THE CUPPING PROCESS
Like wine, specialty coffees possess a seemingly endless variety of flavors and aromas. In order to fully realize the elements that make a coffee remarkable– that hint of something exotic, that fullness on the tongue, that sparkle in the palate, that lingering sweetness – we rely on a process called cupping.
Simply put, cupping is a method of systematically evaluating the smell and taste of coffee beans. At Tully’s, we exhaustively sample roast and cup hundreds of coffees so that we can select the finest from each origin, and ensure quality and consistency in every batch.
Proper cupping is performed multiple times and requires adherence to an exacting set of brewing standards and a formal step-by-step evaluation process. A trained cupper looks at six characteristics:
- The smell of ground coffee before water is added, ranging from sweet and floral, to robust and spicy.
- The smell of ground coffee after its been steeped in water. Aromas are complex and the ways they are described are endless.
- Acidity gives coffee its sparkle and life. Coffees with high acidity (like our Spirited Coffees) are bright and crisp with a clean, short, mild finish. Coffees that are low in acidity (like our Grand Coffees) have a longer, bolder finish.
- Also called “mouth-feel,” a coffee’s body is the viscosity or weight on the palate. Take a sip and rub your tongue on the roof of your mouth, then rate the coffee’s body from light to medium to full.
- The taste of the coffee in the mouth. Like a coffee’s aroma, flavors can be described countless ways.
- The flavor and effect of the coffee after swallowing. Do the aromas and flavors linger? Do they change over time? Do they fade quickly?
To help guide you to the Tully’s coffees that appeal to your senses, we’ve used the above characteristics to categorize our coffees into three distinct taste categories: Spirited, Balanced, and Grand. So the next time you enjoy a cup of Tully’s, breathe deep, let the aromas and flavors fill your senses, and take the time to savor each sip like an experienced cupper.