Cupping

Thanks for ordering our inaugural Limited Release pack!

Included you will find both a washed and natural process lot from the same farm - El Aguila in El Salvador.

To get the most out the experience of comparing these two lots - and thus tasting the effect post-harvest processing has on flavour - we recommend ‘cupping’ the coffees simultaneously. This is the industry standard for assessing coffees before and after export - you’re now part of a long and complex supply chain!

You will need:

  • Scales accurate to 1g
  • A burr grinder
  • Three matching cups or glasses
  • Two spoons
  • A timer
  • Water
  • A kettle
  • Delicious coffee!

Steps:

  1. Find two cups or glasses that hold the same quantity of water, between 180 and 240mL.
  2. We will use a ratio of 60g/L of coffee to water, calculate how much coffee you need per cup based on the quantity of water they hold (e.g. for a 200mL cup we would use 12g of coffee - 0.2L x 60g).
  3. Weigh and grind each coffee into your cups - the washed into one cup and the natural into the other. Grind size is very dependant on your grinder and other variables - but we suggest starting with something in-between castor and raw sugar.
  4. Boil your water.
  5. Whilst your water is boiling take the time to smell each coffee - going back and forth - noticing any similarities and differences.
  6. Once your water is boiled start a 4 minute timer and pour the water over the grounds, somewhat aggressively (so all the coffee is wetted). Fill to the top of the cup or, if you like, weigh the water (maintaining our 60g/L ratio).
  7. Whilst the coffee is steeping take the time to again smell each cup - the aroma will have changed!
  8. Place your two spoons in another cup/glass and pour in some hot water - these will be used for skimming the coffee and tasting.
  9. Once the timer is complete we need to ‘break’ the crust on each cup - take one of your spoons and gently push it through the grounds (just deep enough to break through the crust) - smell deeply as you’re doing this - then repeat the process two more times.
  10. Repeat for the second cup (once again noticing similarities and differences in aroma).
  11. The majority of grounds should have sunk. Now use both spoons simultaneously to ‘skim’ the foam from the surface of the cups (this is a little fiddly - don’t stress about how well you do this - it doesn’t really matter).
  12. Unfortunately now we have to wait for the coffees to cool! If you taste coffee when it is too hot you won’t get the complete, transparent and complex tasting experience - it’s also dangerous!
  13. Once the coffee cups are cool enough to touch it is time to taste! Use your spoon to taste the coffee - like you would for hot soup. You can aerate the coffee as you slurp it if you feel game - but you don’t need to.
  14. Taste back and forth between each coffee, noticing both how the coffees taste (sweet, sour, bitter) and the aromas you can pick up (chocolate, nuts, fruit). Take a break every few minutes so you don’t develop palate fatigue.
  15. Enjoy!

Tips:

  • If you find the coffees are somewhat weak/sour/watery then the coffee may be under-extracted, grind finer next time.
  • If you find the coffees bitter/astringent/bland the coffee may be over-extracted, grind coarser next time.
  • Don’t feel you have to stand on ceremony - once you’ve tasted the coffees feel free to grab the cups and drink. (Just watch those grounds at the bottom!)
  • Tasting comparatively like this is a great way to notice subtleties in similar things and develop your palate at the same time! Try applying this technique to other beverages you enjoy like tea, beer or wine.

We hope you enjoy these coffees and the experience of 'cupping’ them and invite you to contact us with any feedback you may have! If you’d like to enter the draw to win a pack of our next Limited Release please share your experience on social media with a photo, the tag @monasterycoffee and any hashtags your heart desires!

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