How to Cup a Coffee

coffee displayed in glasses

The term ‘cupping score’ is bandied around by coffee roasters and drinkers alike. But what actually is a ‘cupping score’ and how do you cup a coffee?

You may have seen some pictures of the Redber team around a table of glasses, slurping coffee from a spoon… this is the mysterious ‘cupping’.

Cupping coffee

Cupping is a critical tool across the entire coffee industry: whether on the farm itself, at the auctions where coffees are tested and valued, for exporters and importers to check quality, for roasters like us, and for coffee shops!

Today we cupped four coffees all in medium-dark roast: Sumatra Mandheling, Costa Rica Amapola Tarrazu, Ethiopia Yirgacheffe, and Colombia Finca Sofia.

So how do we cup a coffee?

  1. Grind exactly 8.25g of coffee per sample and place in cup.
  2. Boil the water. The temperature of hot water must be 93C.
  3. Pour into the coffee cups. We pour 150ml of water per sample (0.055g coffee/1ml water). 
  4. Let stand for four minutes so the grinds settle.
  5. Break the crust. The crust is a layer of floating coffee grinds that have formed on the top of the coffee sample. With a cupping spoon, we break the crust by pushing the grinds to the rim of the glass.
  6. Inhale the aroma coming from the coffee sample. Repeat for each cup.
  7. Remove the grinds with two cupping spoons. 
  8. Taste! We fill the spoon and slurp the coffee while inhaling. The coffee should coat the whole tongue. After tasting each sample, we record all the tasting notes and compare our thoughts once finished. 
Pour hot water on coffee grounds

Our Findings

SUMATRA MANDHELING
Aroma: woody, spicy
Flavour: cocoa, sweet
Body: full-bodied
Acidity: low
COSTA RICA AMAPOLA TARRAZU
Aroma: floral, sweet, 
Flavour: nutty, sweet, apple
Body: medium
Acidity: high
ETHIOPIA YIRGACHEFFE
Aroma: fruity, flowery
Flavour: citrusy, tea-like
Body: medium
Acidity: high 
COLOMBIA SOFIA
Aroma: chocolatey
Flavour: sweet, dark chocolate, grapefruit
Body: smooth
Acidity: mild

Make sure you keep an eye our for our next coffee tasting!