- There is a standard roast profile for cupping.
The SCAA standard roast degree for cupping coffee is Agtron 58 for whole bean and Agtron 63 for ground coffee and the roast should be done within 8-12 minutes. This “standard” leaves a lot of room for error. To cup coffee that has been roasted for 8 minutes next to the same one that has been roasted for 12 minutes will yield quite different results. While it is very helpful to have this “standard” for cupping for quality, it is not the end all of cupping itself.
- Cuppers can tell what country the coffee is from.
While many experienced cuppers can make very educated guesses as to what the origin of the coffee is just by cupping the coffee, this is not an exact science. Recently in the “Let’s Talk Coffee 2014” promotional video for Geisha coffee it was confessed by a very prominent green coffee buyer that he was fooled when he first discovered Geisha coffee and that it could not possibly have come from Panama. Any cupper who says that he or she can tell you exactly where the coffee is from is really only guessing.
- All roasters cup coffee.
This is a bait assumption, but I will use this as a platform to say that all roasters SHOULD cup coffee. Cupping is the only way to find out whether the roasting is done properly. If it is a light roast, or a dark roast, the coffee needs to be cupped to ensure that the profile is still valid. While the coffee does not need to be cupped after every single roast, it is a very good idea to cup every day as to ensure the best quality of the product.
- You have to wait a day after roasting to cup coffee.
With the time that it takes for coffee to de-gas, it is advisable to wait a few hours before you cup your coffee. This is not 100% necessary though. You can always do what we call a “down and dirty” cupping where you roast the coffee, cool it down and go to town. I would advise that if you are to cup this way, you should also cup the coffee the next day to see the difference that happens as the coffee degasses.
- Cupping coffee is hard.
If you want to work in coffee, learn how to cup. Just like anything else, learning a new skill takes time. Cupping coffee is easy. It just takes concentration and a good vocabulary. Over time noticing different flavor attributes becomes natural to the cupper. Practice makes perfect and luckily the pleasure of cupping is in the practice.