The Technical Side of Coffee Cupping

At every stage of production, coffee is repeatedly tested for quality and taste. This process is referred to as cupping and usually takes place in a room specifically designed to facilitate the process.

To evaluate specialty coffee beans in a consistent manner a process was distilled so that an evaluation is equitable and measurable.

An expert cupper can taste hundreds of samples of coffee a day and still taste the subtle differences between them. Barrie House uses the Brickford method to taste coffee.

Bickford method:

  • The cupper carefully evaluates the green coffee for their overall visual quality.
  • The beans are then roasted in a small laboratory roaster, immediately ground and infused in boiling water, the temperature of which is carefully controlled.
  • The cupper “noses” the brew to experience its aroma, an integral step in the evaluation of the coffee’s quality.
  • After letting the coffee rest for several minutes, the cupper “breaks the crust” by pushing aside the grounds at the top of the cup. Again the coffee is “nosed” before the tasting begins.
  • To taste the coffee, the cupper aspirates (slurps) a spoonful with a quick inhalation.  The objective is to spray the coffee evenly over the cupper’s taste buds, and then weigh it before spitting it out.
  • Samples from a variety of batches and different beans are tasted on a daily basis.
  • Coffees are not only analyzed this way for their inherent characteristics and flaws, but also for the purpose of blending different beans or determining the proper roast.