Coffee Cupping

I’m a coffee addict. I admit it. I get a little snippy when I don’t have my morning brew. Unlike many other coffee enthusiasts, I actually am not loyal to a particular brand or roast. I like to try different kinds to get a flavor for what’s out there.

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In order to find out what coffee gets you excited to get up in the morning, why not try a coffee cupping? Like a wine tasting, coffee cupping is a fun way to get to know different flavors.

“Coffee cupping is the process to evaluate coffee’s taste, the stop-and-smell-the-roses step in your development as a coffee drinker.” – The Art and Craft of Coffee, Kevin Sinnott.

Photo taken from The Art and Craft of Coffee (© Quarry Books, 2010)

Here’s what you’ll need

Tea kettle
1 6-ounce (180 ml) rocks glass for each coffee sample
1 water glass per participant, for rinsing spoons
3 to 6 fresh ground coffee samples
Scale, to weigh coffees
1 cupping spoon per participant
Log book to score and describe the coffees
1 serving sparkling water for each participant, to cleanse palate between cupping (optional)
Spittoon, such as a tall glass or bowl (optional)

What to do

Make sure to deeply sniff the coffee. As in wine tasting, coffee is deeply aromatic.
Taste deeply. Keep in mind that coffee becomes more flavorful as it cools.

The important thing in a casual coffee cupping is to have fun with it. Try to guess the roast or the region. Share your thoughts with others. And, most importantly, make sure to write down your favorites so that you know which ones to buy for next time.

For more information on coffee cupping or on how to keep a cupping journal, pick up your very own copy of The Art and Craft of Coffee by Kevin Sinnott.

Kevin Sinnott, host of the how-to video Coffee Brewing Secrets and curator of, is the United States’ foremost consumer coffee authority. His latest project is, a web series following college students determined to win a national competition marketing their own brand of Guatemalan coffee.