The Five Key Elements in Evaluating Coffee

For coffee experts, the different components of coffee are evaluated for many reasons. It may be to explore their preferred coffee’s origin, have a complete understanding of your preferred coffee in terms of its profile, or simply to boost their palate.

Evaluating coffee goes through a process called coffee cupping. Basically this is the process of adding hot water into a cup or a glass of freshly ground coffee. Coffee cupping allows in-depth comparison and distinguishes the qualities of the coffee variants from the countries or regions in the world where it came from.

To understand the basics, it is important to be familiar with the five key elements to consider when evaluating coffee:

  1. AROMA
  2. More than just a scent, aroma makes coffee drinking an experience. For coffee lovers, you will know this is as the universal ‘morning scent’ – what forces the majority of us to get up and fuels us to start the day right. It is expressed in countless ways – flowery, caramel, fresh bread, citrusy, and more. What you smell before the coffee is brewed is also called its fragrance. It is also interesting to know that the aroma is more pronounced if the coffee is first ground.

  4. In this context, the coffee’s acidity refers to the quality of sensory experience and not the one you sometimes feel in the pit of your stomach. It is that ‘tickle’ felt in the tongue when you take the first sip. The acidity determines the coffee’s overall character: whether the coffee is subdued, tart, sharp, dry, and so on.

  6. Also called the ‘body’, the mouthfeel refers to the weight of the coffee feels in the mouth. It’s that tangible feel from the combination of sediments, fats and oils perched in the brew. In general terms, it is sometimes expressed as the coffee being heavy, buttery, syrupy, watery, etc.

  8. And of course, what is coffee without a flavor? This is probably the most important part of the whole coffee-tasting experience. A coffee’s flavor varies depending on the coffee beans’ organic structure, nutrients from the fruit, caramelized sugar from roasting, roast levels, etc. You will be surprised how wide the flavors of coffee can range – from fruits, flowers, spices, chocolate, to berries, and so on.

  10. Once you’re done with your cup, you may notice that the coffee leaves a lingering taste on the tongue. This is what we called the finish, or the aftertaste. The heavier the coffee, the stronger the aftertaste is. It can sometimes be described as woody, spicy, smoky, and so on.

    Like any skill, cupping requires practice to master. The more you practice, your palate will be stronger, your coffee expertise will broaden and you will find coffee drinking a much enjoyable experience.

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