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The Secret of Coffee Cupping

by Kaitlin Graham 06 May 2024

What is cupping?

Cupping is a method that is used to evaluate a coffee’s quality and its flavors. The cupping process starts with pouring hot water directly into a cup with coffee grounds. After it’s steeped and cooled for a few minutes, the taster scoops up coffee with a spoon, pours it into a second spoon, and tastes the brew. Cupping is most commonly used as a quality control method for specialty coffee, but it’s also sometimes used by coffee tasters to identify key differences between coffee varieties. 

History of Coffee Cupping

Coffee cupping was the first standardized system of evaluating coffee. It was invented in the 19th century by merchants who wanted to know what they were going to get out of the coffee they bought. 

In the 1990s, the Specialty Coffee Association invented the Coffee Taster’s Flavor Profile Wheel (pictured below) to categorize coffee flavors in a uniform model. The Specialty Coffee Association uses cupping to consistently determine the flavors of diverse brews. Today, cupping is often done in a controlled, lab-like environment that eliminates variables like temperature, air movement, and odor that could alter the taste of a brew. Coffee cupping also gives consumers reliable information about the flavor profile of the coffee they are considering purchasing. 

The Coffee Taster's Flavor Profile Wheel

Monkey Hanger Co. is proud to be a member of the Specialty Coffee Association. We use the Coffee Taster’s Flavor Profile Wheel and cupping process to determine the tasting notes of our coffees to give our customers the most accurate flavor expectations, based on our interpretation. Of course, taste is personal and part of the enjoyment of coffee is discovering the flavors that are most prominent to you.

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