Coffee Cupping

Cupping is the industry standard to evaluate flavor attributes like aroma/fragrance, acidity, sweetness, aftertaste, mouthfeel of a coffee. It is a universal standardized method that allows coffee buyers, roasters & baristas to quantify a coffees characteristics & communicate attributes in a universal language with others. For green coffee buying or maintaining consistency in roasted coffee flavor profile, cupping is one of the most important processes.

At Third Wave Coffee Roasters we meticulously cup hundreds of green bean samples every year to curate select range of coffees that will be unique and delicious! We also cup every batch of coffee that is roasted to ensure that the same flavor profile is maintained for consistency.


Cupping Standards

Step 1 – Take in & evaluate the fragrance (dry smell) of the freshly ground coffee

Step 2 - Hot water is poured into the freshly roasted and ground coffee beans. We then wait for 4 minutes for the flavor attributes to emerge. After four minutes, the crust that forms on top of a cupping vessel which is collection of ground coffee is broken to take in & evaluate the aroma (wet smell). The wet grounds will produce more intense smell that is easier to decode. The crust is then removed in a different cup as waste.

Step 3 – Wait for 6 minutes after the crust is broken and then use your spoon to taste the coffee. Try to slurp the coffee to increase the flavor & aroma perception.

Sample the coffee as many times as you want to, analyzing & making notes on what you think about the different attributes the coffee displays!

Flavor attributes mainly depend on the altitude, soil condition, variety of the coffee plant, cultural practices and how coffees are processed.  

The main thing to remember is that consistency in YOUR cupping method remains, so that your “tool” to evaluate does not change. So if you use 12 grams of ground coffee, make sure you always use 12 grams. Same is true for amount of water, grind size and different times at which you follow different steps.

How to improve your cupping skills

The best way to improve is to keep cupping different coffees all the time! Also cupping with other people who are better cuppers always help you get a better perspective & improves your knowledge.

Going through the World Coffee Research Sensory Lexicon & the SCA’s Coffee Taster’s Flavor wheel can help too.

We at Third Wave truly believe that to become better at cupping the best way is to treat every meal or beverage as an opportunity to build your memory of various flavors, mouthfeel, acidity levels that exist in nature. This will help you build a sensory data room that you can keep going back to and relate attributes of a coffee while cupping.