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Master the Art of Cupping Coffee: Taste Like a Pro with Our Guide!

Have you ever wondered how coffee experts know exactly what makes a good cup of coffee? Well, they use something called coffee cupping, or coffee tasting! It’s a method used to evaluate the quality of beans, roast levels, grind sizes, and brewing methods that produces the perfect cup of coffee. In this blog post, we will explain the coffee cupping scoring system and discuss how to become an expert in coffee cupping. 

Coffee cupping, or cup tasting, is an important and widely used technique for evaluating coffee. It is the process of smelling and tasting brewed coffee to identify its flavor notes and characteristics.

Let’s take a closer look at why people might cup coffee and some different types of cupping sessions that can be conducted. This guide provides an introduction to coffee cupping, including the required equipment and step-by-step instructions on how to cup coffee.

What is Coffee Cupping?

Coffee cupping is a professional way of tasting and evaluating the flavor profile of different types of coffees in order to understand which ones are better than others.

During this process, cuppers will assess the aroma, acidity, sweetness, body (mouthfeel), and aftertaste of the brewed coffee samples in order to determine which one tastes best according to their own preferences.

This method helps them identify qualities they like in particular coffees so they can produce high-quality cups consistently over time without having to guess each time they brew a batch!

This process allows for assessing the quality of a particular type of coffee, as well as identifying any potential defects in the beans. It also provides insight into how different factors such as weather, altitude, soil, and cultivar can affect the flavor notes in coffee.

Embark on a journey of flavors with our Your Green Coffee Quality Control Guide. Explore cupping techniques and taste the difference. Dive deeper here: Your Green Coffee Quality Control Guide.

Reasons to Cup Coffee

Coffee cupping is an essential skill for coffee professionals, who use this process to assess the quality of different coffees. But, it’s also a great way to learn more about different coffees and hone your tasting skills.

There are several reasons why people may choose to cup coffee. such as checking quality or increasing knowledge about different types

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A. checking quality

The most common reason is to check the quality of the beans. By objectively evaluating the aroma and taste of a given sample, it is possible to determine if there are any defects in the beans that could potentially impact their flavor profile when brewed.

B. increasing knowledge

Another reason to cup coffee is to increase knowledge about different types of coffee from around the world. By comparing two or more samples side by side, one can identify subtle differences between them that would otherwise go unnoticed with brewed coffee alone.

C. identify differences

Cupping can help identify differences between different lots or batches of a particular type of bean for consistency purposes—allowing for comparison over time.

Types of Cupping Sessions

Depending on what you want to achieve with your cupping session, there are several different ways you can go about it.

A. blind cuppings

For example, some cuppers like to use a “blind” cupping method where they do not know which sample they are tasting until after they have finished evaluating it. This helps eliminate biases or preconceived notions about particular coffees before actually tasting them.

B. comparison cuppings

One could conduct comparison cuppings between two or more varieties; this allows for identifying differences between them such as acidity levels, sweetness levels, etc. All while controlling other variables such as water temperature, grind size, etc.

C. dial-in cuppings

“Dial-In” cuppings where they purposely adjust variables such as water temperature while evaluating each sample in order to observe how said variable affects its flavor profile when brewed.

Required Equipment for Coffee Cupping

To cup coffee, all you need is some freshly ground coffee, hot water (heated to around 200°F), a spoon, and some cups or glasses that have been preheated with hot water. You can also use a timer and some paper and pencils to take notes during the cupping session.

As you take notes on aroma, body, acidity, and more, remember that your coffee’s journey began at the birthplaces of coffee beans. Origins of coffee beans revealed – explore the fascinating landscapes where your favorite beans come from.

Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Cup Coffee

  1. The first step in cupping is adding 2 tablespoons of freshly ground coffee per cup of water into each glass or cup.
  2. Once all the cups are filled with grounds and hot water, wait 4 minutes for the grounds to bloom.
  3. Stirring each cup for 5 seconds with a spoon.
  4. Let them sit for another 4 minutes.
  5. Remove any floating grounds from the surface of the liquid.
  6. Then wait another 8 minutes before breaking what is called “the crust”. This just means skimming off any foam that has risen on top of the liquid during the cupping process.
  7. Smell each cup and slurp up small spoonfuls of liquid so that you can taste it fully.

