- Current: Our New 110 Point Cupping is a method of tasting coffee by steeping grounds in separate cups for discrete amounts of ground coffee, to reveal good flavors and defects to their fullest. It has formal elements and methodology in System (December 2008-?)
- Our Updated 100 Point Cupping System (2003-2008)
- The Original 100 Point Cupping System (through 2003)
Coffee language, grading and evaluation is very confusing. I use a combination of standard and nonstandard terms that make it even more confusing. Oddly, evaluating coffee is both technical, and personal too. There are a standard set of terms, a roast degree reference scale, and other systems that allow an exporter in USDA is (obviously) the United States Department of Agriculture. USDA also had coffee plant breeding programs in the past and one variety they distributed to Indonesia and was widely planted is called USDA (sounds like and a broker in California to understand each other. But everything is based on sensory evaluation, which can never be entirely standardized. All this takes a lot of work…
We are now using a 100-point cupping system to score coffees, and it is a bit different than the SCAA system. Six evaluative points are given equal weight to result in a range from 50-100 (under 50 would not be Specialty coffee was a term devised to mean higher levels of green coffee quality than average "industrial coffee" or "commercial coffee". At this point, the term is of limited use, since every multi-national coffee broker and we wouldn’t sell it!) The 6 criteria that are scored are essentially the same as the old 33 point scale, but their names have been modified to be more intuitively descriptive, and their order changed to reflect the cupping experience it occurs in actuality, from start to Similar to aftertaste, but it refers to the impression as the coffee leaves the palate. Aftertaste is the sensations gathered after the coffee has left the mouth. We combine these to form the "final flavor:
- 1. Summary name of coffee, as we list it on our Green coffee refers to the processed seed of the coffee tree fruit. Coffee is a flowering shrub that produces fruit. The seeds of the fruit are processed, roasted, ground and prepared as an infusion.: Coffee Offering List.
- 2. Country of Origin is where the coffee is grown in general terms. Region is a more specific area within the country. Arabica coffee grows in only in particular environments with adequate rainfall, temperate climates, good: Where the coffee is grown. Arabica refers to Coffea Arabica, the taxonomic species name of the genus responsible for around 75% of the worlds commercial coffee crop.: Arabica refers to Coffea Arabica, the taxonomic species name of the genus responsible coffee grows in only in particular environments with adequate rainfall, temperate climates, good soil (often volcanic), sufficient altitude, and roughly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.
- 3. Grade: Nearly every county of In coffee talk, it refers to a coffee-producing region or country; such as, "I was just at origin." Of course "Origin" for most product we use is not a beautiful farm in a temperate climate, has its own grading scale. It can be incredibly confusing. Sometimes the coffee earns a higher grade than it deserves, sometimes the grade is actually lowered to avoid tariffs! Central and South Americans tend to follow the SHB and SHG model (A classification used in some countries in Central America (Guatemala, Costa Rica) indicating the coffee was grown at an altitude above 1200 feet/4000 meters: In Costa Rica, a classification/grading for specialty coffee. indicates the coffees and A classification used in some countries in Central America, indicating the coffee was grown at an altitude above 1200 feet/4000 meters. Beans grown at a higher altitude, have a greater density, and thus a better indicates altitudes above 1000m). So hard beans grow at higher altitude and that’s good, right? Well, in Brazil’s grading, The highest rating in the Brazil Grading scale, based on cupping.: Brazil has its own grading system for defects in the cup - Strictly Soft is the highest grade in the schema. Hard is considered is a top grade. Many countries use a simple numeric scale. But a Grade 4 Ethiopian is the top Dry-Processed grade you’ll see (Gr.2 in washed Ethiopians), and a Grade 1 Indonesians are available as a unique wet-hulled or dry-hulled (washed) coffees. Giling Basah is the name for the wet-hulling process in Bahasa language, and will have more body and often more of the "character" that DP allows 8% defects (in fact Sumatra Grading is based on cup quality)! In essence, all should conform to the Green Coffee Classification System, but they don’t. (Look at our Coffee Library Page for an article on the subject, and you can buy the SCAA Green Coffee Classification Poster from us too).
- 4. Region: Specific name of growing region where coffee is cultivated. Regions often possess specific character, so it’s more accurate than discussing Countries of Origin: a Peruvian coffees have Central American brightness but in a South American coffee flavor package overall. The good organic lots do have more of a "rustic" coffee character.: Organic Peru ... you can get it anywhere Chanchamayo tends to be more acidy and powerful than the softer Peru Norte’s or Northerns, or Cuzco.
