Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cupping; first look

Freshly ground coffee for cupping

Coffee cupping also known as coffee tasting is the practice of observing the tastes and aromas of the brewed coffee. This is a profession, a coffee tasting and selecting job; meaning that all available coffee from shelves at the local supermarket or the special coffee shop is chosen by coffee tasting professionals. These hired experts decides which flavor, notes and aroma the specific coffee possesses and thereby judging the quality, uniqueness and price of the bean.

Its mostly a professional practice, but can be performed informally by anyone or what the professionals calls master tasters. A standard coffee cupping procedure involves deeply sniffing the aroma of the ground coffee, then slurping the coffee - distributing it throughout the entire mouth. The coffee tasters attempt to measure different aspects of the coffee´s taste, listed below;

The Body - the texture or mouthfeel, such as oiliness. 
Sweetness - the perceived sweetness at the sides of the tongue. 
Acidity - a sharp and tangy feeling at the tip of the tongue, like when biting into an orange. 
Flavor - the characters in the cup 
Aftertaste - the notes that reveals itself after consumption
The first step is to freshly ground some coffee beans into a cup of porcelain or glass; hereby you are able to lift the cup and toss the ground coffee a little, so it lifts a little - sending some fantastic aromas from the cup. These aromas can be recorded by smelling directly into the cup while tossing the ground coffee around in the cup - use the aroma and taste wheel to describe the scents; Aroma and Taste wheel.

Pouring heated water upon the ground coffee

When you have explored the different scents that the coffee grounds is providing, then slowly pour heated water upon the coffee. This will start the brewing process and completely change the former located scents from the coffee.

Before you go to the next step; the coffee should extract for about four minutes to achieve the optimal flavor and aroma extraction.

Ground coffee, oils and co2 gas leftovers from the brewed cup

When the brewing period is coming to its end, there will be formed a  top layer of ground coffee, oils and co2 gasses, which is leftovers from the coffee. This top layer is also a good indication for a premium and fresh coffee.

Removing the brewing leftovers with a spoon

To remove the leftover layer, take a spoon and gently remove the oils, ground coffee and co2 gasses by using the spoon in the surface of the brewed coffee.

NOTE: When firstly removing the top layer of leftovers, be sure to smell the escaping scents - because these will have changed sufficient from the previous aroma testing.

The general reason for removing these elements/components from the coffee is to ensure, that you will be able to reach and taste only the brewed coffee and therefore non-effected from the leftovers.

Brewed cup for cupping

After you have removed the brewed leftovers, the coffee is ready for cupping. NOTE: If your coffee is still very hot, you might have quickened the previous steps, therefore let the coffee cool down to "normal" coffee drinking temperature. If the coffee is too warm, you can't explore the tastes and aromas hidden in the coffee, because it will be sealed behind the heat.

Aroma and taste exploring using a spoon

When the coffee has reached its right temperature, grap a table spoon and start tasting. Its important that you ingest the coffee as quickly as possible, so the different flavors of the coffee is distributed/spread to the taste buds within the mouth.

Coffee Cupping Sheet

If you want to keep records of the different coffees that you have tried, maybe you should fill a coffee cupping sheet, shown above, pr. coffee. The sheet will bring you through the important steps like the aroma, sweetness, taste, mouth feel, bitterness and aftertaste, which is used to describe the overall impression of a coffee bean.

Hope you will explore this way of testing aroma and taste of the different available coffees of the world.

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// Hendrup

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