If coffee cupping is so important, there has to be a coffee cupping guideline, right? Right! The Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) does have an evaluation process and form recommended to evaluate coffees when cupping. Coffees are scored with a rating system that goes up to 100 which would be the most perfect cup of coffee (it doesn’t exist, although we’ve tasted some darn good ones). Specialty coffee, like what Peritus offers, all scores between 80 and 100.
Coffees are scored in ten different areas in order to reach a coffee score. The summation gives the overall score of the coffee. The purpose of coffee scoring is so that people around the world can talk on a relative scale (i.e. 89 coffee) and understand each other. In fact, around the world, there are calibration events where coffee evalutators can go and “get calibrated” with other people around the world so the ratings stay consistent and people talk similarly. The real experience comes in when you are ranking against coffees across origins!
As mentioned, there are ten areas a coffee is ranked to get it’s score. In a true SCAA sample cupping you do five cups of the same coffee for uniformity:
- Fragrance and aroma (dry and wet)
- Flavor (first time you taste it when it’s hot)
- Aftertaste (after swallowing, retronasal)
- Acidity (after it cools slightly)
- Uniformity cup-to-cup (Specialty coffee should always rank 10 here, otherwise docked points)
- Clean cup-to-cup (Specialty coffee should always rank 10 here, otherwise docked points)
- Sweetness cup-to-cup (Specialty coffee should always rank 10 here, otherwise docked points)
- Overall impression
One other area that isn’t in the ranking but will get you docked points is coffee defects. Any taints or faults that come through in the cup (i.e. fermented) will lose points. See a list of common green coffee defects in our previous blog.
When you are done, you total up the score. Specialty coffee falls in the 80-100 range. Most of the coffee beans Peritus carries are in the 86-92 range. We find those beans to be quite favorable and in our experience, anything above that gets too expensive for consumers typical price point. Read more on the SCAA Cupping Protocols on their website!