How to Taste Coffee


Coffee cupping is like wine tasting -- but for coffee. Rows of coffee cups are lined up, and tasters use spoons to slurp the brew, noting their impressions of taste, acidity, aftertaste, and body (that last one is the "weight" of the coffee, meaning how light, heavy, and/or creamy it might be). This process is how coffee producers grade and describe their coffee -- but it's also becoming a thing you can do at a local coffee shop. Here in Portland, Stumptown hosts daily cupping events. I have to admit -- I like my coffee weak and full of sugar, so I haven't participated. But this is a fairly sophisticated practice akin to wine tasting that actually sounds kind of fun...if you're into coffee.

This short video from NPR shows a cupping event in Baltimore (through audio and still photographs) so you can get a taste of the action. Best line? "You're gonna want to think of yourself as a human vacuum" says the instructor, explaining how to slurp properly.

Coffee Is The New Wine. Here's How You Taste It from NPR on Vimeo.

Have You Been to a Coffee Cupping?

I'd like to hear what it's like -- and whether I would survive Stumptown's morning ritual.