Coffee is the only beverage that is not evaluated in the same way that it is drunk. Wine connoisseurs pour wine into a wine glass, smell it, swirl it, slurp it and drink it (or spit it out). Beer and liquor evaluators do the same. But not coffee. Coffee has its own special protocol that is used all over the world.
Coffee evaluation is called “cupping.” You can cup coffee just like the pros. You will need some beans, a scale, a grinder, a 10 ounce custard cup, a source of 200 F spring water, a four minute timer. and a cream soup spoon (Yes, this a real spoon but any wide spoon will work).
You start with medium grinding 15.7 grams of coffee beans and putting them into the custard cup. You then bring the cup to your nose and inhale the aroma of the dry grounds to detect any one of 200 possible aromas. You won’t get it on the first try but you will after you do it a few times.
You then slowly fill the custard cup to the top with 200 degree water, so that all of the grounds get wet.
Turn on the timer. Wait four minutes and then using your spoon break a hole in the floating grounds. Again smell the wet aroma of the coffee. You can now give up to 10 points to the beans for the combination of dry and wet aroma. (Typical scores for quality specialty coffee are 8 to 10 in quarter point increments. 10’s are unusual, 7’s are a disaster)
Now scoop up the floating grounds with your spoon and discard them. Over the next 10 minutes as the coffee cools, scoop up a small amount in your spoon and aggressively slurp it into your mouth. The idea is to atomize the coffee so that it spreads all over the inside of your mouth. (that small voice you hear is your mother saying don’t slurp – ignore her) You can swallow the coffee or spit it out. After the coffee has cooled to close to room temperature you can award 10 points each for flavor, sweetness (lack of bitterness), body and acidity.
After you have finished you will have an aftertaste in your mouth.You can award up to 10 points for aftertaste.
Now total your scores and add 40 points. This is your cupping score and you can compare it to cupping scores from professional cupping reports like Coffee Review
(Coffee geeks will complain because we left out some things like using 5 cups. You aren’t getting paid to do this. Have Fun!)