want to cup? Email me or ask me about it when you see me at the shop! It works better in groups of 3-5 folks so if you can drag your coworkers to doing it then perfect!

Benjamin FarmerComment