Do you know the difference between good coffee and bad coffee? Can you taste the unique flavors in a coffee from Jamaica versus one from Colombia or Kenya? Expert coffee tasters can. The coffee equivalent of a wine-tasting is called a “cupping.” Participants will first smell the dry grounds, identifying the fragrance, which is only used to describe the smell of dry grounds. Aroma is reserved for the actual brewed coffee. Once everyone has taken a whiff of the grounds, the coffee is brewed. After exactly four minutes, everyone “breaks” the coffee’s “crust,” which is formed on top of the cup during its brewing. Some experts like to smell the crust, too, before breaking it by pulling the back of their spoons through the coffee. It’s important to make sure the brew is smooth and free from bits of grounds.
Now comes the fun part! Cuppers (yes, that’s actually what they’re called) drink the coffee from deep spoons. Some spit out the coffee, like wine-tasters, because it’s easy to get too hopped up on the caffeine. They grade each category – aroma, fragrance, body, and acidity – on a scale of 1 to 100.
If you want to develop a more distinguishing palate when it comes to coffee, here are some easy ways to start cupping. It’s a fun and non-alcoholic alternative to wine-tasting, so people of all ages can participate:
● Keep it simple and basic
Whatever coffee you’re drinking, keep it black and well-brewed, no cream or additional flavorings. The coffee should be around 200-degrees Fahrenheit.
● Smell, then sip
Get your nose involved. Think about the aromas you’re smelling. Coffee can
have citrusy or chocolatey fragrances. Then sip, or even slurp, which lets the coffee cool down enough so you can identify flavors other than “hot”.
● Think about where the coffee “hits” your tongue
Coffee can make stronger or weaker flavor impressions on different parts of
your tongue, like the middle versus the sides, and affect your overall experience of the coffee.
● Identify different flavors
Some flavors coffee might have include cinnamon, clove, woody, orange,
chocolate, nutty, and so on. They can be light, heavy, dark, tart, sharp.