When we set about choosing some new coffees, we will ‘cup’ a number of samples beforehand. The cupping process is a standardised method of tasting coffee, used throughout the coffee world from farm to an ever increasing number of baristas. The aim is treat each coffee the same, giving each one a fair opportunity to shine. As we cup the coffees we score a variety of aspects including aroma, fragrance, flavour, sweetness, body and acidity. This process will result in each coffee will be given a score out of 100.
We use the same process when we begin roasting a new coffee, allowing us to determine the best roast profile; we also keep samples of our roasting which we cup to ensure consistency on a week to week basis.
This week we’re watching with interest the Cup of Excellence Competition in El Salvador, which is taking place between 29th April and the 3rd May. Judges from around the world will be slurping their way through some amazing coffees, scoring each one out of 100, with those scoring 85 or more becoming classed as Cup of Excellence.
The competition is very vigorous – those being awarded ‘Cup of Excellence’ status will have been cupped at least 5 times by some very talented tasters. These coffees will then go forward to an auction in June – in general Cup of Excellence coffees sell for a considerably higher price, with some having broken records in recent years. This allows the winning farms to invest in improving quality even further, as well as new equipment, more workers, schooling for their children or even a well-earned break.
The following extract from the Cup of Excellence site sums up the impact of the program:
Winning the Cup of Excellence always changes the life of a coffee farmer. He or she is a star and for that one nervous, exhilarating moment is applauded and proud walking up on the stage and accepting the applause, knowing that their hard work, attention to detail, maybe their very livelihood is being recognized as important to the entire country. Some are very shy never having been in any kind of public spotlight. Many are humble country folk – and this is evident as they shake hands with an ambassador, the vice president or even the president of a country, their expression clearly showing the huge elation of winning.
Being selected as one of the winners at Cup of Excellence means recognition and reward for the grower. Cup of Excelence has been a springboard for many growers and has secured longterm relationship with international buyers which, in turn, allows for further investment in the farm and brings security for familes and communities.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how we cup coffees, we’ll be holding a public cupping session at our Roastery on Monday 6th May at 10.30 a.m.