Coffee Cupping - going beyond the value chain

Whilst most coffee drinkers haven’t been to a coffee cupping, it’s significance remains synonymous with the increasing popularity of the specialty coffee industry. Many coffee shops, cafes and roasteries are beginning to host events, allowing coffee lovers to taste an savour new single origins, blends and connect with the producers. For specialty coffee drinkers, such events are priceless opportunities to gain knowledge and understanding. As for coffee shops and roasteries, it’s a great way to increase exposure and further educate the consumer of specialty coffee.

Agri Evolve coffee producers

We have our first public coffee cupping of the year on the 6th April, where we’ll be joined by Agri Evolve, the supplier of our Uganda single origins. The evening will allow Agri Evolve to outline their role in the Uganda coffee industry, tell stories of the producers and discuss the future of coffee from the nation. In light of the upcoming event, we’re going delve further into the formalities of coffee cupping, it’s significance within the industry and why its worth investing in.

What is coffee cupping?

The Specialty Coffee Association published the first text on cupping in 1984, Coffee Cuppers Hand Book. The book revolutionised the craft of cupping from varying degrees of personal subjectivity to a “science”, based on a coffee’s physical chemistry. The book outlines a specific arabica cupping form and the protocols required to execute a tasting to ensure uniformity and consistency.

Black coffee

Cupping is a formality withing specialty coffee which allows us to compare coffees against one another, evaluate quality and the potential of a given roast. The method allows us to gain an unfiltered perspective of the coffee.

Coffee is ground; added to ‘cupping bowls’, brewed for 4 minutes; the crust gets broken with a spoon whilst inhaling the aroma; the bowls are cleared of grounds and the slurping begins. This is a basic outline of the coffee cupping process, it’s important that the same method is used each time to ensure consistency and uniformity with the final cup. The basic immersion-in-a-cup method means everyone around the world uses the exact same method. It’s the easiest, most consistent way to taste and evaluate coffee.

This is essential practice for coffee roasters. The general, visual appearance of coffee does not act as the precursor for ‘quality coffee’. Uniformity and taste defects are undetectable with the naked eye, so these type of contaminations need to be identified with cupping. The process is undertaken by everyone in the value chain; roasters, importers in the consuming countries, and exporters in the producing countries cup and evaluate the coffee. We believe the education and accessibility to cupping must extend beyond the current value chain and into the direct consumer.  

Making coffee accessible

Educating, raising awareness, accessibility are the pillars to developing the popularity of specialty coffee within our community. Roasting and having a space to serve specialty coffee has provided a platform to further showcase the quality of single origin coffee and reach the consumer directly. Communicating the producer’s story to our consumer encompasses our green coffee purchasing philosophy.

Specialty coffee barista

There’s no better way to extend our reach than hosting a coffee cupping with specialty coffee drinkers. It provides an opportunity for the consumer to engage directly with the value chain, truly understand the story behind the coffee and practice in the formalities of scoring the quality of specialty coffee. We believe breaking down the formalities are paramount and curating a space for people to question and be curious. Creating quality for the consumer is the ultimate goal of the supply chain. Cupping together is a great way to hear everyone’s varying opinions of body, aroma and flavour.

Coffee can be used to break down barriers with ridged consumer habits through increased education, product awareness and accessibility. It’s the responsibility of the supply chain to illustrate transparency and traceability. We want to create a community of conscious consumers; hosting events and opening an invitation to our current and future customers is a step towards that vision.

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