Typica: Software for Coffee Roasting Operations

When cupping coffees, consistency is incredibly important. If you're evaluating pre-purchase samples you want to make sure that you're roasting those coffees consistently so that differences that you observe in the cup are due to differences in the coffee and not differences in how those coffees were roasted. If you're evaluating multiple roast levels for product development, you want to make sure that the differences that you're tasting are due to differences in how the coffee was roasted and not differences in how the coffee was extracted. For any evaluation along these lines, having at least a company standard that is executed consistently is important for getting reliably useful observations from those evaluations and for having the ability to compare those observations with results from similar past evaluation sessions. I've written previously about figuring out what those standards should be.

Don't pour water on your cups like this.

Part of a consistent setup for cupping involves using the same amount of coffee and the same amount of water in each cup. Water is easy. You just make sure that all of your cups are the same volume and you fill those cups all the way to the top (but not more than all the way to the top). With the coffee, however, volume measurements are not as reliable, which is why it's widely recommended for any kind of coffee brewing that you measure the coffee by weight. For example, with the cups that I use for cupping I get my best quality observations with 12 grams of coffee.

When visiting other coffee companies or watching people set up cupping sessions in classes, I often see coffee weighed out in about the least efficient way possible. They'll put a cupping bowl on the scale, wait for the scale to settle, tare the scale, and measure coffee directly into the cup. Then they'll set that cup aside as finished, grab the next cup, wait for the scale to settle, but chances are good that there's some small variation in the weight of the cup so the scale needs to be tared again.

If you used the same cup to measure the coffee and then poured the coffee into the other cups, you can skip a lot of the waiting between cups. Personally, I like to use a short metal measuring cup with a stubby handle (long handled measuring cups tend to tip over) that's light weight, large enough to easily get the coffee into the cup, and easy to quickly pour the coffee into the cupping bowls. This change might not seem like a big difference, but if you take a stop watch and measure the time it takes to weigh out a set of coffees you'll notice a significant improvement.

If you have a larger scale, you can work even more efficiently by weighing multiple cups at a time. In my example, I'm using 12 grams, so if I can fit five cups for a standard protocol cupping on the scale at the same time, I can pour coffee in the first cup until I hit 12 grams, then move on to the second cup until I'm at 24 grams, 36 grams for cup 3, 48 grams on cup 4, and when all five cups are filled, the scale should show 60 grams. Your weights might be different if you're using different cups, but the same technique can be applied. If you can fit a carrying tray under those cups and still read the scale, that's even better.