In the last/first edition of "Cupping with Ed", we gave you an overview of Green Coffee Quality Control at Rogers Family Company. Part of that was a quick run down of coffee cupping. In this edition, we observe an actual cupping session.
The process begins with smelling the ground coffee. An sensory examination of the aromas: notes of brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, flowery and possibly nutty are examined.
Go ahead, grab your coffee, and just smell it for a second. Focus on the aromas, and see if you are able to detect the subtleties in the variety.
Next is brewing the coffee. Each cup steeps in hot water for (4) four minutes. A second round of aroma detection is done, and then they break the coffee for a third sniff.
At each turn, the Coffee Graders are writing down their individual scores for each stage. It isn't until the end when they reveal the scores for discussion.
Finally, the group starts cupping/slurping the coffee. Each Grader asks themselves various questions:
- Is it sour or sweet?
- Tangy or mild?
- Bitter or salty?
The result of each individual and collective experience is a numbered score. The score determines the purchase approval or denial of the coffees cupped in that session.
After the individual scoring has taken place, the group compares scores and discusses any extreme differences. In this case, there was one coffee that required a second cupping.
In this session, the group cupped 12 different coffees for purchase approval. Coffee cupping as a team makes sure the coffees are uniform. On this particular day, the group had consistent results.
Here are a few key elements to ensure a successful cupping session:
- No verbal interaction during the process.
- Four-minute brewing.
- Three (3) cuppers.
- Group discussion of scores to find consensus.
- Re-cup if necessary to achieve consensus of the cupping scores.
Give it a try! You would be amazed at what will be able to detect if you just allow yourself to observe with all your senses. If you work at it long enough your might be able to develop super olfactory powers too. Just be sure to use your powers for good.