Have you ever cupped coffee? It’s as complicated as pro-style wine-tasting. As with wine, the coffee is assessed and sipped in a series of steps designed to deliver a complete technical picture of the beverage. Coffee industry pros use it to score the quality of coffee on a 100-point scale. They are looking for specific aspects in the aroma, acidity, flavor and body.
But, as Erin recently learned in Brazil, trying the process can enrich the experience of enjoying a morning cup on a regular Monday too, once you know what you’re looking for. She found the process of tasting and analyzing the results of this year’s harvest extremely illuminating, and she learned so much about this crucial step in developing premium specialty coffee.
Here’s the deal:
Cupping coffee entails three stages of smelling before you even get to sip. The cup typically used has no handles. Ground coffee is put in, and you analyze the fragrance. Then, you pour in filtered water heated to about 200 degrees, and after four minutes, smell again. Then, you gently stir the grounds and smell again.
As with wine, each time the coffee is disrupted or stirred, the aroma changes and evolves subtly. First you may get roses, then dark chocolate, pecans, cranberries, perhaps smoke, bacon.
Then, you push aside the grinds and take a sip of the brewed coffee, slurping it sharply (spit if you like after). Check the levels of acidity, the body, the finish. Some will be rich, others bright, some thick, others feathery. Some linger, others depart. Like wine, some of the assessments are highly objective, but there will always be a certain level of subjectivity: in the end, what’s most important is that you find something you personally adore.
Or … forget the cupping and enjoy a cuppa. Watch the full reel for Erin’s recent tutorial in Brazil. (And the compulsory kid-farm-animal shot at the end).
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