Guide to Coffee Cupping

Coffee Cupping is the professional practice for tasting and observing the aromas and flavours of brewed coffee.

Cupping is used by a barista, in a similar way to how a somalia would taste, judge and evaluate wine, but with coffee.

An official coffee cupping is done with a strict set of parameters, defined by the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) . These parameters define everything from coffee to water ratios, TDS of the water, the cup shape and size, the spoon shape, size and weight, and even the physical room size!

I will not be breaking down all of these - if you want to read more they can be found on the SCA website (

I will be simplifying the cupping process, if you want to try it at home!

8.25g (0.3oz) coffee to 150ml (5.07oz) of water (if you don't have a scale this is ~1.25 tablespoons of coffee)

Water standards
Water temp of 92.2 - 94.4 °C (200°F ± 2°F)

Coffee Grind
Medium - Corse (should look similar to coarse sea salt)

1. Smell the ground coffee before adding water - take note of any smells you associate with the ground coffee. This is not a test - there are no wrong answers. This is just to allow you to explore the coffee.

2. Add the heated water to the cup and start a timer for 4 minutes.

3. After the timer is finished, you should notice a crust has started to form with the ground beans on the surface of the coffee. Break the crust with the back of a spoon, this allows the coffee to off-gas as its brewing and gives you another chance to smell the coffee. Note any new smells that have developed.

4. Rinse the spoon used to break the crust and use it to remove any grounds that may still be sitting on the surface of the coffee.

5. Let the coffee cool for another 10-15 minutes

6. The slurp - this is what you have been waiting for, the first taste of the coffee. Slurp the coffee, allow it to spread across your tongue to taste the full range of flavours. As the coffee cools, you should notice and taste a different and a larger range of flavours.

This can be done with one coffee, or several at a time, just clean the spoon between coffees to not mix the flavours together.

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1 comment
  • Hello,
    I thought it may be worth it to point out the error in this sentence…
    “Cupping is used by a barista, in a similar way to how a somalia would taste, judge and evaluate wine, but with coffee.”

    Somalia is a country, a sommelier is a wine professional.

    Melissa on

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