Key Steps to a Perfect Coffee Tasting Experience


Starbucks Coffee Cupping
Coffee lovers doesn’t just love coffee; but they can also have the passion to know in a ritualized way industry professionals taste, analyze and grade different beans for quality. Do we ever wonder what we are really looking for a cup of coffee, exactly, or what motions we go through to find it? I had a great opportunity to have a coffee tasting this morning at Starbucks Alabang Town Center with the Barista Trainees, Ms. Dea Ona and Mr. Jasper Paule. The 10 minutes encounter was really informative featuring the KENYA Whole Bean Medium Roast Coffee which I really got to share with you! 

Coffee cupping, or coffee tasting is the observation of the tastes and aromas of brewed coffee. It is a professional practice but can be done informally by anyone as well. People in the trade will have you believe that coffee cupping is a science, an exact art requiring a lot of expertise. It is a fact to some extent, but it should not put off the enthusiast from enjoying it too. There are no right or wrong opinions in this practice. In your palette, you may even pick up hints of taste that the most season cupper would not, as each person can find unique experiences in the cup.

Miss Dea and Mr. Jasper discussed with me about the different varieties and subtle nuances in which coffee tasting is a lot like wine tasting. Some of the attributes and terminology can seem unfamiliar at first, but it’s an experience worth savoring for tasters of all levels. Your tasting skills can also be enhanced with a little guidance, some context around flavor characteristics, and regular practice.
  4 Enemies of Coffee:

  • Moisture
  • Heat
  • Air
  • Light

4 Steps of Coffee Tasting:

  • Smell
  • Slurp
  • Locate
  • Describe

I did some research on this based on the what they have shared with me. So basically, these are the steps in coffee tasting:

Smelling the dry grounds is the first step, and participants often gently shake the samples to release their aromas. Once everyone has experienced the cups dry, the leader(s) will add hot water to them, beginning the brew. When saturated, the grounds form a crust at the top of the cup, which can contribute a distinct smell of its own; during the steep time, participants sniff this crust and take note of any changes that may have occurred once the coffee has come in contact with water. After four minutes, participants will “break” the crust by drawing the back of a spoon through the grounds; this releases another burst of aroma, which can be more prominent or pronounced than what they got by just sniffing that top crust.


After the samples are “broken,” each cup is skimmed clean of grounds to allow for tasting (nobody wants to find coffee specks in their teeth three hours later, know what I’m saying?). From this point, cuppers taste the coffees by slurping them from deep-bowled spoons, being sure to aspirate and spray the coffee all over their mouths, as we have taste buds all over the place in there. Many professionals will spit the liquid out after tasting it, but swallowing is okay too, just be careful not to over-caffeinate. Flavor notes are kept throughout, and shared at the end.

1. Before you ever take a sip, breathe in the coffee’s aroma. Start by smelling the fresh grounds, and then compare that fragrance to the bouquet of the brew. Beyond the unmistakable smell of coffee, you’ll probably notice other recognizable scents – wood, berries, earth, spices. Keep an open mind about what these smells evoke for you.
2. Now take a long, slow taste. Let the coffee envelop your entire tongue and all its taste buds. Slurp freely. Don’t worry about the sound; that means you’re doing it right. Try tasting several different coffees in the same session, making sure to prepare each sample the same way. The more you taste, the more sophisticated your palate will become.
3. Understand the Landscape Although every coffee has its own unique flavors and qualities, there are a few fundamental concepts and known regional profiles it’s helpful to be familiar with when starting out. The common traits compose a good framework to keep in mind while tasting.

Basic Coffee Characteristics:

The tastes and aromas of coffee are as varied as those of wine. These subtleties you pick up in its fragrance and on your tongue — chocolate, fruit, flowers, nuts, soil, spice — are the heart and soul of the experience.

A coffee’s body is the way it feels in your mouth. The best way to evaluate body is to take a small sip and let it rest on your tongue to get an impression of its weight and texture.


It sounds unappealing, but acidity is actually a desirable quality in coffee. Unrelated to pH levels, palate acidity indicates the liveliness or brightness of flavor. Without it, coffee tastes flat and dull.

In a casual cupping (like the open-to-the-public ones that I had today, or others available to coffee lovers everywhere), there are no wrong answers when describing what we experienced, which of course leads to some funny contributions, but in a professional cupping each sample is graded on a scale of 1 to 100, with flowery descriptors tossed mostly by the wayside.  

About the product 

Kenya – Medium Roast

Kenya’s high altitudes, ideal climate and strong traditions have helped put premium Kenyan coffees like this one among the world’s most treasured. And as it did when we introduced it in 1971, Kenya continues to astound our expert tasters and customers alike with flavors not commonly ascribed to coffee. Bright with a juicy acidity, low wine notes and fruity flavors – ranging from black currant and blackberry to tart grapefruit – that become more pronounced as the coffee cools, Kenya is delicious served over ice and an important ingredient in our iced-coffee blends

Check it out here!

Lastly, I wanna share with you this STARBUCKS COFFEE TASTING GUIDE. It will lead you to a evaluate perfectly a coffee cupping practice!

Have you ever attended a coffee cupping? If so, what was the most challenging or enlightening thing about it? You can share it with me, too!

Sincerely yours,



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