Cupping Coffee is fun but it's also an excellent way to judge a coffee, its Terroir and its characteristics before committing to a 132 or 154 lb bag of green. Another technique is to actually sit down and sample by sniffing green coffee with your roaster before you commit to buying a lb or so. Green Coffee bean is something most people are not used to seeing. When I often show customers what the coffee seed looks like and even though we call it bean, its really seed, they have interesting reactions. Some people think its weird or strange to see coffee bean in its green form but again most people are not used to seeing things in their "naked" form.
The green coffee bean has a very earthy smell to it and if you get used to smelling the different characteristics, you can come to understand that coffee, like wine, most definitely has Terroir, thus giving us a clue to its geographical growing characteristics.
Tonight, while celebrating my business partners birthday, I asked the group to break out the green coffee bean and start smelling. Present in the group was a wine expert who is used to "nosing" his way around different wines. We played a game of who liked what and what really stood out. Every nose had a different response to the bean's terroir and everyone smelled something unique.
When cupping coffee, it is important to grind the roasted bean to the appropriate grind for cupping which would be course. I always like to smell the coffee before adding hot water in the glass its sitting in and sniff it, just like what we did with the green bean.
Then, add boiling water and allow the coffee to develop crema which is indicated by the crust on top of the coffee. It often has a deep creamy look and freshly roasted coffee from fresh green beans will develop a healthy crust on top. This is often referred to as bloom.
After a few minutes, take a spoon and remove any grounds that may interfere with sampling the coffee. Cupping requires that we very quickly sip the coffee in a way that if done wrong can cause you to aspirate the liquid into your lung, so it is often something you want to practice. If you are interested in being guided in a coffee cupping, contact me and I will arrange a get together to cup different coffee's.
When you cup several coffee's you will want to take notes as well. Each coffee has different characteristics. You will soon be able to tell many different things..if the coffee is faulty or has defects or is fermenting, it will all be sensed in the cupping.
Coffee education is an amazing journey and I recommend that if you are interested in learning more about coffee, its history and how it has influenced human culture for thousands of years, then get yourself a copy of Coffee Talk by Mortin Satin. You won't be able to put the book down once you start reading and you will come to appreciate all of the aspects of coffee, how it is grown, picked, processed, and shipped, cupped, tasted, and sold. Coffee, it's just not for breakfast anymore!