If you are like me, you may have wondered why you witnessed a group of people standing around a table, obnoxiously slurping coffee and exchanging notes. In some cases, a few group high fives may have been exchanged even. These people are most likely coffee professionals and/or aficionados that are cupping coffee to determine the coffee quality
Coffee quality can be broken down into four main categories; aroma, acidity, sweetness and body. These four characteristics are what your brain uses to determine taste.
Aroma is how you perceive the smell of the coffee. What fragrance does it exhibit? Does the coffee smell nutty, earthy, fruity, smokey?
Acidity is referring to the aftertaste of the coffee and how lively it is. Generally it is considered sharp and pleasing. Acidity is not the sour sensation like most people assume. Acidity is a highly desirable trait, ranging from dull to lively. Acidity is important or else your morning cup of coffee will taste flat.
The sweetness category is how sweet the coffee tastes. There is nothing unique about this category, but it is a major quality when comparing roasts.
Body is similar to the texture and how the coffee feels in your mouth. Does it feel light like water in your mouth? Or is it thicker like cream? The body can be determined by allowing the coffee to rest on the top of your tongue, rubbing it against the palate.
Cupping Coffee Like A Pro
THE SECRET TO KNOWING AND DETERMINING COFFEE QUALITY LIKE A PRO IS THROUGH COMPARISON.
How To Cup Coffee
The easiest way to determine coffee quality, aside from tasting it, is through comparison. Gather up some friends, prepare some different types of coffee, and get your notebook ready to take notes!
Smell the Aromas
The majority of our flavor perception is related to smell. This is why coffee roasters smell the coffee before tasting. This can be achieved by cupping your hands over the cup, trapping the aromas and inhaling it. Does it smell chocolaty, fruity, flowery?
Make sure you write down your observations. Not only will you forget the specifics if you are comparing a few, but it'll make it easier to compare with friends.
Sip and Slurp
Forget about your table manners. Slurping coffee ensures that the coffee covers your entire mouth, which allows the taste buds to perceive the coffee more accurately. Your taste experience will be different when compared to others tasting the exact same cup of coffee. That is why the note taking is crucial!
What is similar between your notes? Just because the majority of your friends tasted something different, does not mean that you were wrong. It is possible that you may perceive tastes differently. Our coffee has been through countless hours of cupping and note-taking sessions.
Tip: Taste and flavor are not synonymous, they are very different from each other. Taste is solely the chemical senses processed by your taste buds. Flavor is a combination of numerous faculties. The brain interprets all of the factors previously mentioned, bundling them together in what we know as flavor.
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