Updated: May 4, 2021
When you hear the word “cupping” you probably think of the heated cup therapy used as an alternative form of medicine. You know—the one Michael Phelps brought into the spotlight in 2016. Well, there's another kind of cupping that some might also find to be therapeutic in its own way: coffee cupping. Otherwise known as coffee tastings.
Coffee cupping allows you to identify the flavor notes of a coffee like you would during a wine tasting. So when the coffee bag label reads “a hint of chocolate” or “notes of blueberry,” they aren’t adding these flavors to the coffee. Rather, these are natural hints of flavors based on where the coffee is grown. For roasters, cuppings can also help them decide how light or dark to roast a specific bean.
Is cupping just brewing a cup of coffee and tasting it?
You can certainly do that and it would be a good starting point if you’ve never done a cupping before, but it’s not a true one. Roasters conduct cuppings for a coffee that has been roasted in the last 24 to 48 hours.
How is it done?
First, steep a small amount of coffee grounds in a cup of boiling hot water. After four minutes, gently remove the grounds with a spoon and taste it (best to slurp) with a spoon. The natural sugar compounds in coffee react and change based on the heat applied to it during the roasting process. This is how the same coffee can taste different based on how it’s roasted, highlighting different flavor notes. One important thing to understand: in the end, it’s a subjective process for each person participating. If you don’t taste those notes in the coffee, that’s okay. What is most important is if you enjoyed it.
We've been doing a lot of coffee cuppings lately to make decisions on how we should roast certain coffees and to help us decide which coffees we should share with you. Our goal is to provide a variety of profiles and flavor notes in hopes that you feel Inner Loop Coffee is special and delicious!