So…what is cupping and why are cup scores important to me as a coffee drinker?
Cupping is simple; it consists of pouring hot water over ground coffee and then evaluating it based on its aroma and flavor. In order to evaluate all coffees fairly, we use precisely ground and uniformly weighed coffee, water at the perfect temperature, and even special tasting spoons. All these factors create a process in which we evaluate new coffee beans. Once we locate beans that fit our criteria from a sample, micro-lots are sourced and delivered to our roastery.
While there are a variety of scoring systems, the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) every coffee bean gets a score out of 100. Scoring is judged on aroma, flavor, aftertaste, acidity, body, uniformity, balance, cleanliness of cup, sweetness & an overall impression score. Negative points are given for things like defects. Here’s why cup scores matter to you.
65 – 80 = Commodity Coffee The type used to make supermarket coffee, blends and instant. You won’t see cup scores on the packaging.
80+ = Specialty Coffee The flavors are more subtle, the cup more balanced.
90+ = Presidential Award These prestigious coffees make up less than 1% of the specialty coffee market, they’re just that rare.
The ten scoring categories are made up of aroma, flavor, aftertaste, acidity, body, uniformity, balance, cleanliness of cup, sweetness & an overall impression score.
Any coffees scoring 80 plus points are guaranteed to come from ethical sources, where human rights & the environment are respected & farmers & workers get a good deal. The story behind the beans will be transparent, so you can trace the origins & know about the farmers, their plots & the micro-climates where your beans were nurtured.
After all the cupping and scoring are finished, the purchasing decisions made, and the coffee is roasted, packaged, and shipped!
How is the Quality Score of a coffee decided?
There are lots of different types of sweetness in coffee; fruit, honey and sugar are three examples. The more distinct and pleasant, the higher the score.
Acidity can be malic (apple), tartaric (grapes) or citric, for a high score the acidity won’t be overwhelming.
We all know coffee can be bitter but the bitterness can often be pleasant. The best coffees have a perfect balance of bitterness and sweetness.
Coffees all have a slightly different viscosity. Think of the difference between the feel of butter, juice and tea in your mouth, if consistent, they all have their own merits.
All of the above happen in your mouth, but when you taste anything there’s also usually a lot going on behind your nose. A high-Quality Score will reflect well-developed flavors, which might include peach, chocolate, cherry, blueberry and even Earl Grey tea.
How do Cold Blooded’s coffees score?
Cold Blooded Coffee & Roastery only sources coffees of 84 plus and as high as 87 on regularly stocked coffees. 88-90’s are offered on special occasion as available.