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How to Cup Coffee – Free Download

Andrew Pautler

How to cup coffee cheatsheet

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

Cupping coffee is the industry standard method to evaluate coffee. These steps walk through how to cup coffee like a pro.
Prep Time5 minutes
Active Time15 minutes
Course: Drinks
Keyword: coffee, cupping
Author: Scott Rao


  • 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.


Pro Tips:

  • 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.

Free Download

Download the free, printable coffee brew guide cheatsheet

  • Quick reference for ratios, water temp & brew times
  • 8 brew methods including chemex, V60, aeropress & more
  • Serving sizes and tips for each brew method
The Coffee Brew Guide Cheatsheet preview