Tasting the Coffee
The tasting of coffee is referred to as "cupping." Cupping coffee is a process by which coffee brew is slurped by an expert for the purpose of evaluating the brew and determining characteristics. The tasting of coffee is a rigorous and disciplined process. The taster first assesses the green beans for appearance.
The green beans are then roasted in a small laboratory roaster and tested for flavor and aroma. After the coffee has been infused in water, the taster "noses" the brew. After three minutes, the brew is lightly stirred and smelled again. The resulting foam is removed and the tasting begins.
The cupper takes a spoonful of coffee into his/her mouth and "chews" it around before spitting it out. The procedure is repeated with all of the samples, and notes are made as each brew is sampled.
Following is an example of 10 criteria that may be used to describe and categorize coffee:
- Type -- robusta, washed, arabica
- Taste -- Strictly soft, harsh
- Body -- lacking, too heavy
- Acidity -- some, too much at the top
- Age -- old to fresh
- Defects -- sour, grassy, musty
- Cup -- roast, watery, burned, old
- Overall assessment -- neutral, spicy, hard
- Aroma -- weak to strong
- Fullness -- slight to considerable