- 5. Mark: We use this term to include any other significant proper name that tells of the coffee’s origin. This might be an A "coffee estate" is used to imply a farm that has its own processing facility, a wet-mill. In Spanish this is called an Hacienda. A Finca (farm) does not necessarily have a mill. (And Finca name, but it can also be an Exporter, a In Kenya, a "Factory" is actually a coffee wet mill (called a washing station in other parts of Africa) where the fresh cherry is brought for wet-processing. It is called a wet mill usually, and (mill), or other recognized Trade name, as long as it actually signifies the quality of the coffee …and doesn’t just make it sound fancier than it is.
- 6. The removal of the cherry and parchment from the coffee seed.: Coffee is either wet-processed (also called washed or wet-milled) or dry-processed (also called wild, natural or natural dry, and we abbreviate it DP sometimes).: Coffee is either wet-processed (also called washed or wet-milled) or dry-processed (also called wild, natural or natural dry, and we abbreviate it DP sometimes). The type of processing is chosen to produce different cup qualities, or sometimes is just a matter of tradition, logistics or economics. In a nutshell, washed coffees are brought to a mill soon after picking, the Originally coffee literature referred to the fruit of the tree as a "berry" but in time it became a cherry. It is of course neither. Nor is the seed of the coffee a bean. All is depulped, allowed to As an aroma or flavor in coffee, ferment is a defect taste, resulting from bad processing or other factors. Ferment is the sour, often vinegar-like, that results from several possible problems. It might be the, washed to remove all pulp, laid on patios or run through an electric dryer, removed from their final skin called Green coffee still in its outer shell, before dry-milling, is called Parchment coffee (pergamino). In the wet process, coffee is peeled, fermented, washed and then ready for drying on the patio, bed, or a mechanical, and sorted. Dry -processing involves laying out the cherries on patios or roofs, and later removing the skin, pulp and parchment in one fell swoop. Dry processed coffees are more yellowish-green because there’s more On dried green bean coffee, the thin inner-parchment layer that clings to the bean and lines the crease on the flat side. Silverskin becomes chaff and falls off the bean during roasting. It is a (Chaff is paper-like skin that comes off the coffee in the roasting process. Chaff from roasting is part of the innermost skin (the silverskin) of the coffee fruit that still cling to the beans after) attached to the bean. They look rangy, but often have more Associated with and sensed by mouthfeel, body is sense of weight and thickness of the brew, caused by the percentage of soluble solids in the cup, including all organic compounds that are extracted from brewing and character in the cup.
- 7. Crop: This is the crop year the coffee was harvested and processed in, and shouldn’t be a primary consideration in buying a green coffee. Even the more unstable high acid coffees see little change stored properly for 1 year …and most are fine for 18 months or so. Obsess about the freshness of your roasted coffee, not the age of your green coffee. Sometimes, a crop can indicate a better “vintage,” such as my secret 2 lb stash of La Tacita Guatemalan from 1996-97.
- 8. Appearance: This is an informal scoring of the Number of Defects per 300 gram sample (2d/300g = 2 defects) and is scored by the Specialty Coffee Association of Americas Green Coffee Classification System in most cases. It should communicate the quality of the Preparation refers to the dry-milling steps of preparing coffee for export: hulling, grading, classifying, sorting.: Preparation refers to the dry-milling steps of preparing coffee for export: hulling, grading, classifying, sorting. Sorting means using density sorters and Coffee is sorted by size, density, and color in its preparation for export.: Sorting refers to several steps performed in the preparation of coffee for export. Coffee is sorted by size on a grader or of the coffee, but doesn’t directly indicate the “cup quality,” which is the most important rating of coffee. A zero In coffee, a defect refers to specific preparation problems with the green coffee, or a flavor problem found in the cupping process. Bad seeds in the green coffee sample are termed defects, and scored against score doesn’t mean that your 5 lbs. will have no defective beans either! The second number is Screen Size, expressed as 14/16 scr, or 18 scr. Once again, bigger isn’t better, and small beans of varied screen size can make for a great cup too (i.e.: Yemeni coffee).
- 9. Varietal: Varietal does NOT refer to region …its about the botanical Hibrido de Timor abbreviated HdT is the interspecies hybrid of C. Arabica and C. Canephora (Robusta) that was found in Timor Leste in the 1940s. It has been the bases of plant breeding for disease (or cultivar) of the coffee tree. It’s not easy information to gather, and has some bearing on the cup but not a lot. Ideally, coffee is grown using old arabica varietals such as A coffee cultivar; a cross between Typica and Bourbon, originally grown in Brazil: Mundo Novo is a commercial coffee cultivar; a natural hybrid between "Sumatra" and Red Bourbon, originally grown in Brazil. It was developed and Typica, or Kent in S-795 is a variety based on the " S-Line" coffees of India, and stands for Selection 795, It has a very fine cup, one of the best in Indonesia, but is not a high volume. Controversial varietals such as Riuri 11 in Kenya is the East African powerhouse of the coffee world. Both in the cup, and the way they run their trade, everything is topnotch.: Kenya is the East African powerhouse of the coffee world. Both other high-yield, disease resistant hybrids can produce a diminished cup, but growing conditions and processing play such a greater role than the varietal.
