Coffee Cupping Process

Cupping and Cupping Forms

Cupping and cupping forms are widely used in the roasting industry.   There has been a lot written about cupping forms and how to capture a particular coffee’s taste attributes. Let me tell you, it’s not always that easy!!!

I’ve been lucky in a way, given most of what I do is self-taught I haven’t been tainted by any good or bad practices.  So when I tackled the design of the cupping form for Cirelli Coffee Roasting Co Pty Ltd I did a lot of research and comparisons.

Whilst the form appears quite detailed I’ve tried to add extra information to each stage of the cupping analysis to assist the cupper in defining the particular taste they are experiencing in the hope of actually simplifying the process and providing greater consistency.  I also tried to break down the cupping session into a series of ‘sniffs’ and ‘tastings’, relating to a particular taste profile on the form.  I’ve called them ‘Dry Sniffs’, ‘Wet Sniffs’ and ‘Suction’.

The reason for all the “hoo-ha” is that Cirelli Coffee Roasting Co Pty Ltd together with Entropy are organising a series of cupping sessions held at Entropy (Watch this Space for info. on times etc) to spread some coffee love and provide a small piece of how your coffee is evaluated.

The sessions will initially be geared at the entry level, towards people who have an interest in coffee and what goes on behind the scene to assist in producing the coffee that you drink on a daily basis.  If you want to know how we work out what bean to use or which bean works best!!!  The answer is simple…When you see the post -register you interest  and come along!!!

Below is some further information on cupping.  Also attached are some printable CoffeeTech Sheets, the first of a series about Coffee, for information.

It is a work in progress and I’m more than willing to take on any comments for improvement. Enjoy!

The Equipment

o  Cupping Table
o  Sample Roaster
o  Digital Balance
o  Digital timer
o  Colour discs
o  Cupping Form
o  Grinder
o  Hot Water (195-205oF)
o  Silver cupping spoon
o  Cupping glasses
o  Clipboard and Pencil
o  Quiet, well lit area.

Know Your Cupping Terminology

It is all about smelling, swilling, and savouring to judge taste, texture, aroma and origin.

Understanding what these terms mean, along with the repeated practice, will improve your cupping.

Term Description Notes
Fragrance Aromatic aspects of dry ground coffee
Aroma Aromatic aspects of ground coffee when infused with hot water. After you break the crust.
Acidity Immediately experienced and evaluated when the coffee is first slurped.How it complements the whole cup.”Brightness” when favourable or “sour” when unfavourable.At its best, acidity contributes to a coffee’s liveliness, sweetness, and fresh- fruit character.Is it “overly” intense or dominating may be unpleasant,Coffees without acidity tend to taste flat and dull, like flat soda. \
Mouth feel The mouth feel or heaviness perceived on the surface of the tongue.How it coats the palate.How it balances.Is it thin like tea or thick like milk?
Flavour Defined as taste and aroma, mid-tones of coffee Are they pleasant and/or directly identifiable.
Sweetness Subtle pleasant sweetness in coffee. Sweetness refers to a pleasing fullness of flavour as well as any obvious sweetness. The opposite of sweetness in this context is sour, astringency or “green” flavours.
Clean Cup Transparency in the cup, should be free of off-flavours and defects.In evaluating this attribute, notice the total flavour experience from the time of the initial ingestion to final swallowing or expectoration.Any non-coffee like tastes or aromas will disqualify an individual cup. 2 points are awarded for each cup displaying the attribute of Clean Cup.
Balance Overall rating of coffee, no one parameter should dominate.How all the various aspects of Flavour, Aftertaste, Acidity and Body of the sample work together and complement or contrast to each other is Balance. If the sample is lacking in certain aroma or taste attributes or if some attributes are overpowering, the Balance score would be reduced.
Aftertaste Duration of flavour attributesAftertaste is defined as the length of positive flavour (taste and aroma) qualities emanating from the back of the palate and remaining after the coffee is swallowed. A lingering, pleasant, non-bitter and non-sour aftertaste If the aftertaste were short or unpleasant, a lower score would be given.
Overall Your overall rating of this coffee. This is subjective

Roasting the Coffee

o  Light to medium roast (Agtron value between 55-65) to keep flavour notes and highlight defects.
o  The roast should be completed in no less than 8 minutes and no more than 12 minutes.
o  Freshly roasted (no more than 24-48 hours in age)
o  Uniform colour, No Quakers, Scorching or Tipping.

Preparing the Infusion

o  Rest coffee overnight in a clean area.
o  Standard brew formula of 8.25g per 150mL of water (adjust to needs)
o  Generally 5 cups needed per sample to ensure uniform representation of the coffee sample.
o  Sample should be coarse ground no more than 15 minutes before infusion with water and covered.


o  Water used for cupping should be clean and odour free, but not distilled or softened.
o  The water should be freshly drawn and brought to approximately 93ºC at the time it is poured onto the ground coffee.
o  The hot water should be poured directly onto the measured grounds to the rim of the cup, making sure to wet all of the grounds.
o  The grounds to steep undisturbed for a period of 3-5 minutes before evaluation.

The Cupping Form

o  Keep this process as simple as possible.
Scoring – a score of 5 to 10 applicable for each (5 assumes it is still “specialty coffee” quality, but the lowest of the low.
o  Filling out the form-
General information: the cupper fills the top of the page with his name.
Variety – the Cupper writes the variety.
Roast Colour: the cupper may view a tray, provided showing all the ground coffee samples to be cupped in the session, to observe the uniformity of roasts.
First taste the dry grounds, then the crust that forms after water is poured on the coffee, and lastly when the cupper breaks the crust and smells the vapours that are released.
o  The cupper rates each by drawing a line through the ladder structure and and notes the intensity.
Totalling: once all criteria have been scored the scores are tallied.

The Cupping Steps

 Temp  Tasting Information
DRY SNIFF  Nil  Fragrance  Within 15 minutes after samples have been ground, the dry fragrance of the samples should be evaluated

92-96º C


After pouring the hot water into the cup and steeping for 3-4 minutes. Break the crust by stirring 3 times while sniffing.
Taste Part 1 71º C



Because the retro nasal vapours are at their maximum intensity at these elevated temperatures.
Taste Part 2

60-70 º C




 Balance is the cupper’s assessment of how well the Flavour, Aftertaste, Acidity, and Body fit together in a synergistic combination.
Taste Part 3 Below37º C

Sweetness Uniformity Clean Cup

At room temperature.  For these attributes, the cupper makes a judgment on each individual cup.
Taste Part 4 Above21º C DefectTaintsFaults We subtract any defects that may have been present and get a Final Score.

  • Taint– any defect that is noticeable but usually not overwhelming in aromatic aspect. Any taints present in the cup are penalized 2 points.
  • Fault-an overwhelming defect typically characterized as a sour, ferment, or phenolic. Faults are subject to 4 points of penalization.

Then described (“sour,” “rubbery,” “ferment,” “phenolic”)

 End 21º C  Nil Evaluation of the coffee should cease at 21º C

The overall score is determined by the cupper and given to the sample as “Cupper’s Points” based on ALL of the combined attributes.

Cirelli Coffee – Cupping Info Sheet CoffeeTechnica – Cupping Info

Cirelli Coffee – Cupping Form Coffee Technica Cupping Form

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