Cupping Coffee at Home
At our Beverly Hills, CA 90212 café, Aharon Vaknin encourages all of his customers who purchase our coffee beans to “cup” their coffee at home using the pour over method or French press method.
Even though professional coffee cupping is more rigorous, detailed and time-consuming than wine tasting, coffee can and should also be evaluated, or ‘cupped’ by you and me and everyone who buys good quality coffee beans and would like to appreciate them beyond the ‘aaahhhh’ moment of waking up with that first heavenly sip.
Before you cup your coffee, do not wear any lotions, colognes or perfumes that may distract your senses. Have a notepad handy and take notes of aroma, taste, mouthfeel and aftertaste. Use the SCAA Coffee Cupping Flavor Wheel for reference.
Use good water at the right temp (SCAA standard is 200 degrees), make sure the beans are ground properly, and brew your cup. We love our OXO Gooseneck kettle to keep the pour even and the water at the right temp!
Start by sniffing and smelling the coffee aroma. Aroma correlates to experience of taste and flavor profile. Do you smell toasted almonds? An herbal earthiness? If you have brewed our Ethiopia Dry Natural beans, I can guarantee you will smell strawberries or papaya!
Next, slurp. You don’t need a spoon, but you don’t want to burn your tongue with your first slurp, so be sure the coffee has cooled a bit!
The idea behind the slurp is to taste the coffee across the whole mouth, and also to continue to evaluate the aroma. A proper tasting technique will ensure aromatic runoff, or - something Willem Boot, founder of Boot Coffee Campus describes as a “retro-nasal tasting technique.”
What do you taste, smell and detect? A hint of baker’s chocolate or milk chocolate? An aftertaste of lemon rind? (Good coffee can often have a bright lemony hint. This is considered “bright” but should not taste sour.) Or does your coffee have a clean aftertaste?
Cup Like a Pro
- Plan to cup your coffee in three to five 5oz cups for each coffee you cup, to ensure uniformity
- Weigh coffee beans - SCAA CUPPING RATIO: 8.25g of coffee to 150 mL of water
- Purge your burr grinder with a small amount of coffee, then grind beans with a texture slightly coarser than for drip
- Pour grinds into & evaluate aroma of (dry) ground coffee in cups
- Pour SCAA Standard water (heated to 200F) in each of the cups as you start a timer. Make each cup has the same amount of water.
- After 4 minutes, break the crust with your spoon, push crust aside & evaluate aroma. Repeat for a total of three times for each coffee.
- You may use two spoons to skim off the grounds, foam, and oils.
- After another 4 minutes, fill your spoon with the liquid, slurp the coffee, and aspirate over your tongue to taste. Spit into cup, dip spoon into clean drinking water. Repeat this step 2 more times, with 4-5 interval between each time.
Because of the way we roast our coffee, there is one flavor note Aharon Coffee will NEVER have: the taste of charcoal. Charcoal flavor almost always can be detected in dark roasted coffee, and it is one of the reason Aharon advises coffee drinkers to steer clear of dark roasted coffee.
The slurp will also inform you as to the coffee’s mouthfeel, or texture. Is the coffee bold and rich? Smooth, with a medium mouthfeel? Or is it light-bodied? Does the coffee have a balanced, harmonious play of flavors?
The wonderful thing about cupping at home is that it can give you a great appreciate for the coffee you have invested in. We believe coffee should do more than just make you feel great – it should also bring you great joy and fun.
Cupping coffee with our staff, pre-pandemic