When I was a kid, one of my favourite books was the book called “Bad Advices”, basically a reverse psychology for kids :), where the author was giving ideas of how to do the craziest things that will annoy your parents the most – for example, to throw away your breakfast from the window, or to paint on the wallpapers, etc.
Beautiful book, by the way.
So what I am about. I had a post about cupping routine coming, the content was in my head for a while. After all, cupping is something that makes a huge part of the quality control, does not matter if you are a roaster, barista, or coffee shop owner, as well as it is an amazing tool for educating yourself, solo, as a coffee professional.
Cupping as a weekly (and sometimes even daily, in the best places) procedure – is something simply necessary for the coffee shop to be considered “Specialty”. There is no other tool that will teach you so much about the coffee you are serving and selling, will make baristas more motivated and closer to the customer, than cupping.
So here is the list of my personal, proved by my experience tips of how to cup, but learn nothing from it:
- Don’t weight the water you put in the cups
That’s a good one. You are very careful with the ratio while brewing a pour over, to not to pour extra grams of water, or to be sure you are in the acceptable range (and I am not even mentioning espresso – 43 grams and 35 grams are two different drinks!) – but of course, with cupping everything is cool, and it is just fine to be checking visually that you are putting enough water.
2. Don’t cup blind
Open cupping is the best! Always try to make the most of the information about the coffee visible while cupping, so you can easily figure out the origins and the flavour notes, and evaluate higher the roasters and the origins you have preference for. Make sure you put the beans for the observation as well. In case they have any visual defect, you’ll be able to find it in taste as well, without much trouble.
3. Cup in a group of people, and share your opinions right away
Cup preferably in a group of people, better if they will be “coffee geeks”. Discussing what you are experiencing and what you think during cupping will make you feel that you are all at the same page, and feel the same away about the coffees. You will finally start finding that almond, tropical fruits and sugarcane sweetness – when you hear that your partner feels it.
4. Don’t take notes
Rely totally on your memory, especially when it comes to the materias like flavour description. Of course you will remember exactly how the coffees that you cupped thoughout the month tasted, and you can always come back in your memory to each coffee and verify it. Instead of taking notes, just relax your mind, and slurp, appreciating the moment.
5. Avoid to use any numbers while evaluating the parameters
It is lots of work – to try to formulate quantitatively why this acidity is 7.5, and that body is 6.25. And after all, who really cares? Nobody is checking your notes, after all, and we are not in school anymore. It is pretty enough to point out that this coffee has “nice body”, “satisfying acidity” – and proceed.
6. If you are a roaster (coffee shop owner, barista, etc) – cup only your coffees, never from the competitors
Why should you bother? You are better than everybody else.
7. Don’t flush your grinder in between while grinding for cupping
No reason to do it, because, of course, there is no risk of contamination or grind retention. You can guarantee that in that 10 grams of washed ethiopia that you are going to cup all 10 grams are ethiopian.
8. Don’t set any goals fo cupping
Enter the cupping with no clear goal in your head, and go through it calmly, appeciating the coffees you taste one after another, the beauty and complexity of them, knowing that in an hour you will forget everything, and you will be ready to taste more tomorrow!