Cupping coffee is an essential practice for specialty coffee businesses. This process, which involves evaluating and tasting brewed coffee, allows specialty coffee professionals to judge the quality of various coffees. Through cupping, specialty coffee businesses are able to identify flaws or off-flavors in the beans as well as sustain a consistent level of quality throughout their product offerings. Here are five reasons why cupping is important for specialty coffee businesses:
- Quality Control
- Roast Profiling
1. Quality Control
Cupping allows specialty coffee businesses to control the quality of their product. By evaluating a sample of coffee, roasters can identify any defects in the coffee beans that would have an unfavorable impact on taste and aromas as well as positive tasting notes. This helps ensure that roasted beans meet certain quality standards and gives everyone in the coffee supply chain visibility into the coffee's potential as it relates to quality.
Through regular cupping sessions, roasters can monitor how batches of coffee change over time and check for consistency in flavor profiles. This is especially important when dealing with single-origin coffees where batch variation can be significant from one harvest to another. Properly done, cupping will help maintain consistent flavors from one roast to another, ensuring customer satisfaction is maintained.
Green coffee buyers cup coffee before purchase to evaluate potential beans and determine whether they meet their quality standards. Cupping helps them identify characteristics such as aroma, acidity, sweetness, and body that contribute to the overall cup profile. By doing this they can make an informed decision on which coffees they would like to purchase, ensuring they get the best product available. When roasters are working with a new coffee, the cupping process provides insight into the flavor profile and quality of that particular batch. This helps ensure that roasters are sourcing high-quality beans for their products, as well as allowing them to adjust their roast profiles accordingly.
4. Roast Profiling
Cupping helps roasters determine which roast profiles suit certain coffees best. By tasting brewed coffee at various levels of roast, they can decide on the optimal point where flavors become most pronounced or desirable and adjust their roasting parameters accordingly. When cupping is done regularly, roasters can identify both positive and negative changes in the coffee through cupping and better provide more consistent coffee at scale.
Finally, cupping is an excellent way for anyone to educate themselves about the flavors and aromas of coffee. By tasting different coffees side-by-side, it is much easier to identify flavor notes and nuances that may have previously been unnoticed. Cupping is an excellent way to start to develop sensory awareness when tasting coffee and better understand the process of selecting and roasting great coffee.
What is the Coffee Cupping Score?
The cupping score is a crucial part of specialty coffee, used to judge its quality and consistency. The cuppers will award a score based on the evaluation criteria such as aroma, flavor, body, acidity, sweetness, and balance. This score can range between 0-100, with higher scores generally indicating higher-quality beans. Those scoring in the high 80s and low 90s are considered excellent examples of the beans' potential to create sensational cups of coffee. An understanding of this scoring system is essential for anyone in the specialty coffee industry to ensure their product meets the highest standards of quality.
The Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) has created a Cupping Sheet that guides coffee professionals on how to evaluate their coffee. It includes categories such as Appearance, Aroma, Body, Flavor, Aftertaste, Acidity, Balance, Sweetness and Overall. Each category is scored out of 10 points and the final rating is given in Total Points out of 100. This sheet provides an easy-to-follow scoring system that allows baristas and roasters alike to standardize the process of evaluating their coffee beans for quality control and consistency. We use the SCA cupping methodology at Foster Coffee, but there are a variety of sheets and methods for scoring.
Cupping is an essential part of the specialty coffee industry and provides significant benefits to green buyers, roasters, and baristas alike. By carefully evaluating coffees before, during, and after roasting, quality can be consistently maintained. Furthermore, cupping helps guide producers in selecting beans for purchase as well as determining optimal roast profiles for each batch. Finally, it is an excellent tool for anyone looking to improve their understanding of coffee flavors and aromas. The SCA Cupping Score Sheet serves as a standard evaluation procedure that allows professionals and hobbyists alike to accurately assess the quality of their coffee. Overall, cupping is an invaluable practice that ensures a consistently high-quality product is provided for customers throughout the entire specialty coffee process.
Want to see a cupping score in action?
Check out our special release coffee with cupping score displayed on the label.