What is Coffee Cupping?
Coffee cupping is a process that judges the taste, aroma and quality of coffee. Much more involved than just pouring a cup and coming up with an opinion after a few sips, the process is very involved, and similar to what you may find at a wine tasting.
While there are professional coffee cuppers out there, amateurs are welcome at many cupping events. It is a great experience that allows aficionados to taste different coffees side by side and gain a new appreciation for their unique flavor profiles.
Unlike wine tasting, coffee cupping doesn’t just evaluate the finished product. The ground beans are also judged. In a cupping event, the coffee is evaluated for the following three categories in a very strictly controlled setting. Points are given based on a scoring system. The higher the score, the higher quality the coffee.
#1. Fragrance and Aroma
Although these terms are normally interchangeable, in coffee cupping the “fragrance” is evaluated before pouring the hot water onto the ground coffee, and the “aroma” is evaluated after the coffee has been brewed and the crust broken.
#2. Flavor, Aftertaste, Acidity, Body, and Balance
The coffee is aspirated – meaning slurped – from a spoon into the mouth to cover as much area as possible, especially the tongue and upper palate. Aftertaste, acidity and body fit together in a synergistic combination.
#3. Sweetness, Uniformity, and Cleanliness
These attributes are tested more than once and then ranked as the coffee cools and a total score given. Scores over 80 are deemed acceptable for high quality.
How does Kona coffee measure up?
In case you’re wondering, Crema de Kona’s award-winning, high-quality Kona coffee tends to score very high at cupping events. It has been described as, “creamy, smooth, clean. Medium-bodied and balanced. Bright but not sharp, with a hint of chocolate.”