Properly done cupping sessions can help you gain valuable insight into what makes certain coffees special while also helping you better understand why certain brewing methods work best with certain types of beans.

Guidelines for Tasting and Taking Notes During a Cupping Session

When tasting during a cupping session, try to identify as many flavors as possible in each cup by taking small sips at first followed by larger sips if needed.

With practice, patience, and a little bit of knowledge about how different characteristics affect flavor, your home barista skills will improve dramatically!

Make sure you note things like:


Body (how thick/thin it feels in your mouth).

Acidity (how tart/sweet it tastes).

Flavor notes (like chocolatey or nutty).

Aftertaste (what flavors linger after drinking).

Overall impression (would you buy this?).

Also, note any defects like mustiness or uncleanliness in scent or taste as well as bitterness or sourness in the aftertaste.

Different Types of Coffee That Can Be Cupped

Several types of coffees can be cupped for comparison purposes including Arabica vs Robusta beans; light roast, medium roast, dark roast; beans from different growing regions around the world; single origin, blend, decaffeinated coffees; specialty/organic coffees; etc.

Keep in mind that while these factors will contribute to taste differences between coffees they should still be assessed on their own merits apart from factors like roast level or regionality which are less indicative of quality than other aspects such as sweetness and complexity of flavor profiles created by unique combinations of aromas and acids present in each type of bean when brewed correctly.

The Scoring System for Coffee Cupping

The scoring system used for coffee cupping consists of five elements: cleanness, sweetness, acidity, mouthfeel, and aftertaste.

Cleanness: involves looking at clarity as well as any defects that can be detected by sight alone. Sweetness: looks at how sweet the beverage is on the tongue.

Acidity: measures how much acidity is present.

Mouthfeel: considers both thickness and texture.

Aftertaste: covers perceived flavors that linger after drinking has been completed.

Each element is graded on a scale from 1-10 (1 being poor/undetectable and 10 being excellent/highly detectable). It takes experience to be able to accurately assess each attribute correctly but with practice, it can be mastered!

Becoming an Expert in Coffee Cupping

Through exploration and experimentation with various beans/combinations, anyone can learn how to become a professional taster by mastering the art of coffee cupping! With enough dedication, one can gain insight into which flavors work together best resulting in delicious cups every time – no guessing required!

A. Practice and Curiosity 

Becoming an expert in coffee cupping requires practice as well as a genuine interest in the process itself! People who love experimenting with different flavors and combinations often find themselves drawn towards becoming better cuppers because it gives them more control over their drinks without sacrificing quality or variety!

B. Patience and Listening Skills 

In addition to this passion for testing out new coffees, patience and good listening skills are also useful when learning how to become a professional taster because it allows one to really take their time analyzing each individual cup while paying attention to subtle nuances between various beans or brew styles.


  • Betty Pritchard

    From Madison, Wisconsin, Betty is a coffee aficionado turned writer. A UC Davis graduate in Sensory Analysis with a Food Science certification, she’s a Good Food Award recipient. Hosting a podcast and crafting coffee art, her journey spans from college vending to elite cafés. A pour-over devotee, Betty’s expertise and passion make her essential to Coffeescan’s team.

  • Donald Anderer

    Denver-born Donald blends mountain vibes with coffee artistry. A Rhode Island School of Design alum, he paints with coffee and captures its essence with certified food photography skills. Favored brew? The intense Ristretto. Coffeescan’s artistic soul.

  • Fikru Assefa

    Born in Sidamo, Ethiopia, Fikru combines a Harvard History degree with certifications in Coffee Culture. Adept in traditional Ethiopian coffee ceremonies and a lover of Drip Coffee, his expertise offers readers a deep dive into coffee’s rich tapestry. Join him on a caffeinated journey at Coffeescan.com.

  • Ronald Naughton

    From San Diego, Ronald is the Senior Coffee Editor at Coffeescan.com. His journey began in a city café, leading to a Coffee Science degree from UC Davis and a professional brewing certification. Recognized by the Food Bloggers Awards, he claims to identify a bean’s altitude by taste. Affogato enthusiast and coffee connoisseur, Ronald ensures Coffeescan’s content is rich and precise.