coffee cupping

Coffee Cupping 101: A Few Tips For Newbies

What is Coffee Cupping?

Coffee Cupping is nothing but a fancy word used for Coffee tasting. Coffee cupping is a process where different attributes of coffee beans are evaluated when their grounds are brewed. To execute this, you don’t have to be a coffee aficionado even novices can do it just for fun or gaining knowledge.

Coffee Cupping


Try to cup coffee beans coming from various regions of the world. That’s because you will certainly discover unique flavors of coffee beans, each boasting its characteristic of the region it’s made in.

Want to know the best part?

There is no specific right or wrong method of doing this. You just have to detect several flavors/aromas and note it down. As simple as that! Why do people do it? How do to it? What exactly are we looking for? This article elucidates Coffee Cupping 101: Few Tips for Newbies, so they can identify varying tastes of distinctly brewed coffee. With Coffee Cupping, you will learn to appreciate the richness and various flavors that every coffee has to offer in its most basic form.


First things first, coffee cupping is carried out without adding any milk or sweeteners in the brewed coffee. This way, the real flavors, aromas, bitterness, sweetness and other key factors can be assessed better.

Preparations for Coffee Cupping:

For those of you who are new to the concept of Coffee Cupping, take heed that the whole process is very easy.

preparations of coffee cupping

Some useful tips:

  • Always use freshly roasted coffee beans. Check the roasted date on the packaging.
  • If possible, avoid already ground coffee. That’s because ground coffee is more prone to stalling. Grind your own coffee with a coarse texture.
  • Light or medium roasted coffee beans are better because you can easily assess their flavors or deficiencies, unlike the overpowering taste of dark roast.
  • All of the sample coffee beans must be roasted in a similar manner. You can use labels for each sample for easy recognition.

Fragrance of Dry Grounds

Sniff the coffee beans and note down your estimation. Check whether it smells fresh or stale, sweet or spicy, under-roasted or over-roasted.

coffee beans

Take about 2 full tablespoons of coarsely ground coffee in a cup. Add boiled water (boiled up to 95°C) into it and let it steep for 4 minutes. Use good-quality, clean and clear water. Prepare 5 to 6 cups, each using a different variety of coffee beans.

The actual process of Coffee Cupping:

  • Sniff: After 4 minutes, you will see that a crust is formed in the top layer of the coffee cup. Place your nose close to the cup and break this crust. As soon as it breaks, puffs of aromas will be released. Sniff it thoroughly and note down what all aromas you can smell. Once done, remove as much coffee grounds from it as you can, with the help of spoons.
  • Drinking: Allow the coffee to cool down a bit. Take a heaped spoon of brewed coffee and drink it in such a way that your full tongue must be filled with the coffee, up until the back of your mouth. Now, whatever flavors you taste or cup, write it all down comprehensively.  For more professional approach, you can even refer to flavor wheel chart.
  • Spit (Optional): If there are too many coffee beans samples to try out, you can spit the coffee once you’ve rolled it completely in your mouth. This way, you will not be that affected with the caffeine content and still can evaluate different coffee beans well. Often, people who don’t spit out coffee, end up acting little funny due to the overconsumption of caffeine.

What to note down while Coffee Cupping? – Guide for Novices

Basic factors that you might want to detect while Coffee Cupping are as follows:


If you feel like coffee gives a sense of dryness at the back of your mouth, then that’s acidity for you. It is certainly not something negative, in fact many coffee lovers find it exceptionally desirable. Often acidity is confused with sourness, which is a completely different phenomenon.

acidity and coffee

Acidity is what gives a punch of liveliness, sharpness and classic taste to your coffee, which otherwise would taste flat or sweet. Acidity can be minimal or too intense. It has the ability to bring out distinctive flavors from the coffee such as floral or fruity. Too much acidity will make your coffee tangy. Acidity can be measured into following references like mild, rough, tangy, sour, neutral or delicate.


Flavor is something that is evaluated considering overall characteristics of a coffee. It can be anywhere from rich, well-balanced (no overpowering flavors), complex (mixed flavors) or dull. There can be myriads of flavors one can detect in a coffee such as chocolaty, caramelized, fruity, buttery, honey, spicy, nutty, etc.

flavor wheel


Aroma gives so many different assets to a coffee. Without Aroma, we wouldn’t experience the uniqueness that every coffee beans offer. Brewed coffee releases aromas when the coffee grounds are wholly infused into water. They can be identified as creamy, fresh, sharp or smooth, spicy or sweet.


Body refers to the ‘mouth-feel’ that a coffee delivers. In simple terms, it is the extent of heaviness that a coffee puts forth in your mouth.  It can be a little challenging for beginners to detect ‘Body’ factor while coffee cupping. But with practice and understanding, you will master this art as well. Body can be either full or thin, fat or rich and even watery.


A well-balanced cup of coffee will boost punch of acidity as well as sweetness.  A Proper amount of sweetness is what makes the coffee more refreshing and energetic.


Once you swallow the coffee, the lingering taste that remains in your mouth also counts as an evaluation factor. An ideal aftertaste is something that is refreshing, sweet and clean. Coffee that ensures its flavors in your mouth for about 15 to 20 seconds is certainly rich and powerful. Aftertaste can be range anywhere from sour, bitter, sweet, burnt, smooth, silky, dry, etc.

Make sure to rinse the spoon with hot water before moving on to taste the next sample.

Final Words:

Decisively, this is the most simple and straightforward method of Coffee Cupping for novices. Cupping is a fun and creative experiment that coffee lovers can perform to celebrate different zests and diversities of coffee. One can always customize their method by experimenting with different brewing methods while cupping, there are no specific hard and fast rules.

Cupping events

Don’t expect that on your first go you will be able to detect all the flavors adeptly. Mastering the cupping process demands time and dedication. For better knowledge and insights, you can attend cupping events hosted in your region or spend some time with local cupping experts for guidance. Practice is the only key here.

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