In the coffee industry, especially specialty, coffee quality assessment is fundamental to measuring the value and quality of coffee. There are two main components of the assessment, namely the defect score assessment and the coffee cupping score assessment.

One component of coffee quality assessment, the coffee cupping test, involves several important elements ranging from coffee fragrance to aftertaste .

This time we will further discuss the coffee cupping testing process, starting from the history of the coffee cupping process to how the procedure is carried out according to the SCA (Specialty Coffee Association).

Curious about this topic? Let’s take a look at the discussion below.

The beginning of the process cupping coffee

Coffee cupping assessment is a form of assessment that emphasizes the consistency of flavor characters produced from coffee beans. This grading process was actually not emphasized much in the early days of the coffee industry.

Before the 1890s, the majority of coffee quality checks were known to focus only on the shape and color of the beans. The application of the coffee cupping process is further developed in the coffee industry as evidenced by an article written by B.D. Balart entitled “Removing the Guess Work from Coffee Cupping“.

B.D. Balart is one of the key figures who introduced the coffee cupping assessment procedure (previously known as cup-testing). He discovered the concept of the importance of coffee cupping testing while working in the roastery industry in 1922.

At the beginning of its development, the coffee cupping assessment process has implemented Q-certification. Coffee cupping is conducted in a certified cupping lab by applying blind testing to avoid bias from the tester.

By 1999, the SCA had also begun to homogenize important elements in coffee cupping assessment such as cupping equipment, cupping procedures, and cupping assessment forms. This has been the main cornerstone of coffee cupping testing to date.

Read also: Types of Flavor Defects in Coffee Cupping Assessment

Test procedure cupping coffee according to SCA

Before conducting a coffee cupping assessment, there are several things that must be considered based on the SCA’s directions. The first thing is the test location. The coffee cupping test site should be clean (no distracting odors), quiet, without distractions, at room temperature, have a cupping table, and have sufficient room light.

The cupping stage is important in the coffee industry, coffee will be assessed for quality, hence the need for a mutually recognized scoring standard; SCAA CUPPING SCORESHEET.

Things that must be prepared before carrying out the testing process cupping coffee

In coffee cupping testing, it is also important to prepare equipment for roasting and grinding coffee beans such as sample roasters, tools for determining roasting results based on color (e.g. agtron), and grinders.

In addition, other equipment such as cupping spoons, pencils, clipboards, water heaters, scales, cupping forms, and cupping cups and lids also need to be prepared.

The cupping cups here should be the same size (207 to 266 milliliters with a top diameter ranging from 76 – 89 millimeters) and made of the same material, namely tempered glass or ceramic material.

Read also: Get to Know Roasting Levels for You Coffee Lovers

Process roasting coffee beans

Before the Q grader starts evaluating each flavor component of the coffee, the beans will be roasted for 8 – 12 minutes first.

Roasted coffee beans should not have scorching (charred and black patches on the flat part of the bean) or tipping (charred and black patches on the edges of the bean). After roasting, coffee beans can be stored in a dark, cool, and airtight place for 8 – 24 hours to avoid contamination.

Assessment cupping coffee

After going through the preparation stage to roasting the coffee beans, the coffee cupping test comes to the evaluation stage. The Q grader will evaluate one by one aspect of the coffee sample with scores ranging from 6 – 10 points on each aspect.

  • The testing process will begin by putting roasted coffee beans into each cup. Each sample consists of at least five cups with 8.25 grams of coffee beans in each cup.
  • The coffee beans will then be ground using a 20 mes grinder .
  • 15 minutes after the sample is ground, the Q grader will evaluate the fragrance of the coffee sample by smelling the aroma of the coffee powder.

Read also: Peel Through 3 Examples of Primary Defects in Coffee Beans [Part 1]

  • Each cup is then filled with 150 milliliters of water at 93 degrees Celsius. Here, the crust will be left to float for 3-5 minutes.
  • After standing for 3-5 minutes, the aroma assessment of the coffee will continue by stirring and smelling the aroma of the coffee solution.
  • The froth in the coffee solution will be removed using a cupping spoon.
  • When the coffee sample starts to cool down and is at 71 degrees Celsius, the Q grader will evaluate the flavor and aftertaste of the coffee sample.
  • As the coffee sample cools down further and is at 60 degrees Celsius, the Q grader will continue to evaluate the acidity, body and balance aspects of the coffee.

Read also: Thoroughly Review 3 Examples of (Other) Primary Defects in Coffee Beans [Part 2]

  • Assessment of sweetness, uniformity, and clean cup of coffee is also done when the coffee solution has been at a temperature below 38 degrees Celsius.
  • The overall aspect will also be judged based on the Q grader ‘s personal assessment of the coffee’s flavor .
  • Evaluation of the coffee sample will stop when the coffee is at 21 degrees Celsius.
  • Q graders can add up the scores of the various aspects that have been evaluated previously by filling in the total score section.
  • At the end, namely the final score, all points that have been summed up in the total score will be reduced by the defect score and produce a final score. If the final score is above 80, the coffee is classified as specialty coffee.

Read also: Get to Know More About Specialty Coffee, High Quality Coffee with the Best Quality Standards

Well, that’s a discussion related to the history and process of cupping testing for specialty coffee. Apparently, from the best quality coffee, there are a lot of processes that must be passed in it. I hope this article is useful.

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