Are you familiar with the term coffee cupping? Coffee cupping is the practice of evaluating coffee based on a number of specific qualities—similar to a wine tasting. While professional coffee tasters or “Master Tasters” perform this ritual with the refinery one would expect of someone with an exceptional level of coffee education, the average consumer can take a few notes on what to look for when evaluating a good cup of coffee.
Here are the five areas one should analyze when evaluating the quality of a good cup of coffee:
- Aroma – Coffees can have a broad range of aromas, often connected to where they were grown, how they were processed and roasted. Aromas may be floral, fruity, nutty, spicy, smoky, etc. Coffee that has been processed poorly may be musty or unpleasant in aroma.
- Mouthfeel & Body – This area specifically refers to the texture and feel of the coffee in one’s mouth. Evaluate whether the coffee is rich and full or thin and light; whether it feels water or oily.
- Acidity – Most coffees possess some level of acidity, especially those grown at high altitudes. Some of it comes down to preference as to how much acidity one prefers in a cup of coffee. Coffees with lower acidities are considered mild, while those with high acidities are often perceived to be fruity. Both high- and low-acidity coffees can be of superior quality, however, watch out for those that fall to the extremes of too acidic or completely flat.
- Flavor – When identifying the actual flavor of coffee, one typically limits it to sweet, sour or bitter. The natural sugar content within coffee beans may result in a sweet, caramelized flavor, while high acidity can result in an overly bitter taste. You may notice that the flavor of your coffee is complex or layered and not simply bound to one flavor.
- Finish – Once you swallow or spit (if you’re tasting rather than drinking) your coffee, what do you notice? Do you detect a lingering or emerging flavor?
Have you ever gone to a professional coffee cupping? If not and you simply wish to experience your coffee in a new way, try to evaluate it using these five areas next time you stop by Thinking Cup.