- (10-16) Cupping Form Ratings: I use the international standard cupping measurements (7.25 grams coffee to 150 ml water @ 195 d) and my own modified cupping forms to rate all coffee samples I receive …before I consider purchasing them. I then evaluate them again after they arrive to refamiliarize myself. Coffee folks who don’t cup are going to be buying on name and price alone, and they will probably end up with the lesser coffees from a particular crop. Beyond knowing”this n’that” name for every region, there’s a more discriminating judge of coffee quality: your senses! I present this information with much trepidation: it’s not right to reduce the taste of coffee to a set of numbers in terms of retailing it. You’d be wrong to compare a lower overall score of a neat Honduran Marcala to a high score of a Kenya AA Estate coffee; they are two different cups completely, both with their own distinct pleasures. Then again, it would be appropriate to compare Ethiopian Ghimbi vs. Harar, or washed Limmu vs. washed Yirgacheffe. But please remember, overall score cannot be blindly trusted!
- Please don’t mock my category names …I know that Body Movement is …um… odd-sounding, and A euphemistic term we use often to describe acidity in coffee. A bright coffee has more high, acidic notes. : A euphemistic term to describe acidity in coffee. A bright coffee has more high, acidic Another euphemistic term to describe acidity in coffee. A lively coffee has more high, acidic notes. Not to be confused with the brighter roast flavors of light roast levels, such as City to City+ roasts. is a little embarrassing, but these are the descriptive ratings as they occur over time in your mouth as you taste, and describing an acidy coffee as “Lively” is fairly accurate!
- 10. In the cupping procedure for tasting and scoring coffee, this is the smell of the dry, ground coffee before hot water is added. The term fragrance is used since it is normally applied to things: Refers to the Aroma refers to sensations perceived by the olfactory bulb and conveyed to the brain; whether through the nose or "retro-nasally": The aromatics of a coffee greatly influence its flavor profile and come from the perception of the dry ground coffee before hot water is added. Possible score is 50 to 100.
- 11. In cupping, wet aroma refers to the smell of wet coffee grinds, after hot water is added. It can involve smelling the "crust" (floating coffee grounds) on the coffee, as well as "breaking the crust",: Fragrance is the smell of dry freshly-ground coffee. Aroma is the smell of wet coffee grinds, after the 150 ml water is added. Possible score is 50 to 100.
- 12. Brightness/Liveliness (Acidity is a positive flavor attribute in coffee, also referred to as brightness or liveliness. It adds a brilliance to the cup, whereas low acid coffees can seem flat. Acidity can sound unattractive. People may): Acidity is the taste of sharp high notes in the coffee caused by a set of Chlorogenic Many acids contribute to coffee flavor: acetic, malic, citric, quinic, tartaric, phosphoric, etc.: Many acids contribute to coffee flavor; malic, citric, quinic, tartaric, phosphoric, etc. See Acidity or specific acids. While acids in coffee sounds, sensed mostly in the front of the mouth and tongue. (It is a good quality; NOT related to bitterness in coffee, and NOT directly responsible for upset stomach!). Possible score is 50 to 100.
- 13. Body/Movement: Often called How a coffee feels in the mouth or its apparent texture, a tactile sensation : A major component in the flavor profile of a coffee, it is a tactile sensation in the mouth used in, body is sense of weight and thickness of the brew, caused by the percentage of soluble solids in the cup including all Grown without the use of artificial fertilizers, herbicides, etc.: Organic coffee has been grown according to organic farming techniques, typically without the use of artificial fertilizers. Some farms have more local Organic Certification than the compounds that is extracted from coffee in brewing and ends up in the cup. (You can see how brewing method and amount of ground coffee used influences this greatly). Possible score is 50 to 100.
- 14. Flavor/Depth: This is the overall impression in the mouth, including the above ratings as well as tastes that come from the roast. There are 4 “Primary Tastes” groupings (Sour is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter (and possibly a 5th called Umami which indicates savory flavors). In coffee, sourness in moderate amounts of favorable, although the, Sweet ,Salty is one of four basic sapid (in the mouth) tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter (and possibly a 5th called Umami which indicates savory flavors). In coffee, saltiness is not usually a positive quality, but, Bitterness is one of 5 basic tastes: Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter and Umami (savory flavors). There are many types of bitterness, hence not one avenue to tracking down its source. Bitterness as a positive quality) and many “Secondary Tastes,” as you can see on the Tasters A term that probably refers to the SCAA Flavor Wheel, an analysis tool adapted from the wine industry. (Actually the Beer wheel came before the Wine wheel) Half of it is dedicated to chiefly negative,. Possible score is 50 to 100
- 15. Finish/Conclusion: The lingering tastes or emerging tastes that come after the mouth is cleared. Possible score is 50 to 100.
