The lower end of the scale is below specialty grade. Evaluation Procedure Samples should first be visually inspected for roast color. This is marked on the sheet and may be used as a reference during the rating of specific flavor attributes. After infusing with water, the crust is left unbroken for at least 3 minutes but not more than 5 minutes. Breaking of the crust is done by stirring 3 times, then allowing the foam to run down the back of the spoon while gently sniffing.
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Understanding what these terms mean, along with the repeated practice, will set you on the right path towards becoming a competent cupper. Although the terminology is relatively straight forward, you will see that many terms differ in meaning from country to country.
Table 1 below summarizes some of the most commonly used terms during cupping. Within the coffee industry you will see a number of cupping forms in use, each taking bits and pieces to form their own. The form, which is broken up into ten parameters, allows panelists to rate and penalize for any defects found in the cup s. The system is based on a point scale, thereby allowing for the classification of very low quality "Off Grade" coffees to "Super Premium Specialty" coffee.
According to the system, any coffee which has passed physical grading and cups with a score over 80 points is considered "Specialty" grade.
The first step is to ensure that the coffee to be "cupped" is of a light to medium roast. Typically a small sample roaster is used as these roasters provide for greater control and consistency with minimal use of samples. Roast the coffee to a light to medium roast, typically corresponding to an Agtron value between For those without access to an Agtron, the SCAA sells color discs that serve as great points of reference during roasting. It is imperative that a coffee is not roasted past a medium roast, as important flavor notes and potential defects can easily get masked - obviously defeating the point of cupping.
All coffee used should be freshly roasted with no more than hours in age, be uniform in color, air cooled, contain no quakers, and have no scorching or tipping present on the bean.
Preparing the Infusion Once the coffee has been roasted allow it to rest overnight in a clean area. Weight out approximately A minimum of five cups is needed per sample to ensure uniform representation of the coffee sample.
Once all the cups have been weighed out, grind the coffee to a coarse grind and cover the top of the glass with a small sheet of paper well return to this later. Although not mandatory, it is common to have samples of both green and roasted coffee present on the cupping table during the actual cupping. This allows cuppers to visually inspect for any defects and lack of uniformity before the cupping process.
Although "fragrance" and "aroma" are used interchangeably they are quite different. Fragrance refers to the olfactory characteristics of the dry grounds themselves, while "aroma" is in the wet stage. Pour hot water into the cup and allow it to steep for minutes - use a digital timer for this. Once the time is up, gently take your spoon and break the top layer of coffee otherwise known as the "crust". As you break the crust, place you nose as close to the top of the grounds and inhale - as soon as the crust is broken, it will release a large number of volatile compounds.
Record your score on the cupping form. Once recorded, continue stirring the coffee two to three times, allowing the foam to run down the back of the spoon. At this point the coffee will probably be too hot for most people to cup, wait another minutes and allow the coffee to cool before proceeding. Using a rapid suction motion, aspirate the coffee over your tongue and write down your observation for every one of the ten parameters - see Table 1 above.
Defects, Taints and Faults Even though great care is taken to select and process only the best beans at origin, mistakes do happen. And as such, the type and intensity of the defect can manifest itself in a number of different ways in the cup.
A "taint" and is any defect that is noticeable but usually not overwhelming in aromatic aspect. Any taints present in the cup are penalized 2 points. A "fault" is an overwhelming defect typically characterized as a sour, ferment, or phenolic. Faults are subject to 4 points of penalization. To determine the total number of defects, simply multiply the number of cups that contained the defect by its intensity. Record this total pointage, as it will be subtracted from the overall score below.
Classification Scale Once all the parameters have been assessed, we subtract any defects that may have been present and get a Final Score. Table 2: Final Score Classification Final Words Although cupping may seem intimidating at first, with continued practice, the process will soon become second nature.
In addition, there are a number of books that will walk you through the basics of cupping. But perhaps your best resource is the SCAA itself as it hosts a number of training sessions during their annual conference. For more information contact them directly at www.
SCA Arabica Cupping Form (Digital)