Coffee Cupping: Understanding the Basics

Girl cupping coffee, wooden table with white coffee cups in background

A good cup of coffee can take you on a journey. When you enjoy Level Ground coffee, you’re not only going on a journey back to the coffee’s origins but also a journey for your senses as you drink it.

Man smelling coffee in small, white cupping mugs covering table

Most specialty coffee roasters regularly perform coffee cupping to ensure consistent coffee quality. One that pleases all of your senses, not just your taste buds. If you’ve never heard of coffee cupping, we’ll share what it is, and why and how we do it.

What Is Coffee Cupping?

Coffee cupping is a method used to grade the quality of coffee and the many differences between types of coffee.

Put more simply, if you’re familiar with wine tastings, coffee cupping is a similar idea. Several different coffees are tasted and assessed on a variety of aspects, such as aroma, sweetness, freshness, acidity, “mouthfeel” aka how it feels in the mouth, and if there’s any aftertaste.

Why Is Coffee Cupping Done?

Cupping is done to note the subtle differences between the various types of coffees. You may not realize how many different aromas and flavours are in each type of bean and blend until you participate in a cupping. Undernotes of cocoa, berries, citrus, and other unique distinctive flavours often come to the forefront when you take the time to smell and taste. It can be an incredible experience to taste the diversity between the beans from different regions, farmers, and crops.

Flavour comes not only from the bean itself but also the weather, soil, and altitude it’s grown in, as well as the processing and transporting of the beans. Not to mention the roasting, grinding, and type of brewing method used for the beans. There are tons of factors. Even the water you use can affect the ultimate taste in a brewed cup of coffee! This is another reason why coffee cupping is essential. 

Cupping regularly means you can make sure the standard is upheld through every point of processing. When we speak of standards, in our case, we’re specifically referring to the Specialty Coffee Association (SCA) standards for cupping, which we follow. That way, you can always ensure the coffee you get is the best it can be and exactly what you’re expecting.

How Is Coffee Cupping Done?

Each company has different protocols for their cupping practices. But most cup on a regular basis to keep up their high standards of quality (although, Level Ground does daily cuppings!).

At Level Ground, each cup of coffee is brewed the same way. We use the same water at the same temperature and brew via filter at the same time during each cupping so we can ensure that there’s no variation and our standards are met. The coffee is cooled slightly to allow the flavours to come through before we taste them blind. Two spoons are used — one goes into the cup of coffee and the other into the mouth of the taster. Then, the coffee is most often spit out after the senses take in the entire flavour profile because dozens of coffees (and sometimes, even more!) are often tasted in one sitting. That’s a lot of caffeine!

Wooden table with french presses, coffee cupping mugs
Man pouring brewed coffee from french press into mugs for cupping

Come Experience Our Coffee With Us!

As we mentioned, we cup coffee daily to continually meet our high quality standards, and so we can ensure each cup tells its full story from growth right through to brewing.

If you’d like to experience our coffees, we’d love to have you! We offer both guided and unguided coffee flights in our tasting room and, on request, can accommodate bigger groups for a genuine coffee cupping. Contact us for more information or stop by our tasting room today.


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