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Coffee Cupping: A Beginner’s Guide To Mastering It At Home In 9 Easy Steps!

Coffee Cupping: A Beginner's Guide to Mastering It at Home in 9 Easy Steps!

Coffee Cupping: A Beginner's Guide to Mastering It at Home in 9 Easy Steps!

Have you ever heard of coffee cupping and thought it was only for elite baristas with a sophisticated palate? Think again! While professional cupping can be intricate and highly detailed, it’s an activity that any coffee enthusiast can enjoy. Cupping is an exciting way to deepen your coffee knowledge, connect with fellow coffee lovers, and have fun.

Here’s a straightforward introduction to coffee cupping, including a step-by-step guide for doing it at home.

What is Coffee Cupping?

Coffee cupping is a standardized process used by coffee professionals to evaluate the aroma and flavor profile of coffee beans. From growers to roasters, cupping is essential for quality control. The process involves brewing coffee and assessing its qualities to ensure a rich and complex final product.

For us enthusiasts, cupping offers a method to taste, compare, and appreciate different coffees, ultimately helping us brew better coffee at home.

Getting Started with Coffee Cupping

The goal of cupping is to evaluate the flavor, quality, and potential of coffee beans. While there are many variations, consistency in your method is key. This guide outlines a preferred method, but feel free to make minor adjustments to suit your preferences. Just stick to your chosen method to ensure reliable comparisons.

Key Elements of Coffee Cupping

1.Coffee Beans and Roast Types:

– Use single-origin beans to highlight regional differences.
– Lightly roasted beans are ideal, though medium roasts can work in a pinch. Avoid dark roasts as they mask the beans’ natural flavors.
– Use freshly roasted beans, ideally within two weeks of their roast date.


– The Specialty Coffee Association recommends 8.25 grams of coffee per 150 ml of water. Consistency is crucial, so pick a ratio and stick with it.

3.Grind Size:

– Use a burr grinder to achieve a medium-coarse grind, similar to what you’d use for a Chemex.

4.Water Quality:

– Use good quality, well-filtered water. Avoid distilled water as it can affect extraction. Consider products like Third Wave Water for optimal mineral balance.

The Coffee Cupping Process

1.Set Up:

– Arrange your supplies, including bowls, spoons, a burr grinder, a scale, filtered hot water, a kettle, a tall glass, cupping forms, a flavor wheel, and note-taking materials.
– Label each bowl to keep track of different coffee samples without bias.

2.Heat the Water:

– Boil water and let it cool for about 60 seconds. The ideal temperature is between 195-205°F.

3.Prepare the Coffee Beans:

– Weigh out two portions of each type of coffee: a 4-gram batch for priming and an 8.25-gram batch for tasting.

4.Prime and Grind:

– Prime the grinder with the 4-gram batch, then grind the 8.25-gram batch. Use freshly ground coffee within 15 minutes of grinding.

5.Smell the Grounds:

– Take a deep sniff of each coffee sample with your mouth open. Note any aromas you detect, such as spices, fruits, or other unique scents.

6.Add Hot Water:

– Pour 150 ml of hot water into each bowl of coffee grounds. Fill the tall glass with hot water to rinse spoons between samples.

7.Smell Again:

– After adding water, smell each sample again to note any changes in aroma.

8.Break the Crust and Smell Again:

– After 3-4 minutes, break the crust of floating grounds using warmed spoons. Smell the coffee again, as this aroma is closest to its actual taste.

9.Taste the Coffee:

– Scoop a spoonful of coffee from each bowl, avoiding grounds, and sip it, allowing it to coat your palate. Note the flavors, body, acidity, and finish.

Debrief and Discuss

After cupping, compare notes with friends if you’re cupping together. Discuss the flavors and aromas you each detected before checking the official flavor profiles of the coffees. Consider hosting a coffee tasting party or attending a local cupping event to broaden your experience.

Coffee Cupping: Final Thoughts

Congratulations on completing your first coffee cupping session! This process is a fantastic way to enhance your understanding and appreciation of coffee. Enjoy the journey of discovering new flavors and deepening your coffee expertise. If you found this guide helpful, please share it with others who might enjoy exploring coffee cupping.

Happy cupping!


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