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How To Become a Coffee Aficionado

Coffee tastings – known to aficionados as cuppings – might just be the next whimsical hobby. Here’s how to sniff out superior brews:


What is cupping?

The process by which coffee roasters, buyers and baristas gauge the quality of single-origin beans by noting the tastes and aromas of the brewed coffee. But cupping is no longer just for the pros – it has gained popularity among caffeine fiends looking to better their appreciation of the different types of beans.


What is involved?

STEP 1: Smell the dry grounds. Tap the cup to release the fragrance.

STEP 2: Smell the grounds “wet”. Boiling water is added and the grounds are left to steep for about eight minutes until a crust forms on the surface. Use a spoon to break the crust and push it aside to release the aromas.

STEP 3: The fun part – tasting the brewed coffee. Slurp a spoonful loudly and quickly to release a burst of flavour at the back of your throat.


How do I prepare for a tasting?

Make sure you’re not wearing perfume or nursing a cold – these factors may interfere with how you perceive the aromas and flavours of coffee. Also avoid eating food with strong flavours before the class – extreme flavours blunt your palate.


Understanding Coffee Terms:

ACIDITY: The bright, citrusy flavours detected. A good coffee should have fresh citrus notes (think those of lemon, lime or apple).

AFTERTASTE: How long the flavour stays on your palate. Ideally, it should be a pleasant and lingering taste.

AROMA: Is the coffee fruity, flowery, nutty, caramel-like, chocolatey, spicy, et cetera?

BODY: The “mouth feel” of the coffee – how full and rich it feels in your mouth.

FLAVOUR: The sweet, sour, salty and bitter notes you detect in the coffee.


Ready for a great cuppa? Try these finds.


By Tan Min Yan, Her World, April 2015



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