Cupping – what do coffee people mean by this?
When we say ‘Cupping’ is the best practise used to evaluate coffees, we’re often looked at blankly. “Is that some type of coffee acupuncture?” and “isn’t Cupping simply putting coffee into cups and drinking it?” are the kind of looks we mean.
The thing is, although the practise of Cupping is not acupuncture, it is a little more complicated than simply putting coffee into cups and drinking it. There is a specific method used to prepare a Cupping and the skill of Cupping (tasting coffee) takes some time to master. If you compare it to wine, it would be like saying- pouring and drinking wine is relatively easy, but mastering the skill of tasting wine is much harder.
So, from now on when you hear coffee people say Cupping, you’ll know they are referring to the specific method used to prepare a Cupping and/or the skill required to taste coffee.
The importance of Cupping
Cupping is the universal practice that’s used to taste and evaluate coffees. Its purpose is to differentiate the subtle flavours found in coffee, score them, and create a common language. Without Cupping, or the common language associated with it, it would be very difficult for the specialty coffee industry to function, as people in the industry rely on Cupping to make vital business decisions (e.g., what coffee to buy, the fair price to pay, and its best use).
You’re probably thinking right about now is Cupping actually a language and how in the world does that work?’. Well, yes, it is a language. But, thankfully it’s a little simpler than learning Spanish. The way it works is that Cupping produces a Final Score and it’s this score that holds the universal value of each coffee- this is the language part. Basically, coffee people use the Final Score to determine all the finer details of each coffee. For instance, the Final Score determines the quality of coffee, which determines the price of coffee, which determines the use of coffee, and so on.
The Final Score is useful to ALL coffee people: growers, roasters, and brewers.
Mastering the skill of Cupping
Cupping is without a doubt the best way to train and refine your coffee palate. So, if you’re planning on bettering your skills: Cup, Cup, and Cup some more! At first, you’ll probably think all coffees taste the same, but in time, you’ll start to appreciate the subtle flavours found in coffee. And that’s when you know you’re starting to master the skill of Cupping.
Lastly, Cupping is fundamental to coffee talk, so if you want to better understand coffee jargon, it’s the best pathway. Through Cupping you will learn all about Origins, Regions, Altitudes, Climates, Varietals, Producers, Processing and so much more. Cupping allows you to not only appreciate the subtle flavours found in coffee, but also, the story behind its origin.