Cupping coffee is the best way to evaluate coffee—from evaluating green coffee to making purchase decisions as a roaster to evaluating coffee you are brewing at home. I collaborated with coffee expert and author, Scott Rao, to create a guide documenting how to cup coffee that is free to download.
Download the free “How to Cup Coffee” guide
How to Cup Coffee
- 6-7 120-200mL cups or glasses
- 1 kettle for hot water
- 1 burr grinder
- 1 Digital scale with 0.1g resolution
- 1 timer
- 1 notebook or paper to take notes
- 2 spoons ideally with a deep bowl
- 60-70 grams coffee beans divided into 10g portions
- Boil water: Boil water of good quality for coffee brewing.
- Prep bowls: Choose a set of bowls of 120ml- 200ml capacity.
- Grind coffee: Grind medium-fine, usually just a bit finer than for pour over.
- Add coffee: Add 10g of coffee to each bowl. Begin timer.
- Add water: Add 170g of water into cup; water should be 30-60s off boil.
- Break crust: At 4:00, break crust with back of spoon & take notes on aroma.
- Clean surface: Clean the sludge from the coffee surfaces using two spoons.
- Taste coffee: At 12:00, begin tasting the coffees, take notes & compare. Go in order slurping the coffee forcefully into your mouth so it coats your palate.
- Repeat: Taste each sample a few times as it cools. Always take notes.
- Compare: Compare notes with your cupping partners.
- Use neutral-tasting water ideally with alkalinity of 25-50 ppm.
- Shuffle the cups label the bottoms of the cups and shuffle them around before pouring the water, so that you can cup “blindly” to avoid bias.
- Stick to 6-7 coffees per cupping. Cupping more than 6-7 samples at a time can lead to “palate fatigue.” It’s better to cup in multiple flights than to attempt to cup 10-20 samples at a time.
- Don’t sweat water weight. It’s ok for the water weight to be over/under by a few grams; it’s more important that the coffee weight is precise.
- Purge the grinder. Purge the grinder with ~5 beans before grinding a new coffee, to replace retained grounds & avoid contamination with grounds from previous samples.
- Share & Listen. It’s important to both share your impressions as well as listen to those of others; there are no right answers.