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There are several reasons why people love to drink coffee. First, they drink coffee because many people drink it. They consider it merely as an edgy trend among youngsters. Second, they love on how the caffeine kicks their body and boost their daily performance. Usually from students to the worker are the in this. Third, they love to drink coffee because they distinguish the richness on it’s quality.

People who on the first group probably will not mind on coffee they drink, even though it is just merely an artificial coffee essence added with caffeine. People on the second group start to consider the quality of coffee which suit them best. While people on third group will criticize the barista, if the description on the menu not fit with the reality.

What is Cupping Coffee?

Terms of cupping coffee also known as coffee taster. Everyone is allowed to do cupping coffee process, but only specially trained person who will be able to describe the detailed quality on each coffee they test. People who professionally do the cupping coffee called as Q Graders.

Cupping coffee is different compared with drinking coffee. Q Graders do the cupping coffee at least for three reasons. First to evaluate the taste and aroma of coffee. Second to characterize on each coffee they test e.g.: flavor, aroma, fragrance, acidity and the after taste. The third one is to test the homogeneity of the coffee.

There are two different physical criteria for doing cupping coffee:

  1. Roasting level of coffee is medium (Arabica require 175-215 °C while Robusta: 165-195 °C).
  2. Particles of coffee powder is coarse.

Cupping Room and Q Preparation

Specially designed room are needed to conduct the cupping coffee. Room must meet the requirements to get assigned as cupping room. The room has to be clean, no contamination, quiet, have a cool air circulated (air conditioned, if necessary), enough light, and the room is neatly arranged.

A professional and skilled Q Graders have to be confident and calm person, not eat or smoke minimum 30 minutes before the cupping process, not feeling hungry or full, and not allowed to use any perfume or fragrance.

Cupping Preparation

After the cupping room and the Q Graders are ready it is essential to prepare for the cupping coffee it self. There are two things that need to be prepared: the tools and the procedure of coffee preparation. The tools that will be needed are cupping glass have to be exactly the same volume size (200 ml) and made from glass or porcelain. The spoon used for cupping coffee have to be the soup spoon.

Coffee samples need to be roasted with light-medium roast based on Agtron 55-60 for 8 to 12 minutes and have to be air cooled off as soon as the roasting ends. Coffee samples have to be coarse grind not more than 15 minutes before the brewing process. Water that used to brew have to be clean, no smelling and tasteless. Ideal water temperature for brewing coffee is 93 °C with the ideal ratio 8.25 grams of coffee and 150 ml of water.

Steps on Cupping Coffee

There are many steps that have to be followed on cupping coffee. First is observing the ground coffee and do the sniffing to sense the aroma of the ground coffee before brewed. Finish the sniffing and start to brew the coffee and wait for 5 minutes. Break the lid that covers the surface of the coffee and breath in to sense the aroma. Graders have to remove the floating coffee and wait until it’s temperature cooled down to 50 °C.

Once it is cooled down, do the slurping of the coffee to evaluate the coffee characteristics. Slurping process will make the coffee mixed with the air in order to spread the aroma and taste to each human sense of taste. In this process, do fluid the entire surface of the tongue for at least 3 until 5 seconds to make sure that our tongue sense is working well.

Following the above cupping process, each Q Graders have to sense the coffee sensation and try to figure out the defects of the coffee, if any. Also, they have to sense the detailed characteristics of the coffee (it’s flavor, bitterness and acidity). Last process is each graders have to rub the coffee liquid to their own palate to feel the body of the coffee. After that, discard the coffee liquid and repeat the whole process up to 2 until 3 times with 10-15 minutes of break between sessions, to get more accurate results.

Coffee Characteristics Evaluation

Sensing the coffee characteristics are the qualitative test and have to be written down with the qualitative value. For example, the tongue sense the sweet and acidic taste, means that is Arabica coffee. While if it sense the pungent with a sharp taste, means that is the Robusta.Others taste that Graders able to sense on cupping coffee are: sour, greasy, smokey, woody, papery, earthy, stinker, cereal, chemical and salty.

A professional Graders also able to distinguish on how strong on one taste. For example, they are able to sense on how acid the coffee sample is. Heavy sour, balanced acid and mild are the three levels of acidity.

In the cupping coffee process, not only using tongue as a tool to measure the quality but also the nose. Sniffing the coffee samples will gather the information on how it smells. Nutty, herbal or fruity are the example of the qualitative results.

After Taste Coffee Characteristics

People love to enjoy coffee not merely while the sip the coffee. They also wanna get the after taste (the taste that left on the human sense after each siping or even after they left the cafe). The major impression that included as the after taste characteristics are the sweet flavor, pungent, spicy, chocolatey, turpeny, carbon or charcoal like taste. There are two types of after taste: rapidly lost after taste and long finish after taste.

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