Learning to Cup and Evaluate

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I am a big advocate of cupping within a group. Nothing improves cupping and evaluation skills like building on one another’s abilities and palates. Find 2-3 others and get started.

Good beginning point? Roast a bean to three different depth levels. Prepare them with the same methodology. I use a Hario/KONE pourover set-up. 60 grams of coffee to 1 quart of finished coffee.

A cupping group of about 8 gents from around Minnesota meets in my home monthly. For our July gathering, I roasted a Bolivian to three clearly different levels: 2.0 minutes after 1st crack, 2.5 minutes after first, and 3.0 minutes after first.

Why a Bolivian? Nicely balanced, clean, round, sweet cup without a ton of fruits flying at you. It is ideal for this exercise. Results?

  • 2:00 minutes after 1st crack: Bit underdeveloped, chocolate note, medium light cup, high acidity. Good cup but needed some “oomph” to enhance the cup.
  • 2:30: Chocolate note was deeper, fuller. Acidity was perfect; cup supportive without interfering. Medium cup that had a note of Hershey’s syrup; in taste, texture and weight.
  • 3:00: Chocolate note began to wane. Roast dominant. Surprisingly, the syrupy note was gone, almost became ashy. Clearly, this green wouldn’t work in espresso at this level.

Feedback from those who cupped:

  • Dramatic learning. Hard to believe the differences in the cup.
  • Demonstrated how cupping notes on line can differ from your roasts. Doesn’t mean cupping notes were wrong – – merely different profiling results in different notes.
  • Showed that roasting to various levels is important for determining the best roast depth. Want to get the best out of a bean? Try different roast levels.

So what are you waiting for? Gather a group and get on the bean!

Roast on, Dave

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