From Seed to Cup #4: Tasting
Coffee tasting, also known as cupping, is the practice of observing tastes and aromas of brewed coffee. This is an important part of the coffee exportation process to ensure consistent quality and taste. This methodized process is usually held in a specially designed tasting room consisting of a long table, several coffee tasting cups, and coffee tasting spoons.
A standard coffee tasting procedure involves deeply sniffing the coffee, then loudly slurping the coffee so that it spreads to the back of the taster’s tongue. In tasting, a taster often looks for a coffee’s body, sweetness, acidity, flavor, and aftertaste.
Let’s take a closer look at this important process.
The Tasting Process 1: Aroma
The tasting process begins with the taster - usually called the cupper - examining the beans for their overall visual quality.
Beans are then roasted in a laboratory roaster and immediately ground and brewed within carefully controlled parameters. Next, the cupper noses the freshly brewed cup to fully experience its aroma.
Here is a chart with the various descriptions that can, and have been used to describe a coffee’s aroma:
The Tasting Process 2: Body
After letting the coffee rest for a few minutes, the cupper then breaks the coffee’s crust by pushing aside grounds at the top of the cup. Then, the coffee is nosed once more before tasting begins.
In order to taste the coffee, the cupper slurps a spoonful with a quick inhalation. The inhalation may be noisy, but the goal is to spray the coffee evenly over the cupper’s taste buds, and to weigh it on the cupper’s tongue before spitting it out.
Here is a list of possible notes and flavors to expect from coffee around the world:
Coffee Tasting Summary
There are thousands of samples, and batches, from a variety of different beans, that are tested on the daily.
This process of tasting is not only important to determine a coffee’s characteristics and flaws, but also for blending different beans to create proper roasts. Interestingly, an expert cupper may taste hundreds of samples in a day, and still recognize the subtle differences between them.
Now that you understand the essential process of coffee tasting, it’s time to explore all the different flavors and notes out there.
Hope you found something useful. Till next time,