How to Cup Coffee & Improve Your Palate

Whether you’re a roaster, barista, or consumer, learning how to cup will enrich your coffee experience.

Roasters, this is a vital skill for you: how else will you evaluate your beans and roasts? Baristas, you need to cup to purchase coffees. And coffee drinkers, you don’t need to learn how to cup – but I guarantee that you’ll appreciate your coffee more if you do. You’ll understand the intricacies of the flavours. You’ll be able to detect the roast, the origin, and even the impact of the processing method.

You’ll never drink a coffee in the same way again.

I’m the Head Roaster of Cloud Picker Coffee, so cupping is second nature to me. I’m here to explain how to do it – and how to improve at it.


Leave Your Preconceptions Behind

The first thing we need to do, even before we prepare the cupping table, is make sure we have the right mindset.

Maybe you, like me, prefer light roasts over dark roasts. Many specialty lovers do: it’s much like preferring your steak rare or medium rare over well done. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a well done steak on occasion – or a dark roast. We just have to accept it for what it is.

Don’t drink that coffee thinking “This is a dark roast and so I will only taste that roast”. Instead, be open to the flavours.

As a coffee enthusiast, I judge every single cup I drink. That doesn’t mean deciding which ones are “no good”. It means being genuinely interested in what that coffee has to offer.

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