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Tasting Guide

The Art of Coffee Cupping

What does your favourite coffee taste like? Would you prefer it bold or delicate? A bit of acidity or smooth? Fruited or spicy? When you look forward to enjoying a cup and trying different beans but these questions come up and you have no idea how to answer, developing a more refined coffee palate can help.

Having a better appreciation for the multitude of subtle taste differences and experiencing a whole new world of flavours and aromas are the basics of coffee cupping. It can be very complicated and involve a lot of technical terms and complex analysis. However, we suggest a more simple and homely approach.

Basically, cupping involves sniffing the coffee and actually sipping it to taste the flavor. Sounds like something you could do, right? Then you would analyse and take notes of how it feels in your mouth, its sweetness, acidity, flavour and aftertaste. You can use familiar terms and simple language to describe your experience, it does not need to be fancy. Remember, the references are for yourself and nobody else (well, maybe your barista or coffee supplier, but they will get it).

Tasting Guide : Welcome

Here is an easy guide to start cupping at home

What you need:


  • Grinder and scale (you can use pre ground coffee, it just will not be as intense)

  • Cupping glasses (better if you can see through but any cup works)

  • Spoons (soup style or the deepest one you have)

  • Kettle

  • Coffee beans (around 10g of each)

  • Tasting Cards (we have created simple tasting cards for documenting your findings and keeping your own coffee journal. Available with all coffee orders with no extra cost) 

  • and a pen

What to do:

Choose your beans, weight and grind them to a medium-coarse setting. Just after grinding, evaluate the aroma and fragrance, once held by the oils inside the bean and now broken down, for that vivid coffee smell experience.

See if you can identify any or some of these categories:

  1. Floral

  2. Fruity

  3. Herbal

  4. Nutty

  5. Caramel

  6. Chocolatey

  7. Spicy

  8. Smoky


Brew it adding boiling water (around 150ml) on top of the coffee grounds in each cup and let it set for four minutes. Use the back of a spoon to break through the "crust" formed on top of coffee, this will release new aromas, make sure to take another sniff. Start with lightest roasted coffee available and work your way to the darker ones (with stronger roast the coffee loses some of its sweetness, aroma and delicate flavours, picking up more caramel, chocolate and smoky flavours). 

​​Taste time!

Take a spoonful of the coffee and slurp it. Some descriptions are tart, tangy, nippy, mild, delicate, soft, rough, astringent, harsh, and pungent.

See if you can identify any or some of these categories:

  1. Sweet

  2. Salt

  3. Bitter

  4. Sour


After checking the taste, analyse the body of coffee. It is an indication of the oil content, from thin to light to heavy, determined by its mouth feel. A heavy body is comparable to whole milk while a light body is similar to skimmed milk. It may feel buttery, thick, syrupy, watery, winy, and more.


Next on the list is checking for acidity. The dry, bright taste which usually determines the coffee’s overall character: lively, subdued, flat, round, sharp, tart, dry, crisp, sour, and so on. It is felt on the tongue, not in the stomach.

​The aftertaste is the lingering remnant of the aroma and flavour elements in the back of your palate. Can you identify one or more of them? Does it leave a bitterness or is there a pleasant lasting flavour?

Tip: When coffee cools down the flavours can change, so it is interesting to taste it a few more times and compare your own results and experience. Also rate each component strength you can find from one to five so you will have better comparing data sets between beans.


Happy tasting!


We are curious to know how you did! Was it a fun experience to slurp, ponder and speculate? Did you have friends or family over to taste with you? Comparing notes and opinions can add extra joy.

Tasting Guide : Text
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