The most important measure of coffee quality is flavour. For that reason, coffees are assessed for taste at every stage of their journey, most importantly when the coffee is graded in the country of origin and when it is sold in the importing country.
The main aim in cup tasting or “cupping” is to evaluate the coffee objectively and to create a flavour profile based on an established terminology. The basic attributes evaluated are: aroma, flavour, body and acidity.
There are generally three stages in the cupping experience: Smelling the grinds, smelling the brewed coffee from those grinds, and tasting the brewed coffee using spoons. In some instances, you may be provided with a form to record impressions; a dialogue should be open to discuss the samples.
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To taste the coffee, the cupper “slurps” a spoonful with a quick inhalation. The objective is to spray the coffee evenly over the cupper’s taste buds, and then weigh it before spitting it out. Samples from a variety of batches and different beans are tasted daily. Coffees are not only analyzed this way for their inherent characteristics and flaws, but also for the purpose of blending different beans or determining the proper roast. An expert cupper can taste hundreds of samples of coffee a day and still taste the subtle differences between them.
The experience can be frustrating. Some attendees may cite that a sample evokes “floral, jasmine, and blueberry” while you may be thinking “it smells like hot coffee.” But that’s ok, you have to be patient, practice makes the master, right?.
Have a look to this consumer oriented vocabulary for coffee tasting.
Enjoy also this short vid about how coffee is made!
Do you want to learn more about coffee? While staying at Excellence Resorts, check your Excellence Times newspaper for our Coffee Tasting schedule.