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The most common cupping errors

 

For food service customer, the analysis of specialty coffee can represent a unique experience and be completely different from any other.  It can even be the motive for these customers to come back  and consume at the location that provided the experience.

 

Cupping is also important for the baristas and managers of hotels and restaurants.  Did you know this?  Among other things, preforming this tasting brings these professionals closer to people involved in your business and on the productive chain of everyone.  Therefore, it increases the communication chances among the partners, that increases the value of the brand they represent.

 

We have already presented here on the blog a content that shows that the service excellence of a specialty coffee begins with its tasting, however, there exists many common errors in the process that should be avoided at all costs!  It is about them that we will talk about next:

 

The 7 most common errors executed by someone who performs a cupping

 

  1. Is not concerned about the location where the cupping is preformed

Contrary to what you think, the cupping needs to occur in an environment that is well lit and as quiet as possible, without distractions.

Besides that, the tasting location can not be “filled” with other aromas.  The perfume from someone passing through, or even the smell of a cleaning product, for example, can interfere negatively with the experience

  1. Ignoring the requirements of a standard model and sizes of the equipment and utensils used in the process.

This is another quite common error! For the cupping to function according to your objectives, the cups in which the coffee will be served and tasted must all be of the same volume and dimensions.  They also need to be made of the same material.

Otherwise,  the proportion of water used in each cup will be different and even the temperature of the beverage will not be at the ideal level.

  1. Forget or not follow the steps of the sample preparation.

Here once again comes the concern with the temperature of the water, as well as the proportion of the liquid that is used in the preparation of the tasting.  Both it and all the other measurement proportions of each sample should be controlled with precision.  Aside from this, equipment and utensils should be constantly clean!

These are some examples of steps that can not be overlooked.  Remember even the simplest detail can have an influence on the taste of the specialty coffee for this experience.

  1. Not having in hand, the cupping form or knowledge about the form.

We recommend all cuppers to have in hand the Specialty Coffee Association* cupping standards form to experience a cupping. Each specialty coffee cupper should have their own form, in print, open on a tablet, computer, or cell phone in a format that allows it to be filled in during the cupping process.

The more familiar someone is with the form, its terms, scales, and scores, the more complete the analysis of the beans will be.  Even more: the notes should be made during the entire cupping process.  Failure to write down sensations, unfavorable and pleasurable aromas and tastes is another common error that should be avoided!

*The form and other protocols related to cupping are available on the Specialty Coffee Association website.

  1. Be overly concerned about the perfect vocabulary and the discussions of the sensations.

None of the notes suggested above of sensations, unfavorable and pleasurable need to be made with an exemplary vocabulary or specifically suited to the field of coffee.  Those who go through a cupping should take notes and make descriptions with their own words!

Discussing the sensations is something positive, as long as the discussion occurs at the time of discussion immediately after cupping and not during the cupping experience.  For the simple motive that someone can say something that will influence the perception of others involved in the cupping.

  1. Feel disgusted or ashamed

Those who want to be truly involved in the cupping process cannot feel one thing or the other. Principally professionals involved in the day to day of bars and restaurants, when they participate in a tasting, should spit in the proper place for the samples that they taste.

Swallowing so much caffeine is bad for the body and can even affect the palate.

  1. Forget to comeback and focus on the senses

The palate is only one of the senses that requires attention.  To use it correctly, those who participate in a cupping need to slurp the coffee so that it covers all areas of the tongue. Afterall, each area has a distinct perception of taste and texture.  See:

 

The sensorial analysis of a specialty coffee starts with the eyes and many characteristics of the beverage need to be perceived starting with the vision before the smell and taste come into action.  Only afterwards will the coffee be smelled, tasted and other attributes evaluated. Therefore, attention to the senses 100% of the time is fundamental for perfect cupping!

 

Coronavirus

Some changes cupping processes have been thought out and applied in response to the pandemic caused by the Coronavirus.  Even with everyone vaccinated and protected against the virus, we recommend that following these protocol changes so that any contamination, even minor, can be avoided.

 

 

Anne Valdez is a world-renowned expert in the field of coffee with over 35 years of experience. She has an appreciation and passion for quality coffee and the attention given to coffee in all phases of production, particularly in roasting and brewing. She has been an international cupping judge, a regional barista judge, espresso training station instructor and a craft roasting station instructor. Her travels to origin include twelve different producing countries. She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a BS in Business Administration.