Notes for How to do a coffee cupping

Add what's relevant to the sop note for cupping.

Cupping with the SCA Form [Trish Rothgieb]


  • Use the sixth bowl as a water bowl
  • Use a milk pitcher as a spitoon
  • Add "quality words" to the list while smelling
  • Skim
  • Slurp and get flavor and aftertaste at the same time
  • Write down words first before scoring
    • "The words kind of tell me what I want to say"


  • sweetness: is sweetness present? does it meet the benchmark for sweetness in a specialty coffee? That's it. It's not about intensity, just the presence of arabica coffee benchmark-level sweetness.
  • uniformity: is each cup the same? punish by 2 points for each cup that is different from the others.
  • clean cup: is there a taint in the cup? mark 2 points for each cup with a taint or defect (e.g. it's moldy or dusty, etc.
  • if you notice a defect, the coffee loses points from defects, clean cup and uniformity
  • overall: your holistic judgment, referencing the above, not necessarily whether or not you like it.

Cupping Session on Periscope with Tim Wendelboe


  • we roast T, W, R and wait until the following M to taste because I personally find the taste more smoky and like freshly baked bread when they're too fresh
  • we let them rest for 4-5 days before we cup them. That's the minimum. It's easier to separate between a coffee being "too dark" and being "too fresh".
  • start with 98C because you lose a lot of temperature once you get the water into the cup
  • grounds should be like filter ground, maybe finer - if you want to sure, you'll have to measure TDS
  • my weakest ability is to smell, these are all coffees from the same farm with more or less the same aromatics. so i'm not paying too much attention to that, i'm just looking to see if i can detect any ferment, if its over-roasted or under-roasted
  • for our QC, all our coffees in production, we don't pay too much attention to smell, because the coffee is already bought
  • Most of these smell floral, there's one that smells a little grassy. You can already tell on the crust that it's starting to break by itself, and that's a good indicator that your roast is a little too light. It can also come from cold brewing water or underdeveloped roast. If you get a thick crust with a lot of gas bubbles, it just means you're roasting a little bit darker than I am.
  • Standard way to stir at the SCA is to stir at the surface. What matters is that you're consistent. If you want to stir from top to bottom, you need to grind a little bit coarser.
  • Tim is fine with dipping the skim from several coffees into one well. Use one shared well (with water), and then use separate wells for each coffee.
  • I find that it's easy to tell if it's underdeveloped when it's very hot.
  • Slurp like it's a very hot soup to get more of air into our mouths, so that air travels to our nasal cavity, the olfactory center, where all the aromas are detected.

- If you don't spit, the caffeine will begin to affect your ability to taste. If you swallow 40 samples in a row, on sample 50, you're not going to be able to assess it precisely, because your body will reject it ("I don't want coffee anymore").



  1. What is balance?

  2. Is "overall" subjective?



  1. Set a baseline for sweetness. Cup robustas and arabicas in different arrangements (3 robustas and 1 arabica, 2 of each, and 1 robusta and 3 arabicas) to see whether I can identify the robusta in a blind cupping on sweetness alone.

  2. What's the sweetest robusta? Is it still recognizable as a robusta based on sweetness?

  3. What's the least sweet origin? Is it still recognizable as an arabica?


Clean Cup/Defect/Uniformity

  1. Deliberately "taint" cups during cupping (for practice).

ADDITIVES (Friday will have to add discretely after the pouring step)

  • add acetic acid to simluate over-ripe ("garlic-onion", "acetic acid", "sour" - is this different from vinegar?)
  • add vinegar or old wine to simulate over-fermentation ("vinegar", "old wine", "gamey")
  • add lactic acid to learn "sweaty" (indicative of fats changing chemically)

ROAST (Friday will have to prepare the session)

  • use old beans (2 weeks, 4 weeks and 8 weeks) to taste "aged or faded" (sub-descriptors: "paper", "dried wood", "stale bread", "cardboard")
  • over-roast to taste "ashy", "fishy"
  • scorch to taste "scorched" (sub-descriptors: "empyreumatic", "charred" and "cooked")
  • tip to taste "tipped" (sub-descriptors: "skunky", "biscuity", "cereal-like")
  • bake or use the Roast Defect Kit to taste "baked" (sub-descriptors: "bakey", "flat", and "dull")
  • use "underdeveloped" in the Roast Defect Kit to taste "unsweet peas" and "unsweet grain"
  1. Develop a mental catalogue of specific taints or faults.
  2. practice recognizing the smell or taste and then naming the taint or fault
  • taste faults (due to fats changing chemically)?
    • sweaty: taste/smell lactic acid and butyric acid (don't have soapy)
    • hidy: smell "leather-like" (don't have tallowy or wet wool)
    • horsey: smell and taste gamey, goatey (hircine) and cooked beef
  • taste faults (due to acids changing chemically)
    • fermented: smell "coffee pulp" (don't have acerbic or leesy)
    • rioy: smell "iodine" and taste "acrid" (don't have carbolic)
    • rubbery: taste "butyl phenol" and smell "kerosene" and "ethanol"
  • taste faults (due to loss of organic material)
    • grassy: smell "green", "hay", "straw" or use "underdeveloped" in the Roast Defect Kit
    • aged: use old coffee, (don't have "full", "rounded", "smooth"?)
    • woody: smell/taste "wet paper", "wet cardboard", and "filter pad"
  • aroma taints (due to improper roasting)
    • baked: by baking the beans or using "baked" in the Roast Defect Kit (don't have ("bakey", "flat", or "dull")
    • scorched: by scorching the beans (don't have "empyreumatic", "charred" or "cooked")
    • tipped: by tipping the beans (don't have "skunky", "biscuity", or "cereal-like")
  • aroma taints (due to fats absorbing tastes)
    • baggy: :( smell mineral oil? fat? carvacrol?
    • moldy: :( smell starch and yeast (don't have "cappy")
    • musty: :( (don't have "mulch-like", "mildewy" or "concrete")
  • aroma taints (due to fats absorbing odors)?

    • dirty: smell "pepper" (don't have "barny" or "grady")
    • groundy: smell "raw potato" and "mushroom"(don't have "dusty" [NdV])
    • earthy: smell "earthy" (don't have hummus or wet soil)
    • "baggy" by storing the beans with "mineral oil" or "carvacrol" (look it up)
    • gamey through game meat
    • old wine through literal old wine
    • overripe through garlic and onion
    • mold/phenolic through aromas (iodine, band-aid, rubber, medicinal, chlorine)
    • rotten (stinker) through compost and funk/garbage

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