I know what you're thinking, "Oh, of course, the ancient Chinese medicinal practice of suctioning cups to your skin until it bruises into colorful advertisements of dope circulation and health consciousness."
No? That's not what you expected to find in this coffee blog on this coffee website? Well you're a wise peruser, because this is not about that. It's about the much more recently established practice of coffee cupping.
Coffee cupping actually originated right across The Bay in the bustling San Francisco, during the First Wave of American coffee. It's a professional practice developed and designed to help you get a better feel for the personality of the coffee you're either roasting, brewing, selling, or most importantly, drinking. So let's walk through it.
First, gather yourself a collection of cups. I'd like to mention that it's important to remember throughout the process that, like most things in life, much of this is subjective. For example, in order to account for potential defects, you should have a minimum of two cups for each coffee you're exploring. But do you feel like using three? Go for it. Four? Ok that might be a little overkill but who am I to say... I have cereal for dinner between two and four times a week. The point is, if you want to, go for it. If there's a specific regulation I'll let you know.
So get yourself some cups. The first step is to dose out the beans. According to SCA -The Specialty Coffee Association and not to be confused with SKA, a genre of music guaranteed to test the pluck of my dad's pacemaker- the standard ratio of coffee to glass size is 8 grams of coffee per 5.5 oz glass.
Next, grind the beans very coarsely while you're boiling your water. That is all.
Now I hope your sinuses are nice and clear, because you really need your nose for this next step. Like, unimpeded. Smell the grounds dry, give them a big ol' sniff. What do you smell? Flowers? Chocolate? Caramel? Let your nose wander like a less obnoxious Veruca Salt through Willy Wonka's chocolate factory. All the curious demand, none of the pirouetting petulance. Write down what you find.
Once your water hits 200°, and this part is really crazy, pour it. I'm kidding it's not that crazy. Just make sure you cover all the grounds.
Nose still working? Good deal, because after four minutes you're going to dive back in. Get as close as you can and use a spoon to press down on what's called the 'crust'; the thin layer of grounds hanging out on top. This step is 'breaking the crust,' and once it's broken, you need to clear it out of the cup. So take two spoons and drag them belly-down (in case that wasn't obvious) across it to collect as much as you can. Repeat until it's gone.
You've done it. You're here. It's time to actually taste the coffee.
Remember being yelled at for making awesome noises with your milk or juice or whatever when you were little? Well the joke is on diligent parenting, because you were honing a very important coffee tasting skill: slurping. Slurping coats your entire palate and mouth simultaneously, rather than exposing various regions at different times.
Write down your experience. What do you like? What do you not like? Is it roasty, green, complex, delicate? Don't be afraid to sound ridiculous or indulgent. Odds are that if you use a word like 'balsamic,' someone nearby will turn to you with wide eyes and the phrase, "That's it!" on their lips. And maybe a little coffee, too.
Thanks for reading! Also, check out Standart Magazine, which was an invaluable resource.