- 16. Score: Okay …here’s how the above numbers are scored: all 6 are added and averaged: simple! But the tragedy is that you cannot really compare a final score to rate the overall quality of a coffee! Why? Some coffees are light-bodied. They will score 80 in body, but that does not detract from their overall cup quality! However, with an 80 score it will never be one of the high scoring coffees on our list. Not fair! But I expect readers to understand the caveat of the overall score.
Question: Why are all our reviews in the 80’s with a few 90’s???
Answer: Well, we have good coffee! We do a lot of cupping to weed out coffees that would score in the 70’s overall. Anything lower would not be Specialty Coffee! We are very stingy with scores in the 90’s, so the range of most very high quality coffees happens to be the 80’s!
- 17. Notes: This is where I get to make up for the shortcomings of the grading numbers. I would pay more attention to this box than any other. If it sounds like I praise everything, that’s true: these are the coffees I picked from many samples that I wouldn’t even take the time to write about. For these coffees, my cupping forms are peppered with insightful comments like “EH”, “BLAH,” “YUCK”, and the most common one, “UGH!”
- 18. Roast Recommendations: For a guy that’s tired of the “Full City” mantra, you’ll see a lot of recommendations for “Full City.” It’s easy to say “roast this coffee to it’s absolute peak of flavor, where all good qualities are present and all bad compounds have been volatilized.” It’s harder to do. That’s why anyone can roast, but it takes time and a desire to pay attention to find what you think is the best roast for a coffee. So, like all things written here, this box contains my opinion, the only one I can give without standing you next to me at my Diedrich 12 Kilo roaster and saying “Look ….that’s what I mean.”
- 19. Compare To: Here you will find another attempt to force you NOT to compare the “Overall” scores, and compare coffee to others in their “Family of Taste.” Recognizing a quality that you like in a coffee should help you define which coffee “Family” you prefer, or which you might want to avoid …unless you’re like me and prefer everything!
- 20. Buy it: We added this because customers really wanted the buttons right by the reviews …
- A-D: Issues of Origin: Many in the coffee trade, myself included, take the growing conditions that give birth to our wonderful coffee seriously. Traditional methods of coffee cultivation were organic, and shade-grown (amazingly headlined in 1930s Chase & Sandborn coffee ads!) and these methods result in a higher quality coffee that matures slowly on a plant that isn’t overstressed. Indulgence in the luxury of good coffee should come with some gratitude for the farmers whose labor make it possible But unfortunately we have had trouble adding all these little logos to our reviews lately. So if it says Organic, or Co-op or Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach to empowering developing country producers and promoting sustainability.: Fair trade is an organized social movement and market-based approach to empowering developing country producers and promoting in the name, you will know. Almost all Organic is A somewhat ambiguous term used to describe coffee grown under shade. Shade grown coffee is said to better preserve animal habitats and avoid mono-culture on farms, but the truth of this may depend on the …in fact Organic really covers the rest of the certifications pretty well!
- A. Co-op Grown: This means that small-scale farmers (the majority of coffee is grown on small unincorporated farms) have banded together to form a growing, milling or selling co-op (or all three).
- B. Eco-Certified: This means a coffee farm has been inspected and passed some form or organic certification, and the coffee is grown without chemical pesticides, herbicides or fungicides.
- C. Fair Trade: This means that the coffee was purchased outside of the commodities market at a prearranged price that was better than what the farmer could have hoped for through normal distribution channels. Note that, since Organic and Shade-grown coffees demand a premium, they are in essence fairly-traded.
- D. Shade-Grown: This means the coffee trees are grown under a forest canopy, or interplanted with protective shade trees. This provides a more bio-diverse and bird-friendly ecology.
- PLEASE NOTE THAT WE OFTEN FAIL TO INCLUDE THE PROPER SYMBOLS ABOVE WITH OUR COFFEE DESCRIPTION. MANY COFFEES NOT MARKED CO-OP INDEED ARE GROWN BY FARMER CO-OPS. MANY ARE SHADE-GROWN BUT UNCERTIFIED. ALL COFFEES LISTED ORGANIC ARE CERTIFIED ORGANIC, AND WE KEEP SKAL, OCIA AND QAI CERTIFICATES ON HAND AT THE SHOP. IF IN DOUBT, PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL AND ASK…