Roasting 101s: Cupping while standing on one leg - Page 3

Discuss roast levels and profiles for espresso, equipment for roasting coffee.

#21: Post by DavidMLewis »

I have a question for Jim about spitting (Jason, if you're reading you can chime in too). When I was learning to taste wine, probably from Jason, I was taught to breathe out while swallowing to get some of the vapors up into my nasal cavity. I never was able to spit and get the same effect. I've had the same trouble when cupping coffee: I can get many more intense smell impressions if I slurp and swallow than I can if I slurp and spit. Obviously a great many people more practiced than I am can do this, and they seem to have a variety of noses, but I haven't figured out how. Can you help me?


User avatar
another_jim (original poster)
Team HB

#22: Post by another_jim (original poster) »

I find a tip I got from Don Schoenholt useful. After you've swallowed or spat, chew and swallow a few times. This forces the aromas from the remaining coffee coating your palate into the retronasal cavity. The resulting taste effect is scored as the coffee's finish.

After taking the Q-course, I can, somewhat ruefully, confirm what every experienced cupper says: first impressions are by far the most accurate. If you aren't certain from the first quick taste, take a long break and get another fast impression. This means not making a too big production out of getting the finish and the retronasal aromas, do it quickly, and take whatever that first impression gives you.
Jim Schulman


#23: Post by wgbennett83 »


I really enjoyed this post and will start cupping every coffee that I get. I have one question for you. When you cup a light roasted coffee and it shows that it does have promise for espresso (or any other brew method for that matter), how do you then decide how dark to roast it? Is there some indication at the light stage of how it will taste when it is roasted darker? Maybe this is just something that experience teaches you, and the best method for being able to estimate how a roast will be darker is to cup a coffee at several degrees of roast.

Will Bennett
Will Bennett

User avatar

#24: Post by Chert »

Jim (or anyone wishing to share expertise),

My question along the lines of this thread is two-fold: How long should one wait to cup for espresso potential or in general and if a coffee does not taste good in the cup on day one or two is there any reason to wait for improvement? I would suspect that a good coffee will be enjoyable in the cup immediately even if there is improvement to follow.


LMWDP #198

User avatar
another_jim (original poster)
Team HB

#25: Post by another_jim (original poster) »

Flint, it's usual to cup between 8 and 24 hours after roasting; waiting almost never improves things. If the coffee is fermented or otherwise funky, it may get better with time, but only if its going from bad to not so bad. There is no point drinking bad coffee, just dump it.

Note:ferment that tastes good right off the bat, for instance, like overripe fruit and alcohol, is OK by me; but may not be for you. On the other hand, ferment that "improves" is almost never worth the trouble.

Will, I'm sorry, somehow your post slipped between the cracks:

When you have a bean you intend only for espresso, do your cupping roast a few degrees darker than a classic cupping roast, so you can taste some roast flavors. How dark you'll go for the espresso will depend on how good they are.

But even with this, the roast depth of your first espresso roast will be more an educated guess. The kind of bean, especially if you've had it before, is usually a big factor. The cupping result will tell you if this coffee is typical of the ones you had before, or whether there's something that needs special handling. Experience and the cupping outcome together will make for a pretty good first guess.
Jim Schulman