Cupping for the Uninitiated

One Tuesday after work Josh and I were lucky enough to attend Bean & Bud’s first cupping session. Here’s a little peek at what we discovered. Maybe you could use the following steps as a guide for holding your own cupping session at home!

After saying our hellos and dividing into little groups we investigated the 5 coffees that were laid out on our table. Lined up in 8oz glass tumblers we found coffee from Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Kenya and Ethiopia. First things first, we gave them all a good sniff to see what they smelt like dry, shortly after being ground. This is handy to compare how the flavour and smell change later when the hot water is added, and our first impressions were formed. We could also have a look at the colour and the grind.

5 types of coffee from across the world packed in bags

The range of coffees to try from speciality coffee importer Falcon Coffee based in Pannal, Harrogate.

Holly from Falcon Speciality explained in more detail about each coffee including how each had been produced ad their origins. We carefully poured on the just-below-boiling water, letting it soak into the ground coffee before pouring the rest of the water. After 4 minutes it was time for more sniffing! With noses poised over the cups, we scooped up from the bottom of the glass through the coffee with a special cupping spoon (this ensures all the aromas are released and directed up into your nose!) We scooped 3 times with each coffee to make sure we got a proper whiff and could note how the aroma had changed after adding the water.

Two glasses containing coffee brewing prior to a cupping session.

Coffee brewing before we scooped the grinds

Before we could get down to actually tasting the coffees we had to scoop off the grounds that rise to the top. To do this you take two spoons and draw them through the surface of the brew, round the edges to meet at the other side. This soggy clump of grounds can then go in the bin so you don’t end up tasting all the grainy bits!

Young man perched over a coffee cupping spoon

Josh ready to hoover

The next bit was fun… In order to be able to taste the maximum flavour from the coffee, you are meant to take in a stream of air at the same time and make sure it sloshes all around your mouth to hit the different taste buds. The best way to do this is to suck the coffee up from the spoon suddenly. So, for the next 15 minutes, the room was filled with the sound of people violently hoovering up tiny spoonfuls of coffee, which was quite surreal! It was good though to help you concentrate on tasting all the different flavours – we all noticed big differences between the different blends.

Gentleman cupping coffee

Tim from new Harrogate Espresso bar Hoxton North

If you want to you can spit out the coffee once you’ve tasted it…however I couldn’t resist just drinking it all!

The coffees we tried were:
Mexico Finca Muxbal – light and citrusy tasting.
Brazil Fazenda Pantano – this one had hints of chocolate.
Colombia Hulla Villa Esperanza – we noticed orange and grapefruit flavours.
Kenya Kiawamaruru AB – this one tasted really strongly of blackcurrants!
Ethiopia Hunda Oil – I found this one tasted a bit like Assam tea.

My favourite was the Ethiopia…yum.

Thanks to Bean & Bud and Falcon Coffee for having us!

The words and images were provided by Olivia Heron and she retains copyright.

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  1. Pingback: 2014 Rwanda cup of Excellence - Baltzersen's Roast & Coffee Research - Baltzersens

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