How To Ensure The Consistency Of Cupping Coffee?

How To Ensure The Consistency Of Cupping Coffee

During the cupping, if the extraction rate of each cup of coffee on the table is different, does it make sense for us to write cupping notes?

Cupping is an essential evaluation tool for anyone who wants to buy, sell, or roast coffee. It can be used to compare batch differences, identify flavor profiles, find defects in green beans and roasts, and assist you in trading based on the production area and the degree of roasting.

In view of the benefits of cupping described above, the accuracy and consistency of the cupping are very important.

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Why Is Cupping Consistency Important?

No matter what business you are in, accurate and consistent information when making a decision will be the key to assisting you in making a decision.

The mineral composition of water and its temperature, the amount of fine powder and large particles produced during coffee grinding, changes in roasting techniques, and even local temperature and temperature may affect the accuracy of cupping, which will make you face unreliable data.

What we want to do is to be able to analyze or evaluate the coffee itself. To this end, we must first standardize all the variables in the brewing process to ensure that when we brew, taste, or compare coffee samples, there is the only one among them. The difference is just the difference in the coffee beans themselves.

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Factor 1: Water Quality

The mineral composition of the water and the hardness of the water affect not only the taste of the water but also the extraction rate of coffee. Therefore, unless the water quality is controlled, coffee cups in different regions will have different scores. And flavor profile.

The standardization of water quality is obviously a critical variable because water accounts for a large proportion of the coffee you want to taste.

The SCA Cupping Guide of the Specialty Coffee Association mentions that the cupping water must be clean and tasteless, not distilled or soft water. The ideal water quality for cupping should be between 125-175ppm TDS.

You should know the water quality of your cupping water. In order to ensure that the water quality used during cupping is the same, you must use water quality testing accessories and test the water from the same source. If the testing meets the standard, it should continue to be applied throughout the entire cupping process.

Sometimes roasters also bring their own cupping kits, which include refraction instruments and machines for measuring TDS.

But don't forget that even if it is from the same source of water, its water quality will change. It is generally recommended to test your water at least weekly if it is to be used for cupping.

As a coffee fan, when you drink your delicious coffee, do you know what is the definition of caffeine? What the other usual diets contain caffeine?

Factor 2: Water Temperature

According to SCA, the temperature of coffee powder when it comes in contact with water during cupping should be 93ºC, but controlling this temperature is a tricky thing.

It is very important to use accurate and stable heating appliances. Matthew said that they use the Marco PB10 boiler, which is designed to stabilize the water temperature.

Another factor that affects water temperature is that the temperature of hot water will be lost due to contact with air. The action of injecting hot water into the cup should be as fast as possible to reduce the time gap between each cup.

Danny said that when he was evaluating the Excellence Cup, the way to overcome the temperature loss was to use a very large kettle. The boiling hot water was poured out of a four-liter kettle and poured water from one end of the table to the other to 20. ~22 cups of coffee, each cup is poured to the edge of the cup, the process takes about one and a half minutes.

The shape of the kettle is also very important. Do not use a narrow-necked pot to fill the water, so the brewing of each cup of coffee will inevitably be different. For example, the first cup of coffee will touch the hottest hot water, and the last cup of coffee will be the temperature. The lowest hot water, because the narrow-necked pot will make the hot water come into contact with more cooling substances when filling, causing the heat of the hot water to lose.

Accuracy is also very important. Although the difference here is only a few seconds, or the temperature difference is half a degree, it may not sound much, but it will affect the extraction of coffee. Make sure that the samples on the form are consistent, and the analysis of each sample only focuses on the coffee itself, not the difference in brewing water temperature, which is the key.

If you want to brew better coffee, doing much practice is a good choice.

Factor 3: Roasting

Suppose the purpose of your cupping is to find out the flavor potential of green coffee beans, not the potential flavor characteristics of roasting. In that case, it is important to minimize the differences caused by coffee roasting or exhaust. The roaster should understand the protocol established by SCA for sample roasting, including roasting degree, standing time, sample storage conditions, etc.

Factor 4: Grinding Size

Although the machine can heat the hot water to a precise temperature, you can also measure the degree of roasting on various instruments. Still, the measurement of the grinding size is more difficult. The most important thing is to obtain the correct grinding size and limit the fine powder as much as possible. And the production of large particles. Pay attention to the grinding quality of the grinder, and use tools such as screens to ensure consistency.

The SCA agreement of the Specialty Coffee Association states that coffee samples should be weighed as raw beans and soaked in water within fifteen minutes after being ground into powder. The grinding size should be slightly coarser than the grinding degree used for pour-over coffee. And can use the American standard size 20 sieve to sieve 70-75% of the particles to the degree of fineness. SCA recommends preparing at least five cups of samples for each type of coffee in order to ensure consistency between samples.

It should also be noted here that if there is residual powder left over from the previous grinding in the grinder, it may cause contamination of the sample during grinding. SCA recommends that a small amount of sample beans should be ground and discarded before grinding the sample. This means that it will be the same type of coffee, even if it is residual powder.

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Factor 5: Cupping Procedure

Reproducibility during cupping is as important as consistency. A rigorous cupping process helps to improve the reproducibility of each cupping. If you fill in half of the water during the cup test, the phone rings, and then let the water and coffee cool for three minutes, and then continue to fill the water after talking on the phone, many cups of coffee have already started to extract, so there will be some during the cup test—over-extracted or under-extracted samples.

Even small variables will affect the reproducibility of cupping. The following key points must be observed during cupping:

  • When breaking the slag, don't be so vigorous that the agitation may affect the extraction
  • When removing the slag, try not to stir the coffee with a spoon so that the turbulence affects the coffee
  • When sipping each cup of coffee, wash the spoon with clean water to reduce the influence of different coffee samples on the flavor
  • Try not to talk during the cupping so as not to affect the flavor that others drink and distract attention. Grinding size may be the trickiest part of complying with international cupping standards because it is more difficult to standardize.

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Factor 6: Cuppers

A well-trained team is also one of the keys to the standardization of the cupping process. Experienced cuppers can accept taste corrections with the team, making the communication during the cupping and the consistency of the scores more efficient.

However, cuppers are also the most difficult variable to control. Differences in the cultural background may have gaps in the perception of food and flavor in the cup tester team.

In order to solve this problem, some competitions like the Cup of Excellence must meet certain requirements. Cup testers must not only have years of cupping experience but also need to perform cupping regularly. In addition, several rounds of taste correction are required for each cupping activity.

For producers and roasters, it is worth training the team together, such as tasting fruits, spices, and other foods that are usually used as references. If you have teams in different countries or regions, this action is very important. If you use fruits such as dragon fruit and grapefruit to describe the flavor in the Asian Cup, then being familiar with the flavors of these fruits may enhance the awareness of the European team members. You can also refer to the situation during calibration, such as comparing how cup testers describe the flavor of the same coffee sample.

When cupping forms the basis of important business decisions, from the purchase of coffee to the configuration of the roasting method and the processing of micro-batches for experiments, it is important to implement the details of the cupping correctly. You need cupping results you can trust.

Therefore, quantify each link as much as possible, train the team, and pay attention to variables such as roasting degree, grinding size, water quality, and water temperature.

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